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It’s been a while since this Charlotte, NC wedding photographer last blogged about anything, but, it’s true: I’m baaaaaaaack!
Instead of blogging a lifestyle session or beautiful wedding, I wanted to take a moment to talk about something that is personal and also important for me to talk about. It’s May, which means it’s National Mental Health Month.
And there’s this one thing about me you may not know is a part of my daily life:
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (as well as social anxiety).
So, how can you kick anxiety in the ass?
Read on for four tips!
1. Tell yourself, “Anxiety is a liar.”
Anxiety has a really bad habit of making you doubt yourself. All of a sudden, you can go from being the most calm and self-assured individual to feeling like everything that could go wrong that you predicted will actually happen. Kicking anxiety in the ass actually begins when you realize that, as one of my favorite coffee mugs states, anxiety is a liar. (It really is!)
Think about it. Anxiety loves to make you think of all these scenarios in your head that you are so convinced will happen at some point in time. You think about the scenarios over and over again, allowing your anxiety to grow and grow and grow until those thoughts seem like they’re actually real. And then what happens? You turn into a ball of anxiety and lose most of your sense of well being and mental clarity.
- One thing I like do every week is check in with the anxious thoughts I’ve been having by using an app called Worry Watch. This nifty app allows you to take inventory of all your anxious thoughts and helps you come to terms with the thoughts. For example, you contextualize the kinds of anxious thoughts you’re having, note the thoughts’ intensity, and decide whether or not the actual outcome was as bad as you expected. Worry Watch has been really helpful for me because I’ve realized how ridiculous and untrue almost all of my anxious thoughts really are!
Take it from one of my favorite mugs by Mental Health Mugs: Anxiety is a LIAR!
2. Wake up earlier, and meditate.
Why wake up earlier? Because, if you wake up too late when starting your day, you’ll be rushing to get ready. All that will do is feed your anxiety, making it worse. What I personally do is wake up at least three hours before I start working. That’s more than ample time to wake up, shower, get dressed, eat, and just chill. My days end up a lot more relaxed, and the workday is a lot more productive and sane. If you can’t do three hours early, then try 15 minutes. Even waking up 15 minutes earlier can help you feel less anxious!
In order to kick anxiety in the ass, I suggest taking up meditation. If you don’t meditate on a regular basis, you can get started by meditating a few times a week. Kicking anxiety in the ass via mediation is a surefire way to calm your mind and body before you start getting ready for the day.
- My favorite app for meditating is Stop, Breathe & Think, and it’s available for both iOS and Android. It has many free and awesome meditations, and you can unlock many more by paying for a subscription. (I’ve found Stop, Breathe & Think to be reasonably priced compared to similar meditation apps.) Other popular apps include Headspace and Calm.
How long do you need to meditate? Honestly, it’s different for everyone, but even five minutes of meditation will make a huge difference. Meditation has been proven to help reduce anxiety, so having it as part of day-to-day routine is crucial to kicking anxiety in the ass.
Ideally, you should meditate upon waking up. However, if that isn’t your cup of tea, then you can always meditate before you go to bed. Either way, once you’re meditating on a regular basis, you’ll enjoy a calmer mind and even a more positive mindset.
3. Get active.
Having a routine in place every day will do wonders for kicking anxiety in the ass. Here’s a suggested morning (or evening, if you’re more inclined to the evening hours) routine based on my own personal routine:
Meditate. As you read above, I use Stop, Breathe & Think to meditate, but I also recommend Calm and Headspace.
Stretch or, better yet, practice some yoga. Often, tense muscles are a sign of anxiety. Another tool you can add to your pre-departure routine is stretching or yoga. Stretching immediately releases tense muscles, thus lowering your anxiety. Try stretching your arms, legs, neck, and hips to release tension all over. Don’t be afraid if you’re not the most flexible person ever. Even a little bit of stretching makes a huge difference!
- Don’t be afraid to give yoga a try. If you have experience with or are open minded about trying it, practice some yoga. A short (at least 10-minute) routine always does the trick for me. YouTube is a great place to start. Look for yoga routines that promote relaxation (but make sure it’s not a bedtime routine, or you’ll end up ready for bed, unless that’s what you want). You can also use apps for getting in some yoga. My favorite is the Yoga Studio app, but there are plenty of apps you can try (and purchase if you’d like) that offer up great yoga routines.
Exercise. Exercise. Exercise! Exercise is one of the best, if not the best, way to kick anxiety in the ass! Why is that? Well, every time you exercise, you lower your anxiety levels and also get to experience the feel-good chemicals called endorphins, which make people happy! Now, who wouldn’t want to start their day happy and free from anxiety?
- How much exercise? Again, that’s totally up to you, but I recommend at least 15 minutes of exercise. It can be whatever you want: walking, running, lifting weights, etc. I know when I exercise before photographing a wedding, my body is able to easily handle all the walking, running, squatting, reaching, and crouching I do to get those amazing wedding-day shots!
- What workouts? My favorite workouts include those by Leslie Sansone. It’s basically walking in place while doing moves that work every muscle in your body. Some of the workouts are pretty casual, while others will definitely help you work up a good sweat! You can also head to YouTube and search for 15-minute workouts or HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts. Fitness Blender has an awesome variety of free workouts, including HIIT workouts! Don’t forget to do some strength training as well! A combination of both cardio and strength works wonders! Whatever your preference, I promise you any exercise you do will be beneficial in kicking anxiety in the ass!
4. Leave at least 15 minutes early for every important trip.
One major source of anxiety is not leaving enough time to travel to work, appointments, and, in my case, weddings. I recommend adding, at the very least, 15 minutes to your trip to account for any possible traffic jams, inclement weather, car problems, etc. (The last thing I want to do is notify my couples that I’m going to be late arriving at their venue!) This will also ensure you have extra time to secure parking. Ensuring you have the proper amount of time to get to your destination will help calm you as you drive and/or as you encounter any problems along the way.
I cannot stress this enough. If you take medication for anxiety, please make sure you take it! If you take your medication later in the day or multiple times a day, try to make sure you have your medication with you. Another tip (and I do this) is to set a reminder on your phone to take your medication if you tend to be forgetful (like me, LOL).
Personally, I take Lorazepam as needed, and in the evening I supplement with magnesium and melatonin (both have done absolute wonders for my sleep and anxiety). Remember, talk to your doctor before taking any supplements along with prescription medication.
If you follow all these steps (or close to it), you’ll succeed in kicking your anxiety in the ass and see your mental and physical performance improve!
Leave me a comment below, and let me know how you kick anxiety in the ass! I always love hearing how other people with anxiety deal with it. 🙂
Here’s to kicking anxiety in the ass!