Wellness. It is a term that can be interpreted in many ways. It stems from many things in our body, mind, soul, and environment. Growing up, physical wellness was something that cam e pretty easily to me. I always had a balanced diet, exercised, and got enough sleep. However, as I came into my teenage years, I began to develop horrible anxiety. I was eventually diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when I was a senior in high school. At this point, anxiety dominated my life and everything I did. I have learned that while physical wellness is extremely important, mental wellness is just as important.
For a long time, mental health did not get as much attention as physical health in our culture and many people doubted its importance. I am beyond grateful that our culture has started to embrace the importance of mental health to overall wellness. Anxiety is much more common than many of us realize in our fast-paced culture. While not everyone has a diagnosed disorder, many people still experience different forms of anxiety. And I am here to share with you all some of the techniques that have helped me most in conquering my anxiety!
I have realized that moving my body impacts my mental health. The two are intertwined. For a long time, I held the false belief that exercise had to be intense. Having this mindset caused me to put a lot of pressure on myself and feel like if I wasn’t doing an intense workout every time I exercised, it wasn’t exercise. As a working adult now, I oftentimes don’t have time to go to the gym during the week. But, I have learned over the years that exercise takes many different forms, some which are easy to incorporate into your everyday lifestyle.
I personally love taking walks - they are a great way to get your body moving, enjoy being outside, and pray. It’s a bonus if you live near a body of water that has walking trails near it! I also love to hike. This is much harder to find here in Dallas, but I take advantage of hiking opportunities whenever I can when I am near the mountains. Overall, taking a new approach to exercise and realizing there are many different ways to incorporate it into my daily life has decreased my anxiety level and helped me feel better physically as well.
I love to write. And I think writing out what you are going through is one of the best ways to vent. The best part is, journaling doesn’t even have to make sense! Sometimes, I just blurt my feelings out on paper and leave them there. If someone else read my journal entries, oftentimes they would have no idea what I was talking about. And that’s ok! Journaling doesn’t have to be perfect. It is a private place for you to work through whatever you’re going through. Bonus: I love to do my daily journaling with some candles or the fire lit and a cup of warm tea or coffee.
I love getting lost in a book. And over the years, I have found that this form of entertainment is much better for my brain and mental health than binging Netflix or movies. Now, I don’t think there is anything wrong with screen time in moderation. But I have noticed that the more screen time I have, the more anxious I become. Maybe some of you can relate. To combat this, I have started setting time aside for myself to read before bed every weeknight. I put my phone on the other side of my room and get lost in a book - it’s wonderful! If I have had a tough day, it almost always puts my brain at ease and calms me down. I end up going to sleep feeling much better than I would have if I had been scrolling on Instagram or watching YouTube videos for the previous hour. The best part about reading is that there is something for everyone. I personally like to switch it up between actual stories and lifestyle/faith books. That way I am able to learn a little and entertain myself a little, all while helping curb my anxiety in a healthy way.
One of my favorite parts of my day is making dinner. I love making dinners that have lots of steps - cooking is very therapeutic for me. I have come up with so many meals I love, and making them in the evening always puts my mind at ease. I used to think cooking complex meals took way too much effort and I stuck with frozen food from Trader Joe’s (which is also delicious). This year, I decided to nip the laziness in the bud and have learned I love to cook more than I thought possible. There is always something special about trying new hobbies. Something you may think would take too much effort could end up being one of your favorite things. And I have found that activities in which I can be creative, such as cooking, always calm me on days I am struggling with feeling anxious.
I saved this one for last because it has been one of the most important things for me to get on top of my anxiety disorder. If there is something that is overwhelming me, I oftentimes feel tempted to sit and wallow in it. There have been days where I have done this and it has ended up taking away my entire day. Over the years, I have learned that I need to face what is making me anxious head-on and combat it. Because oftentimes, we focus way too much on things that are out of our control, and also falsely believe that things we CAN control are uncontrollable.
Finances is a perfect example for me. This is something that stresses me out quite often. But I have realized that budgeting is something I can to do combat it. When I take a step back and self-reflect when I am feeling anxious about finances, I am able to see what is in my control and what is out of my control. From there, I can make decisions to budget and then set it aside in my mind. Deal with something, and then stop dwelling on it. It is quite easy to obsess over and dwell on things that give us anxiety, but learning to reflect on these things and take ownership of them has moved mountains for me.
There are so many other ways to combat anxiety. I am a huge advocate for therapy, and it has helped me immensely. Every single thing I have shared has been a result of learning more about anxiety from my therapists and others who care about my wellbeing. Although I have discovered what works for me, the overall takeaway I have had with my anxiety journey is that you need to make time for healthy habits that you enjoy. For me, exercise, journaling, reading, cooking, and self-reflection are just a few of these habits. For you, it may look a little different. I want to challenge you to sit back and think about things that bring you joy that you can fit into your daily life. You can even ask friends and family when they have noticed you being the most joyful - there may be small things you love doing that you don’t realize could be really helpful to incorporate into your daily life. While there are so many things that have helped my anxiety, including medicine and therapy, taking ownership of my own personal habits and lifestyle has been a game changer. We can and will conquer anxiety!
Assistant Creative Director and Copywriter, Purveyors of Fragrance