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How To Deal With Anxiety As A Creative

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Escaping imprisonment of the mind

You’re sitting there, everything is fine until you sense it coming. It can strike at any moment and it becomes a daily battle of fearing the worst.

You get that overwhelming feeling as your throat tightens up and it feels like there is a sack of bricks laying on your chest.

Nausea begins to settle, things become blurry and even black. It feels like a heart attack is right around the corner.

You start to lose control.

You’ve become of prisoner of your own mind.

It’s great to have an imagination but sometimes that imagination can be a curse.

We are experts at creating problems that don’t exist, it’s almost like an art form. Some people handle this differently than others. Others, like me, tend to let their mind spiral out of control and ensues a panic attack.

In my case, it stems from a pessimistic mindset of creating negative outcomes that have never happened, typically out of stress.

It has affected many areas of my life but most importantly my creative ventures.

Everyone’s struggle is different and I want to express my experiences and how myself and other people deal with it.

Today I’ll be sharing:

  1. Society’s Outlook On Anxiety
  2. Taking the Edge Off
  3. Finding the Root Cause
  4. How I Cope
  5. How Others Cope

I will not let anxiety slow me down from maintaining focus and achieving my creative goals. I hope you find some peace, comfort and inspiration if you’re in the same boat as me.

1. Society’s Outlook On Anxiety

It’s funny how people who don’t deal with anxiety think it’s not that big of a deal. Sadly, I was one of these people and I didn’t realize the magnitude of the issue and it rocked my life.

My friend Nicole stated it the best, “There is this weird stigma that people who have anxiety need to ‘get over it’, but anyone who’s dealt with it knows it’s not always that quick, or that easy.”

It’s created a society where many people don’t talk about their problems. This has led to many suicides as people feel it’s there fault and that they are helpless. My other friend Zach exclaimed, “By being part of the stigma, you are helping these statistics rise (in reference to suicide numbers). By judging and looking down upon people with depression, anxiety, or any sort of struggle, you are hindering them from accepting that fact that they could use help.”

Don’t feed into what people say as you’re not “attention seeking” and you’re not “being a baby.” They aren’t experiencing your problems and have no idea what’s going on.

For all the people who tell you to brush it off, there are thousands of other people out there who are in your shoes and can offer help and advice.

You don’t have to deal with it alone.

Dealing with it is an everyday battle to feel normal. You constantly are fighting in your head and pondering the thoughts:

  • Is something wrong with me?
  • Am I going crazy?
  • Is this temporary or forever?
  • Am I going to die from this episode?

Chances are you’re not going to die but if you’re new to anxiety and not sure how to gain control of your mind, this thought will surely linger.

2. Taking the Edge Off

First off, I am prescribed “Happy pills” for my anxiety to take off the edge. Some of you may refer to them as Xanax.

I was once ashamed to admit this but realized many other people deal with this same issue all across the world. “Happy pills” provides a comic relief to the situation as I open up about my struggles to others.

Second off, I hate taking my medication because I loved taking my medication. I’ve recently made a goal to get off the medication as it can be highly addicting and was becoming a crutch for me as I was thinking up problems to give me an excuse so I could take it. I even thought it was cool to drink on it one Halloween and I ended up turning into someone I never want to be ever again. I needed to get away from it.

I felt like I’m not solving the root of the problem and I am just becoming a loyal customer to the pharmaceutical industry.

This is a strong opinion I’ve formulated as of late and I totally am not here to judge you if you take your medication. I very much respect everyone’s way of combating their episodes for peace of mind if you’ve been properly prescribed.

Instead of taking medication, my wife has significantly helped me with her Essential Oils. This isn’t a plug to sell you anything but if you are looking for a natural way to battle your anxiety feel free to check out her Instagram. She shares and teaches everything she knows about oils. She has a passion for helping others with these products and is more than happy to answer questions.

Sadly, many people live their entire lives without finding the core of where their anxiety comes from.

To me, this is the most important step of finding a way to overcome it.

