I still wonder if everyone feels anxiety, but only some of us suffer from it. Do people not even realize or are aware of what anxiety is or does it sadly only effect people like myself.  My first awareness of anxiety happened when I was in college. One evening I felt suddenly weak, dizzy and trembling with the unbearable certainty that I was dying. I had my roommate take me to the hospital, after 2 hours of waiting, test results showed nothing. I was sent home with 10 pills of Xanax, took one and slept the rest of the night through. I awoke feeling mostly back to normal, only with a new awareness of something and somewhere my mind had gone that had shaken me to the core and left a pathway to a very dark place.

I was suddenly aware of myself and my thoughts. I felt unsure, insecure, and second guessed everything I did, thought and said. I was embarrassed and ashamed of the negative and out right vindictive thoughts that I could not control. I constantly worried about what other people thought of me, mostly because of how poorly I thought about myself. I have always been a soft spoken person who avoided conversations and looking people in the eye, but now I wonder if I have always lived in that deep dark place in my mind and I am just now aware of it.

Anxiety comes in many forms, has many different highs and lows and lasts as long as you let it. Living with anxiety is not easy, most of the time depression creeps in. As if worry and analyzing myself and others every move isn’t enough, throw in crying spurts and an isolation so deep that only alcohol and drugs can pull you out of. Alcohol became the norm for me and my college friends. Blacking out was the goal and any way to get there was acceptable.  For me, alcohol completely masked and downplayed my anxiety and depression, pushing any issue and responsibility of myself aside. Creating an ole too familiar habit of regret, recover and repeat.

From my experience anxiety seems to live in the head, gains momentum and multiplies. Pills, alcohol, drugs, kids, and work can all numb or distract you from dealing with the awful beast living inside your head, but there are ways to managing anxiety without drugs or external influences.

4 Easy Steps to Naturally Manage your Anxiety

  1. Awareness.  Being aware of your thought patterns and how you feel is the only way to realize if you are not happy or unsatisfied.  Take time to really evaluate your own happiness, what you like and dislike about yourself, noticing the frequency of anxious thoughts or depressive moods.  Being aware cultivates the will to change.
  2. Will to Change.  The only way to stop a behavior is to have the will to change it.  If you are sick and tired of being sick and tired, you will become desperate for change.  You will want to put in the work required and start looking for help in others, online, therapy, writing or any healthy way to help yourself feel more satisfied and happy.
  3. Putting in the work.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, but the work required to dig deep and resolve issues with yourself takes tremendous emotional work and time.  Everyone’s  path is different and only you can determine what your needs are.  Once you are on the path to recovery, it will feel refreshing, liberating, exhausting and frustrating all at the same time.  It is important to search for tools that work for you such as yoga, mediation, karate, writing or any type of healthy outlet to help clear the clutter and find clarity in your self.  Some things may work for a short period of time, others won’t, keep trying and searching for what works for you.
  4. Don’t give up.  Just like an addict, managing your anxiety and thought patterns takes constant awareness and attention.  I can promise it gets easier.  Finding yourself, passions, support and removing outside influences is the recipe to cultivate the confidence, assurance and happiness required to overcome anxiety and maintain a happy life.