“What’s the matter?” he asked me as we rode our bikes through the city.
He knew that something was on my mind because whenever I became anxious about something, my entire body seemed to express my anxiety. It’s like the flip of a switch, and suddenly I become withdrawn and quiet.
It was supposed to be a relaxing Sunday afternoon and all I could think about were the bills that needed to be paid and the assignments that I needed to complete for school.
It’s funny the things that cause me extreme anxiety and the things that don’t worry me at all. For example, I’m notorious for losing things. I’ve misplaced credit cards, my license, and house keys. But for some reason those things don’t bother me. I trust that they will show up again—and they always do! However, when it comes to finances, if I feel stressed or unsure whether or not I will be able to pay all of my bills, I head into a tailspin and it’s difficult for me to find my way out. Instead of living one day at a time, trusting that I will be taken care of and that things will work out, I feel like it’s doomsday and have a really difficult time focusing on anything.
Over the past few months, I’ve worked really hard to pinpoint what throws me over the top and to figure out what I can do to prevent anxiety from taking control of me. Here are a few steps that I’m taking to live a more joy-filled life:
1. Find something that is a “de-stressor” and engage in that activity every day. Because I love to run and exercise, if I begin to feel overwhelmed or overburdened, I step away from what is bothering me and go on a run or engage in some other form of physical activity. Even if I only have 20 minutes, exercise leaves me feeling much more balanced and free.
2.Talk through the problem with someone you trust. I am really fortunate to have my boyfriend and older sister to go to for advice or a listening ear. They both know me well, and they’re patient enough to listen to me without trying to solve every problem. Simply knowing that they are there for me has been a huge blessing in my life!
3. Try to put things into perspective and to live one day at a time. Like I said, I’m notorious for acting like financial difficulties mean doomsday. The reality, however, is that they don’t. It’s just life. Sometimes money is really tight, and I may need to make sacrifices in order to pay all of my bills, but that is reality. Because I’ve never had anything handed to me, I’ve learned responsibility and perseverance. Being an adult can be difficult, but with friends and family to support one another, the challenges of life become less burdensome.
Although I recognize that I may always have to deal with extreme anxiety over one thing or another, I won’t allow it to control my life. I desire to see the joys and blessings that have been placed before me. It may be a constant struggle, but I know that it is possible for me to live every day better.
Editor’s Note: If you or a loved one suffers from anxiety, please visit the Anxiety and Depression of America for information and support.