Anxiety disorders are more common that you think. If you suffer with it, you may feel alone and isolated but nothing could be further than the truth. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
While you may think that anxiety starts when we become adults and the stresses of life take over, the seeds of anxiety are sometimes planted a long time before that. It actually starts in the womb sometimes and takes root the moment you are conceived.
Many studies have confirmed this theory. I recently stumbled upon a great researcher who cemented my belief in this theory. Dr. Gabor Mate research has shown that children born to mothers who had emotional trauma and stress while pregnant had a very high chance of having ADHD, chronic anxiety, depression or other mental illnesses.
I remember my first time having a social anxiety attack. I was about 7-8 years old and my neighbor was having a big birthday party for his daughter. My mother got me all dressed up and I was in the gallery watching out as I waited on my brother. I saw children arriving and they were all dressed in jeans, t-shirts and sneakers. I however was dressed in a frilly church dress, hair curled up and looking my Sunday best.
I began to panic and cry. I begged my mother to change my clothes. My grandfather who was alive at time reassured me ‘you looking very pretty, why you studying other children’. His words did not help, I continued to panic thinking that as soon as I arrive at the party all eyes will be on me and they will think I wanted all the spotlight and attention. They will think I was full of myself and I wanted to steal the show away from the birthday girl. Needless to say my mother and grandfather did not give in to my tears. They sent me to the party with all my frills and bows.
And there started my anxiety about standing out and being noticed. Since then I have been shrinking myself, “dumbing down” and being a plain Jane, trying to not stand out too much to offend anyone.
No one at the party showed me any kind of negative response but somehow my mind conjured up this story and belief and it dictated my life for a long while until I became aware.
Once I became aware I started to realize that my anxiety started long before the party. It started in the womb. I know my mother had a rough emotional time when she was pregnant with me. No doubt she was anxious and probably depressed. I don’t blame her that’s just how life is. Things happen and we have to deal with it the best way we know how. However, parents need to be mindful that your emotional state affects your children even before they are conceived, as stress hormones can be stored in your seed or eggs.
I saw how this struggle with anxiety affected my ability to achieve my goals and dreams as I became an adult. I would:
– be fearful of people’s opinions of me.
– quit when things got to tough
– doubt my own abilities and talents
– dumb down and hide to fit in
– think of people being superior to me
– believe I was never good enough
Since then I have found ways to manage my anxiety after much research and testing.
Here are a few of them:
1. Affirm myself every day. I actually recorded some affirmations that I use daily and I also use them with my clients who have found amazing results with them. Change the way you talk to yourself and how you feel about yourself will change.
2. I stick to my morning routine as it helps me stay anchored and not easily swayed by my emotions. My morning routine comprises of, a gratitude prayer, simple exercises and stretches, affirmations and daily review and simple plan.
3. I try to eat healthier and take vitamins supplements. Still a work in progress here but progress nonetheless.
4. I stay far away from negative people and situations. Negative vibrations are one sure way to trigger anxiety. I also started surrounding myself with things that I love, like flowers and scented oils that raise my vibrational energy.
5. I spend less time on my phone and social media and do more things that I love like writing. Each time your phone sends out a notification, it prompts you to respond. That’s not a great way to live if you have anxiety. Try taking of your phone if you’re not expecting any urgent calls and respond to messages etc. when you feel like doing it not when you’re being prompted. This gives you better control over yourself and your emotional state.
6. I’m constantly aware of my triggers and write them down to track any patterns I see occurring.
7. I design my life to have the least amount of stress as possible and take time to myself when I need it.
I hope this helps someone. Comment below if you can relate.