40 million Americans experience anxiety, one of the most common mental health conditions. Diagnosed with anxiety myself, I often struggle to find effective coping strategies. Throughout my personal journey, I discovered some essential tips for achieving and maintaining your mental health.
In tenth grade, I realized I had social anxiety. I had trouble making friends and kept to myself during my school years. In public places, like church, I always stayed behind my mom, fearful of unknown people and interactions. My anxiety prevented me from making good friends and feeling comfortable in my own skin. As a result, the only friends I made took advantage of me. They knew I was vulnerable and that I would not stand up for myself. This is because I did not want anyone judging me for talking back, even though I had every right to.
Friendships outside of school were also uncommon for me. I was afraid to tell people “no” due to my anxiety, so I developed a reputation as a people-pleaser. The thought of coming across as rude or insensitive deeply frightened me. As I focused on building my self-confidence, I began to stand my ground. We all have the right to say “no.” You are not obliged to do everything others ask of you. Only you control your life and your decisions.
Arriving at this new space in my mental health journey required me to put myself first, and to prioritize alone time. Finding hobbies provided me with a sense of identity as well as peace of mind. Currently, I enjoy walking and reading. I use both of them to clear my mind of overflowing anxiety. As I recovered from a stressful health issue, these hobbies were my two outlets during a dark time in my life. Negative thoughts that clouded my mind momentarily drifted away. Another outlet I used in the past is drawing. At 12-years-old, I didn’t realize I needed coloring to silence the voices in my head. I craved relief from my anxiety, and had to discover coping mechanisms on my own.
No one should underestimate the difficulty of this journey. A clear and positive mind is impossible to perfect, but it’s important to work toward that goal. There will be days when you are not feeling well. The key is to remember that a bad day doesn’t mean you failed. And you are not broken for struggling with your mental health. Everyone that suffers has their own set of issues. You deserve to be happy and at peace!
If you are feeling overwhelmed because of working overtime, take a day off to rest. If schoolwork is tiring you out, schedule time to walk, read, or watch television for an hour. Seek moments of peace among the chaos of life. Choose things that will bring you joy. This isn’t a cure by any means, but it’s a good place to start. If you believe you need more help, please reach out to a medical professional or healthcare provider. Your mental well-being is an important part of your health, no matter what anyone tells you.
Written by: Audre ArnettInstagram: @infinityaudreee