It has been some time ago, but there was a point in my life, where I felt extremely troubled by all the little things. I realised that my brain was overworking, so to speak, and I found myself overthinking every single situation. As a result, I found myself emotionally and mentally drained most of the time. I experienced this sense of anxiety especially when I’m not doing the things I’m passionate about. It was a dark time and period of my life when almost everything I did was what I had to do instead of what I wanted to do. It felt as if I was bound by heavy chains at the bottom of the ocean. Every now and then, feelings of anxiety, restlessness and uneasiness washed over me like crashing waves.
Anxiety Often Causes Insomnia
At the end of the day, my mind was still running millions of kilometres per minute, up to the moment my head hits the pillow. Tossing and turning in bed the whole night as I waited for sleep to come, but it never does. It was nearly impossible to control these anxious thoughts of mine, or even pinpoint the source that’s inducing them.
By the next morning, I would wake up with little to no sleep, feeling more burnt out than ever. This counterproductive routine does the complete opposite of recharging my energy. At the beginning, I thought all I needed to do to get through the day was getting coffee or tea as a pick-me-up. But I realised that once I started drinking it on a daily basis, even though the caffeine kept me awake during the day, it also made me more jittery and agitated too.
The caffeine had accentuated my anxiousness by stimulating my “fight or flight” response. It kept me wide awake even when it’s bedtime, causing me to lose sleep at night. I can’t stay awake during the day if I don’t drink coffee but I can’t fall asleep at night if I do. It’s a vicious cycle that keeps going on and on. I didn’t know what I should do to break the cycle.
Anxiety Makes You Fret Over Negative Possibilities
While to others, my state of restlessness is merely seen as being overly-negative about a particular situation. They get frustrated at my tendency to overestimate the likelihood of future negative events. I felt severely misunderstood by people around me, even after I explained that I couldn’t curb my train of thoughts. Suffering from anxiety, I had a low sense of control and confidence over my ability to handle any obstacles should they happen. I fretted over all the “what-ifs” instead of enjoying the journey and the fruit of my labour.
What Do Experts Say About Anxiety Disorders?
Compared to non-anxious people, the mind of an individual with anxiety disorder comes with a malfunctioned attentional system. Their system fixates intensely on the threats and negative outcomes. As a result, they are constantly on a hyper-vigilant mode, looking out for threats. People suffering from anxiety often negatively-interpret even the most neutral situations or remarks. Due to their anxiousness, their minds are more likely to gravitate towards pessimistic outcomes.
Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health have not yet been able to identify the exact cause of anxiety disorders. However, research results point to a combination of genetic, diet, stress and environmental factors. The brain chemistry of an anxious mind is also being studied as a possible cause of anxiety in research.
Anxiety is a type of fear, it is a common emotional disorder experienced by large members of the society. Typical symptoms of anxiety include rapid heart rate and breathing, lack of concentration, restlessness and insomnia. However, these symptoms may vary for different individuals. Some signs of anxiety may even indicate other underlying issues such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Moment Of Realisation
One day I woke up and found myself feeling unrested with virtually no sleep. I figured I couldn’t keep going on with such lack of control over my mind. I began doing my own research by reading up about anxiety online in order to understand what I was going through. From there, I learned more about anxiety and what I was experiencing on a daily basis. I started making some changes to my daily routine and experimented with ways to make myself less agitated.
Important Tips To Overcome Anxiety
To start my days, I tried waking up a little earlier than I normally would in the mornings. Not sleeping in means that I get a few more minutes to myself before I begin my day. Besides my usual morning routine of getting ready, I would take a moment to mentally go through my to-do list and recite positive affirmations to myself.
Dietary wise, I started watching what I consume daily. During meal times, I would try to opt for healthier choices with the occasional treats such as my favourite cakes and pastries to satisfy my guilty pleasures. I have also steered clear of caffeinated food or drinks. In addition, I made it a habit to hydrate myself frequently throughout the day, as the human body requires at least two litres of water per day. Making sure that your body is properly hydrated is key when it comes to managing your anxiety condition. This is because dehydration results in the brain failing to function properly which in turn worsens anxiety.
In order to dissipate any anxiety or stress that I was feeling, I also incorporated simple workout routines into my weekly schedule. During the weekends, I would go hiking with my friends in the nature for a change of scenery. Besides that, I made sure I had time to unwind and pamper myself. I would have some time to myself by indulging myself with a facial mask and watching films.
Reach Out For Professional Help When In Need
Under the recommendation of a friend, I even reached out to a therapist for counselling sessions. With each session, I felt so much better as I was able to dissect and understand my emotions. The therapist also taught me some deep breathing exercises and meditation methods to soothe my anxious mind and help me focus.
Bedtime Routine For Better Sleeping Quality
At the end of the day, I would go to bed earlier than my usual bedtime. This is to cultivate my body to adapt to a more efficient sleeping pattern. To improve the quality of my sleep, I would make myself fall asleep easier with the help of a few drops of lavender essential oil. Just a few drops on the pillow is all I need to relax myself and sleep like a baby. It is a beneficial aromatherapy tool that aids in inducing calmness and relaxation.
Just before I fall asleep at night, I would practise gratitude by mentally listing down all the things I’m thankful for during the day. Also, I find it important to acknowledge and accept my anxiety as it is, instead of resisting it and burying the problem. One of the many things I would tell myself when I mentally panic includes positive statements and a reality-check of the situation. It’s pointless to worry about things I can’t change, instead I can make sure that I’ve tried my best to maximise the outcome.
You’re Not Alone In Suffering From Anxiety
To everyone struggling with anxiety, you are not alone and your feelings are valid. Make sure to express them in a healthy way and never be afraid to reach out for help.
If you know anyone who is struggling and in need of help, please direct them to organisations such as the Befrienders and Mental Illness Awareness And Support Association (MIASA) for them to reach out to. Sidewalk Talk Malaysia is another organisation that promotes listening to one another to create more engagement and connection.
This article is part of Espoletta’s CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) initiatives.