3. Finding the Root of the Cause

It’s going on 3 years since I’ve experienced my first panic attack that put me in the ER. It sounds silly now but I literally thought I was dying.

Emily and I were in a bit of an argument that Sunday night so I was downstairs venting my frustration into some video games. I started feeling a wave of terror and became extremely overwhelmed.

My throat and chest tightened up and I couldn’t breathe. Things started to go dark and I was losing control and fearing the worst. I told her I thought I was having a heart attack and she rushed me to the ER.

I asked myself, “Why and how is this happening to me?”

Over 3 years I’ve been diving deeper into this why. I literally thought I was crazy but have grown to realize that I do it to myself.

I’ve always been a person who fills my plate to the brim with projects, activities, and commitments. There was nothing I couldn’t accomplish and I wanted to be good at everything. I felt untouchable.

Sometimes that plate overflows and you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. You and your plate begin to crack and you realize you are a fragile soul.

So I ask myself, “Do I get these panic attacks because I’m taking too much on?”

The answer is yes, but it goes even deeper.

As I’m writing this I’m discovering even more as I never truly have written it out. My anxiety stems from fear.

I feel a deeper sense of fear of being a failure. I fear letting people down. I fear not being good enough. I fear that what I’m doing won’t matter. I fear not being safe and secure financially.

All the aforementioned reasons are why I feel I need to take so much on in my life.

I still keep a full plate to this day, but I’m more aware of what I’m doing and what I can and can’t do. It’s difficult to say no things but I have a clear vision of what I’m trying to accomplish.

Knowing what you want and how to do it eases the stress and anxiety.

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4. How I Cope

To me a panic attack is like driving a car. While you’re driving, you randomly begin to let your mind wander and think of negative scenarios like, “What if my breaks give out?” and “What if another car hits me?”

You begin to live in these self-created problems and your imagination runs wild. That’s when you lose control of the wheel and the world begins to spin around you. Inevitably you are going to crash.

This mindset can have you living in fear each day.

How can I prep myself to avoid getting in a mindset of losing control and what can I do during the moment of an episode?

Avoiding Panic Attacks

1. Setting Clear and Defined Goals

In my instance, setting clear and defined goals helps take the pressure off so I can avoid them in the first place.

Taking on a million things and approaching them with no game plan or set vision can become overwhelming. You don’t know where to start and you’ve defeated yourself from the get go.

This makes you susceptible to panic attacks as you are in a fragile state of mind and begin to create problems for yourself.

Writing out and defining my goals has been the biggest source of growth in me taking control over my mind and breaking free from this mental prison.

You have to know what you want in life and set up a plan of action. In order to reach the big goal, you need to set up manageable, small goals along that way. That way you can measure progress and stay aligned with your vision.

When I channel all my energy into that one thing and give myself a few small daily tasks a day to accomplish, I feel less anxiety and stress. I feel productive as tackling 2–3 tasks a day is much easier than staring at the long term goal and wondering how to get there.

Daily, achievable goals build momentum. Momentum builds confidence, provides clarity and peace of mind that you’re headed in the right direction. It settles the mind and gives you something to look forward to each day.

2. Finding Outlets

When your hobby becomes your job, as is the case with me, I find it’s necessary to have secodary outlets as my job can create that stress that leads to episodes.

Working out is my outlet for letting go of every day stress that has built up. I can shut off the rest of the world and find my zone. It’s a friendly competition with myself in the gym and releasing those endorphins floods me with positive thoughts of who I am on the inside as well as what I look like on the outside.

Feeling good about yourself is important. It is healthy for you to like who you are inside and out.

3. Talking About Your Struggles

Finally, just being able to talk to someone about your anxiety really helps. Sharing your issues can help you find the root of the cause as well as help find alternative ways to avoid and deal with episodes. Sometimes you just need to talk or write it out. It seriously helps and I feel empowered as I share mine.

Expressing my fears and how they apply to my goals has really taken the pressure off my shoulders. I admittedly put a lot of pressure on myself to do great things because I believe in me and what I am doing, but having people to talk to puts things in perspective.

I realize I need to stop being so hard on myself and that I can take things as they come, one day at a time.

