Taking Control From Anxiety
*Photo c/o createHerstock
Anxiety is real. According the National Institute of Health, anxiety impacts approximately 18.1% of the US population. I asked one of my good friends, Kamaria Robinson, if she would write a guest post. When thinking of a good passion post, she decided to discuss anxiety.
Kamaria is a phenomenal writer who enjoys spending time with family, reading, relaxing and she is always up for a good time. She is a wife, mother, sister and an amazing best friend that I have known more than half of my life. Kamaria is a graduate of Tennessee State university where she received her undergraduate in Communication and Lipscomb University where she received a masters in counseling. I hope that this post educates, empowers and inspires you to take control away from anxiety that you may have.
Taking Control From Anxiety
Anxiety can be debilitating, scary and draining. But, I learned that anxiety does not have to control you.
The first, of many, anxiety attacks that I remember having was in graduate school. The most prominent memory of experiencing an anxiety attack was one that woke me from my sleep due to my racing heart and inability to breathe. In that moment, I was not sure what was happening. I grabbed my phone, ran downstairs, called my cousin in Los Angeles, and talked with her which calmed me down – then I slept upright on the couch for the remainder of the night. The fear controlled me and it was scary.
I must admit that the first time in my life, when I experienced the first anxiety attack, was the busiest and most stressful time in my life. I was stretched THIN. I worked as a recruiter in higher education which required a lot of regular travel. I taught a course at the University as adjunct instructor which required not only lecturing, but also grading assignments and meeting with students. I attended evening graduate courses which involved a large number of writing assignments and projects. AND, I was planning my wedding for destination 200 miles away. One might say that I had a full plate!
During the time, I was obviously delusional because I saw myself as fully capable of managing the load due through strategic planning that I did which outlined nearly every day for a year. I believed that I could conquer it all and had every intention to give 100% to every aspect. But, boy was I wrong!
My mind and body reacted in a much different way than I expected. The attacks occurred as literal unexpected attacks. I’d be going through my daily routine and randomly become short of breath and have an increased heart rate and feelings of fear. The confusing part for me was that I didn’t feel stressed to the max. I still felt that I could handle the load, but the attacks were my body’s way of slowing me down and forcing introspection.
So, I was forced to listen. In short, I lightened my load of responsibility. But, I don’t think I had learned my lesson yet, because I had a second phase of anxiety attacks during my child’s first year and a half of life.
Again, I saw myself as super woman and did everything but rest, including breastfeed, start a new job, start a business and be a support to my husband who was a grinding, unemployed graduate student. It got so bad that I had anxiety attacks on a daily basis. It wasn’t until this period that I really realized that was going on. I saw a two therapist that I trusted and two psychiatrists. I learned more about the damage that I was doing to my mind and body. I learned more about the value of protecting my mental health. I learned how the lack of physical rest could impact my life in ways that I never knew. I learned that stress must be managed. I learned that no one could save me, but me, because every action I take has a positive or negative impact on my life and the life of my loved ones.
The post-partum experience taught me so much about myself, and forced me to develop stress-management strategies that I will practice for the rest of my life. Many of the life changes are small, but impactful. My favorite new strategy is engaging in daily meditation.
Thankfully, during this time, I was employed in environment that teaches stress management to doctoral students and I was fortunate enough to learn about the scientifically proven positive impacts of meditation.
Next Steps: How to Take Control
Meditation changed my life. As a result, I have become a person who meditations daily, with no exception. I have been able to see a very close link to meditation and intentional quite, mind-clearing time and a relaxation of my nervous system, as well as the minimization of my anxiety. I started ten months ago and I have not had one anxiety attack since starting. I’ve also noticed other health benefits that I know are a result of meditation. There are so many scientifically proven benefits, and I’m a believer!
Throughout of all my life experiences, I’ve known God’s hand to be on my life. I will always attribute the delivery from not successfully managing stress and anxiety to God because I was allowed to have these life experiences to learn from. When I have been at worst, I was closely connected to effective and free mental health resources, as well as my family who I’ve lived 200 miles apart from an 11-year period. And, that for sure is a “God-thing,” as my mother says.
I now have a heightened awareness of myself and am very intentional about managing stress levels. I’ll always rely on my faith because even though anxiety can feel hopeless, I’ve learned that there is always an end in sight and that God will not forsake, even though he is allowing me to learn a lesson. My prayer and Bible meditation has grown through this period, and I will continue to use it a reminder of God’s presence and power.
To anxiety, I thank you for putting me in a position learn to be a better me. I’m a better Christian, wife, mother, child, sibling, friend and professional because I lived these experiences.
Below are further resources that discuss tips and strategies for managing stress.