I have anxiety. This is something I didn't fully understand until I was in college. But when I think back to various moments in my life, I realize a lot of my actions and thoughts were purely because I was anxious, although I didn't even know it yet. Anxiety is real. And it is exhausting. Although there are various levels of anxiety, I wanted to share some of the things I discovered as my triggers, which cause me to feel it the most.
1. BEING OVERWHELMED
The feeling of being overwhelmed can stem from a variety of things. I get overwhelmed when I have a lot going on, when I have that extra long to-do list, when I feel like there isn't enough time in the day, and when life seems to give me more than I feel like I can handle.
Every one of us feels anxiety at certain points in our lives. But for those of us who constantly have it, it can make such a simple thing turn into something much bigger. I get overwhelmed when I have a day off from work! This is because I know that in that one day I'll try to get a million things done, and it causes me so much anxiety.
This is where prioritizing comes in, and it's why a lot of people with anxiety have excellent time management skills. On days where I have a lot to do in a short amount of time, I make a to-do list and check off each item as it's completed. This way, my brain can be organized and I won't become overwhelmed if I take each task a step at a time.
2. BEING UNORGANIZED
Cleanliness plays a HUGE role in anxiety, believe it or not. When we are in a room filled with clutter, our minds become cluttered. A messy and unclean apartment or house provides no structure for us, and it causes anxiety when we end up coming home to a big mess rather than a cleaned, organized space. Organization is huge. It makes things easily accessible, and makes the space we live in more enjoyable overall.
If you feel like being more organized could ease your anxiety, try looking at Homegoods stores or Marshalls. They have some nice, affordable organizers for anything from makeup and jewelry, to closet spaces and junk drawers. Even if you hate cleaning, I guarantee you'll notice such a difference in your anxiety level when you come home to a clean, organized space.
3. NOT GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP
On days where I get less than six hours of sleep, I'm basically miserable, irritable, and more depressed than usual. No sleep = severe anxiety for the next day, even if it takes a few hours for me to realize that. Whenever I'm extremely tired I feel like my anxiety stirs up unnecessary drama, makes me second guess myself, and puts me in this mindset where I feel like I can't make any logical decisions.
I feel like this is because at night, my dreams allow me to work through whatever lingering anxieties I may have going on in my head at a given time. Without those dreams, my brain is just all over the place. I also feel this is because an anxious brain wastes way more energy throughout the day than an average person because we worry about everything. We exhaust ourselves since our minds for the most part, are constantly racing.
4. FEELING INSECURE
Being tired often leads to my insecurities being worse than they usually are. There are days where negative thoughts take over my head. My mind races and I suddenly hate my hair style, my clothes, and the fact that I have anxiety. I question my career choices, and random things I did 5 years ago or wherever my mind feels like taking me that day. I can become harsh on myself and for the most part, I know I'm probably just tired or it's just one of those days.
The worst is when I'm in a crowd of people I don't know. It's a combination of being overwhelmed and my insecurities taking over that cause me severe anxiety. Suddenly me, a pretty extroverted individual, becomes this shy introverted person and I'm afraid to just be myself. It's not until I feel comfortable in a place when I can start to collect myself and stop the insecure feeling. But at the end of the day, regardless of the situation, it's always important to try and take control of your mind, and remind yourself of who you really are, no matter what your anxious thoughts are trying to tell you that day.
5. THE UNKNOWN
Oh, the deep, dark unknown. This can be anything from plans with friends in a new location you've never been to before, to starting a new job, to meeting new people. Although most people are freaked out by the unknown, most anxious people tend to completely despise the unknown because it's something we have no control over and can't play out in our heads.
I'm starting a new job, and everyone keeps asking me why I don't sound super happy about it. The thing is, deep down I am really happy. But the major thing holding me back from being nothing but happy is the unknown. I don't know what my co-workers will be like, how my commute will be each day, what the office environment will be like, or how quickly I'll pick up the work I'll be doing. At my old job, I knew everything. I knew the people, the work, the basic day-to-day. Letting all that go and diving headfirst into the unknown is one of the scariest things, especially for an anxious person who has a million worries and fears.
6. CHANGES, BIG OR SMALL
Tying into the unknown is pure change. Change is scary for most, but for anxious people, it's a whole new level of scary. it's down right terrifying. It can almost inhibit us from doing things we want to do deep down. Starting a new job, being in school and starting a new class schedule, commute changes, moving to a new house or apartment, someone you love passing away, break-ups, having an argument where you and your friend aren't speaking, or just simple lifestyle changes. These are all things that play a huge role in anxiety.
This is for a few reasons. One being simple, it's just different and new, and like I said before, it's the unknown. It's not something we are used to and that scares the hell out of us. We seem to get stuck in a routine, and once that routine is created and we have fully adapted to it, it becomes our comfort zone.
Ah, the good ol' comfort zone. This zone is dangerous. This zone can make us believe we should continue doing something even if it isn't making us happy, simply because it's just easier than creating a huge change in our life. But the thing we often forget as humans, anxious or not, is that change is usually a good thing. Even if we don't see the good right away.
Change means yes, we have to adjust to a new routine, live a different lifestyle, or go down a different path, but usually it's for a really good reason. And unfortunately if it's not, then change will allow you to explore new opportunities, try something totally different, and maybe you'll find something you never would've before had you not made that change.
Life in general will always cause anxieties, but it's important to recognize your own triggers and learn healthy ways to cope with them. Sometimes when we are drowning in our own thoughts, it can be difficult to pull ourselves out, and at times, it can feel impossible. But it is possible. Read a book, go for a run, learn a new hobby, bake some cookies, listen to some music, be in nature, go on an adventure. Just find ways to cope. And most importantly, find ways to stay strong.