I’m turning my marathon into a short sprint. Reaching my long term goals won’t happen over night and I need patience in taking things on day-by-day.

I mentioned in my previous post that I’m here to help. I am an open ear so if you are relating to this, please contact me and maybe I can help provide clarity so you can pursue your creative desires.

Dealing With an Episode

When I sense one coming on, the trick is to find a way to divert my attention to something else. I need my mind to focus on another task to regain control.

I start randomly folding laundry, putting away dishes, or picking up things throughout the house. Anything that will allow me to perform a mindless task.

I also resort to splashing water on my face as I try to catch my breath. Deep breaths in through my nose and slow breaths out through my mouth. Using Stress Away, Peace & Calming and R.C. oils really help me out as well.

There are also times where I need to look myself in the mirror and give myself an intense little pep talk. It snaps me out of the funk as I coach myself to be stronger and overcome this mindset I’ve fallen victim too.

5. How Others Cope

I’ve been curious how others deal with their battles with anxiety and I posted a Facebook status asking, “To all my friends who deal with anxiety. How do you deal with it in the moments you’re losing control and how do you cope with it daily? How do you suppress the conflict of creating problems that don’t exist?”

The response I received was overwhelming and I found comfort knowing that so many close people I knew struggled with anxiety and they had some interesting ways of coping that I will definitely implement into my life.

  • Mindfulness has been very helpful for me. It helps you calm down and center your mind.” – Chrissy
  • Meditation, slow, deep breaths in the heat of the moment. And reminding myself that what I’m feeling is both irrational and temporary. Also to level out the negative thoughts I like to list five things I love about me/my relationships with loved ones/I’m grateful for.” – Megan
  • Start a new hobby. Your old hobby has become your job. It’s the downfall of doing what you love. My hobby is named Sheila. She’s so beautiful. (showing a picture of his guitar)” – Taylor
  • Try to concentrate on the big picture, think about only what you have the power to change and try to force any what ifs out of your mind. To avoid conflict force yourself to refrain from speaking until you settle your thoughts. Take deep breaths and begin working on the things within your control to reduce your level of anxiety.” – Cassandra
  • If I have an anxiety attack I concentrate on specific things. 5 things I can see, 4 things I can touch, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell…for other ways to just handle it on a daily basis I close my eyes, take deep breaths, remove myself from the situation, cry, call or text someone, write things down, etc.” – Audra
  • “I’ve learned that a lot of it is how you treat your body, and pay attention to what you’re putting into it. It’s easier said than done, but if you can just let everything go and start treating yourself right, things start getting a lot better. Surround yourself with people in a similar mindset. Stop worrying about people that think you’re weird, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Kevin
  • “Regular exercise has given me my life back. It makes such a huge difference for me. Between that and meditation (I recommend the happify and headspace apps) I feel like I’m back in control of myself.” – Deanna
  • Ten minute naps, and making sure I have at least 8 hours of sleep was a start. Then I moved onto figuring out what triggers my anxiety. This book changed my life (The Power of Thinking Without Thinking).” – Katie
  • I pray. I read devotionals about anxiety and being overwhelmed and taking it on task at a time. It calms me. I also make lists. And there is satisfaction in checking those things off.” – Brad
  • Look up grounding techniques. This is something I use with my clients who struggle with anxiety. If I feel a panic attack coming on, I sometimes say the serenity prayer to myself. I also try and focus on breathing and on one particular thing In the room.” – Hilary

These are just a few worthwhile mentions from a ton of input people gave me. Again, there is a community of people and a ton of resources out there to help you get through this.

I wish I would’ve taken advantage of this sooner.

Break Free of Imprisonment

Your mind can become a prison but you have the power to break free.

Everyone’s struggle is different and we all have different ways of coping. What works for some doesn’t work for others.

Be accepting of yourself and others and realize that you can help yourself and people who are dealing with it too.

Be a part of the solution and not the problem.

Again, if you’re struggling with anxiety, feel free to email me and share with me your problems. You don’t have to deal with this alone.

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