Before I end the year with my personal reflections, I thought it might be helpful for my readers to know what I usually do to keep my anxiety at bay

The best thing that anyone can do is make their own type of routine, or what I call, a “toolkit” of habits. This is just a general guideline, and some of my habits might not work for everyone, but it’s better to start somewhere than nowhere at all.

(1) Get a good nights sleep 

Easier said than done, I know – but I invested in blackout curtains, and it has been a complete game-changer to ensure that I get a good quality sleep. Others can invest in earplugs, white noise machines, or ASMR videos. Whatever it is to help you get the best sleep, DO IT. Get into a good routine and stick to it.

(2) Make yourself a morning person

I used to enjoy nights and staying up late, but I noticed that all of the overthinking that I would inevitably do happened around this time. I can’t stop it for the most part, but I saw that going to bed early did make me a better person and more cheerful in the morning. I try to practice some meditation each morning, through the app “Calm” to get my day started

(3) Make sure you get exercise

Not saying to go overboard here, but if you can get at least 3 days of working out into your schedule, you’ll notice that you won’t be that walking zombie. It’s been hard for me to get back into the groove of things since having a baby, and I feel lethargic. I downloaded the app “7M Workout” to help me get back, even this small step is helpful to focus on something other than your anxiety.

(4) Write

You don’t have to be as public as I am with my blog, but if you start journaling, you’ll see that it can help process your thoughts. Even if it’s just a couple of words of how you feel or a sentence of what happened – it’ll help.

(5) Limit Social Media 

A lot of people have FOMO, but I’ve noticed that the more time I spend on social media, the more anxious I am over news and expectations. Since having a kid, it’s been easier to not log on regularly, and I’m so much happier not knowing everything all the time.

This can be hard for some people, but a significant first step for this is to not login several hours before you go to bed. It makes it so much simpler to fall asleep

(6) Watch Horror Movies

This probably sounds weird, but if you allow yourself to release all your anxiety in a safe space, then you’ll find that you can get less anxious throughout the day. My release is horror movies in the comfort of my own home during the daylight because I’m a wuss.

Don’t forget

If you find yourself in a panic attack the best thing you can do is practice grounding and breathing exercises

grounding tech

When it comes to anxiety, I’ve found that the best way to overcome situations is by practicing grounding techniques.

Grounding is being present in your body and connected with the earth, allowing you to feel centered and balanced no matter what’s going on around you. I remember as a child I would practice this without even realizing: I would kick off my socks/shoes and dig my toes into the patch of ground closest to my house. Feeling the dirt beneath my feet always made me feel calm. From time to time I still do this, but when it comes to Canadian Winters, I need to find other techniques

1) Involve your senses: make a cup of your favorite tea, wear your grandmother’s sweater or, use essential oils. Being lost in nostalgia through your senses will calm you down and bring you back to the present

2) Self Soothe: Draw yourself a bubble bath/take a hot shower, light some candles around the place/put on the fireplace channel or, listen to some spa music. Try to set your atmosphere into a calming zone. Don’t worry if this is not your scene if you’d rather calm down by listening to metal, GO FOR IT.

3) Observe: Aside from the anxiety-ridden thoughts that are running through your head, what else is happening around you? Sometimes when I’m driving, I can get a little anxious. When I do, I try to give as much detail towards other objects surrounding me as a distraction: “The car in front of me is a Blue Sedan with the license plate number XXX-XXX its bumper has a slight ding on the right-hand side most likely from exiting a parking garage.” Observing others and objects around you brings you back into the present and is a great trick when you’re on the road

4) Breathing: I cannot stress this exercise enough as most people with anxiety can sometimes forget how to breathe. I posted a great video to follow. However, if you need a quick tip use 4-7-8: Inhale to 4, hold to 7, exhale to 8.

5) Distraction: This tip is excellent not only for oneself but for others who want to help with family/friends when they experience an anxiety attack. This trick is called 5-4-3-2-1, and once you get the ball rolling you’ll notice that by the end you won’t feel as anxious anymore:

List 5 things that you can see
List 4 things that you can touch
List 3 things that you can hear
List 2 things that you can smell
List 1 emotion that you feel

I’m not going to lie; I’ve had a difficult past couple of months. I won’t delve into my issues but recently it started to get better, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Usually, when I have rough months my anxiety kicks into full gear, and it’s still a daily struggle to get out of my element. So when my best friend in Montreal decided to host an event for her book launch, I was determined to show up for support. The only thing is, how was I going to deal with a crowd? If you know me personally, you most likely know that it takes a lot for me to show up at a party where I know no one. I decided I needed to break through my rough patch and support her.

When my husband and I arrived, I immediately walked into the venue and assessed where the exits were. Only one, so I hugged the side of the walls closest to the door. People started to show up in large groups and blocked the only entrance/exit, and my heart started to race. social anxiety
My best friend was rushing around but somehow found the time to come up to mention “why are you all alone?!” and then introduced me to one of her friends. I extended my hand for a greeting, but in all honesty, my heart rate elevated, my mouth suddenly lost all moisture, and I got an overwhelming sensation that I was too awkward because of my trembling hands. My husband noticed and ushered us into the larger part of the venue where vendors were set up, and the air was blasting. Getting the rush of cold air helped me calm down as I started to concentrate on my breathing. Soon enough a close friend of the family (Whom I refer to as my Aunt) stopped by and took my mind off of what was battling in my head. Keeping me engaged in a conversation took my mind off of the crowd becoming larger in our space and grounded me (Thank you!!)

I spent a solid two hours at this event alongside some acquaintances and was extremely proud that I didn’t bolt out immediately. If this happened several years ago, I never would have thought of coming out. One of the things that I learned in therapy was that I need to expose myself to situations that frighten me, that’s the only way that I’ll grow as a person. Overcoming my social anxiety wasn’t an easy task, but with the right CBT therapies, it can get better over time (take baby steps!!)
I’m thankful that I didn’t miss out on my friend’s success and I’m so proud of her accomplishment “Thrive Through Self-Care.”