Many people look forward to the holidays and celebrating festivities with family and friends ... but not everyone. For some, it is a time of year where the pressures of forced social interaction can seem too overwhelming to manage. Often times people who suffer with social anxiety deeply want to connect with others, but struggle in reality to do so. Here are a few practices that can be added to your daily routine to help with managing and diffusing anxiety.
For over ten years of my childhood and young adult life, I denied having anxiety at all and as a result, continued to suppress all of the negative thoughts and emotions that were eating away at me. I was so afraid of being thought of as mentally insane, weird and unacceptable by my peers that I could not bring myself to think or say aloud that I had an anxiety disorder. However, the reality was that I did, and it literally hijacked my life, consuming every moment of every day. During my sophomore year of college, I finally hit a wall and knew that I could no longer live with this intense suffering and pain. Therefore, I mustered every ounce of courage within me to finally admit to my loved ones and myself that I had anxiety. Admission is what I consider to be the first and most important step to healing anxiety or any other mental health disorder. Until you come clean and allow all of those negative thoughts and feelings to bubble up and release, nothing else you do will relieve your anxiety. You simply cannot put a stop to your disorder without detoxifying first. All of that negative baggage you have been carrying around needs to be unloaded so that you can go forth with a free mind that is ready to absorb all of the love, positivity and healing energy you can give it. There is no doubt that this mental-cleansing step is by far the hardest, but once you cross that proverbial threshold and speak your truth, you can then move forward with the following 3 techniques to transform your mental health.
The biggest problem that fed my anxiety was the series of negative thought patterns that constantly occupied my mind. During the time I suffered from my disorder, I had no idea how powerful my thoughts were. Somewhere along my road to recovery, though, I realized that the basis for my anxiety was in telling myself repeatedly that I was unworthy, not good enough, one step away from failure, etc... In thinking these thoughts, I was sabotaging my mental and physical health as well as my happiness. Once I understood this, I started doing positive affirmations every day in order to change my thought patterns from negative to positive. Affirmations are extremely easy to do. Simply find a word or phrase that resonates with you and repeat it to yourself throughout the day. I turned to the mother of spirituality and metaphysics herself, Louise Hay, for my go-to affirmations, and in order to remind myself to keep saying them, I posted these written phrases in all the places I would regularly look: my computer screen, my mirror, my bedside, on my bulletin board, right next to my sink, etc... These little notes not only served as good reminders, but they also held me accountable for practicing my affirmations. In doing this work, I set myself up for further success and began to see drastic changes in my inner dialogue.
I was first introduced to meditation in my high school health class. The idea of sitting still and calming my mind was so terrifying to me at the time because I knew my anxious symptoms would right away get the best of me. Sure enough, when I went to meditate, that is exactly what happened. I was tense everywhere; my neck kept shaking from side to side, and the whole time, I felt as though I could not breathe. It was a nightmare to say the least, and I vowed that I would never meditate again. However, once I started investing in this concept of holistic healing for my anxiety, I became intrigued by meditation for the first time in my life and knew that I had to give it another shot. Thankfully, I did because the practice of mediation completely shifted my energy and released many of the blockages in my body that kept me feeling anxious. Slowly but surely, I began to meditate every day and developed a 10-minute, morning routine that worked well for me. While initially I assumed that meditation was all about clearing your mind entirely of thoughts and sitting in an upright position with your hands resting on the knees, I later found that the number of different ways to meditate was infinite. This is a practice that you can do anytime, anywhere. If you want to stand up, sit down, close your eyes, play background music or do anything else, rest assured that you can. The purpose of meditation is to release any and all thoughts as they cross your mind and become conscious of your breath. As long as you practice these 2 principles, you are meditating. How cool!
Anytime people hear the word prayer, they automatically think of religion. The kind of prayer I am talking about here, though, is not so much religious as it is spiritual and can be referred to as affirmative prayer. Once you start to do it, you will surely notice how empowering it feels to pray in the affirmative and how nicely this style compliments the religious prayers you recite. Here is how it works: Rather than asking a higher power for something you currently do not have in your life, graciously thank God or whoever it is that you pray to for allowing that desire of yours to have already manifested. An example of this would be saying thank you for now feeling calm, relaxed and focused despite the fact that you still feel anxious. When we speak in the affirmative instead of phrasing our prayers as questions or desperate pleas, we attract what it is we want into our lives. Continuing to beg and plead keeps our desires just out of reach because we are coming from a place of lack. On the other hand, when we shift our perception and change our language a bit to reflect abundance, feelings of confidence, power and clarity surface, allowing our anxiety to dissipate and true healing to occur. If you are suffering from anxiety or another mental health disorder, there is no reason to feel ashamed or alone in your suffering. On the contrary, it is relatively normal in today's world to struggle with anxiety, depression and anything else under the mental-health-disorder umbrella. However, the longer you wait to address your anxiety issues, the worse they will get, so do yourself a favor by taking action now. You have everything you need to heal your mind and achieve positivity, calm and happiness. All you have to do is use the tools above along with any other holistic healing techniques you enjoy to tap into your inner guru and take back your mind!
Recommended Mental Healing Experts:
-Dr. Roger Callahan
Article by Hadley Gustin. Hadley Gustin is a holistic anxiety coach, motivational speaker and self-help writer for young women struggling with anxiety. After suffering from severe and chronic anxiety for over a decade, she healed her disorder using holistic methods. Today, Hadley dedicates her personal and professional life to the principles of holistic living and empowering other anxious young women like herself to live healthy, happy and free.