I feel it’s important to start this post off by saying that I in no way consider myself an expert in mental health or counseling. I do however, choose to use the platform and the voice that I’ve been given to raise awareness and normalize topics that affect not only me, but my loved ones and my peers.
“I’m just stressed out.” I told my mom through my iPhone headphones as I over-exercised and analyzed every minute detail of my life. The “stress” I was experiencing caused a spell of days turned weeks where I was unable to stomach a meal and spent many painfully restless nights wide-eyed, staring at the ceiling. That stress was not normal. It wasn’t “too many assignments on the office desk” stress. Or “late to dinner plans” stress. In fact, what I was experiencing wasn’t stress at all, it was full blown anxiety that I, proud and relentless, refused to accept. That miserable, stressed out time during what was meant to be the most exciting time of my adult life is what led me to, for the very first time, acknowledge anxiety as a real issue that cripples our generation.
Since then I’ve spent my days surrounded by millennials in one of the most expensive and densely populated cities in the US. I felt drawn to write about anxiety knowing that so much of my generation deals with it under their own unique circumstances, whether it is here in NYC or across the country. I sought the advice of my peers over Instagram, feeling that the blog post deserved more than just my own perspective.
The responses you’re about to read prove that there is no sugar-coated, cookie cutter solution for dealing with anxiety. The perfect cure can’t be placed in a bottle or written on a pamphlet, and it is not a one-size fits all. But talking about it is a good first step towards finding a solution that works for you. The advice below is interpreted responses from millennials just like you, who were brave enough to share their experiences with me.
Acknowledge it for what it is
What I find works for me is exercise (cardio), writing, and occasional meditation. It helps me focus on one issue at a time and make plans to overcome it, rather than drown in the stress.
How can you even begin to address anxiety if you refuse to acknowledge it as that. Too often anxiety or mental health issues are self-categorized as flaws or imperfections, when they are so far from it.
Only when feelings are accepted for what they really are, rather than pushed aside allowing them to continually consume your life, will you be able to address solutions that could really help.
Work for Long-Term Solutions, Not Quick Fixes
My anxiety decreased once I stopped drinking and taking Xanax to suppress it. It only fixed for the moment, like a Band-aid. Never really healing the problem. Learning to sit with my anxiety, not mask it is empowering for me.
Alcohol, medications, over-exercising are all unhealthy quick fixes to mask anxiety. The problems here lie when the high of those quick fixes wear off.
I love how this response says “learning to sit with my anxiety”. It doesn’t mean learning to sit at your office desk miserably anxious that you’ve made a mistake. But it more so means learning to sit next to it, through uncomfortable growth and progress periods. It’s not easy working through those long-term solutions but it’s worth it.
Our peers are currently finding long-term solutions in the following:
- getting more sleep
- spending time away from phone and laptop
- journaling or sharing with a trusted person
- eating healthy
- cutting back on caffeine, sugar and alcohol
- exercising, yoga, and meditation
- spending time in nature
Give and Receive Support
“Ahh anxiety. What an evil thing it has been in my life. I constantly think over and over, replay those thoughts and when I’m not worrying, I’m worrying about what I was worrying about. I was worried to the point that I wouldn’t do things in fear something could happen. Meeting my husband got me out of the worrying phase. He showed me how to be care-free.”
What a powerful tool a support system can be. It’s amazing the power that individuals have in our lives and the power they have to impact our emotional well being. Not only does this prove the need to open up and share with our loved ones when we feel anxious or are in need, but it proves the importance of giving support and loving on our friends and family in return.
One response shared how she felt safe and supported when her boyfriend laid his head on her chest letting the weight of his head soothe and calm her. How amazing is it that they have their unique way of supporting each other.
Offer love, kindness, and support when it is needed. The emotions of those who rely on us shouldn’t be something we let go to voice mail.
Be Easy on Yourself
The way I’m learning to deal is by sitting and breathing. Literally taking five minutes to calm down and then write how I’m feeling and read it days later. At the time you feel so panicked, but looking back can help you learn how to get out of those situations next time. Honestly, there is no answer for every type of anxious filled instance because they are all different.
Understand that everyone feels and experiences life differently. Driving 80 miles per hour down an interstate terrifies me. Some people, however, love being in fast moving cars and drive them as a way to relax. You will never win by comparing your own circumstance to other’s, so be easy on yourself knowing that you can and will find a solution in your own unique way.
Most importantly, breath and let go. Take just five minutes to breath and reflect on the situation. Finding time to breath, collect your thoughts, and write them down can be freeing. So much of what we experience is out of our control, acknowledge that and simply ride life’s wave.
If anxiety and emotional well being isn’t a topic being discussed in your social circle or your family group chat, send out this link. Make it your responsibility to help your family, friends, and peers feel safe and protected. The power of our generation is that we are more connected and visible than ever before– use that make our world a better place.
As always, you and me we got this!
Thank you so much to those of you who shared your experiences and advice with me. I would love to hear your experience and tips on dealing with anxiety. Share in the comments below or send me a message.