Open-Heart Surgery

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Keeping an open mind is difficult, but keeping an open heart is even harder. Mix in a variety of mental disorders such as anxiety, depression and OCD into the mix, and it's sure to make it that much more trying. It's no secret that I've personally dealt with anxiety for the majority of my lifetime. I have not only openly shared stories regarding my diagnoses, but I have also made it a point to do what I can to stop stigma and instead raise awareness for what can be done.

Though years have passed and I now have a good grip on my own mental health for the most part, working on bettering yourself and how to deal is a never-ending journey regardless of having any sort of disorder or not. I can openly admit that to this day, I do still have anxiety attacks at times and I am still learning the best ways to deal with my anxiety. However, with the growing knowledge I do have under my belt, I thought it'd be beneficial to pay it forward.

  1. Acceptance: one of the first steps to tackling your anxiety is to accept what you are currently dealing with. Take a moment, take a deep breath and calmly try to ask yourself what is making you feel anxious in that moment. It may have been a spur of the moment feeling that crept over you, but there is almost always a root cause. Narrowing this down can help us accept the anxious feeling and in turn, move forward with handling it. It's important to use this to remind ourselves that the anxious feeling won't last forever.
  2. Sleeping Patterns: a topic of importance across the board, but even moreso when any sort of anxiety is involved. The average adult does in fact need six to eight hours minimum in order to function productively. Improve the quality of your sleep by limiting your caffeine intake hours before bed as well as eliminating some screen time.
  3. Exercise: ideally, we should all get 15-30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week. Physical activity releases endorphins which help alleviate any symptoms caused by stress and nervousness.
  4. Maintenance: think of your body as a machine that not only needs consistent nourishment and maintenance, but a proper diet as well. Limit or avoid caffeine and alcohol, keep a consistent schedule of meals, and always stay hydrated!
  5. Preparation & Productivity: whenever we are feeling anxious or stressed, procrastination is always happy to lend a hand in our downfall. Instead of feeding into the temptation to disengage, continue tackling your to-do list one task at at time & at your own comfortable pace. Keeping ourselves prepared can help alleviate a huge feeling of impending stress and will bring about a mindfulness for your own needs.
  6. Breathe: anxiety comes hand-in-hand with an increased heart rate. At times your heart may feel like it will come out of your chest from the stress. The most effective way to lower anxiety (especially during any sort of anxiety attack) would in turn be to lower your heart rate. This can easily be done by focusing on your breathing. If dealing with an attack, it helps to find a comfortable position and take deep breaths through your nose. Be sure to maintain consistent breathing patterns without moving your chest too much. Repeating this a few times all while maintaining your breath should help lower any increased heart rate activity.

The next time that you feel like your heart might just burst from an overwhelming situation, simply try to practice all of the above. However, please note that if you or a loved one are in fact suffering from any sort of anxiety disorder, be sure to contact a physician for professional assistance and care.

Til next time, xx

Photographed by Melissa Catahan (@misacat_)

Once More Collared Crop Top—c/o Tobi
Mom Jeans—Urban Outfitters
All-White Leather Vans—Nasty Gal

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