Explaining Your Anxiety to People Who Don’t Understand

explaining anxiety to peopleAnxiety is… being excited for a new job but worried about driving to it.

Anxiety is… being afraid to be excited about something because then it might not happen.

Anxiety is… avoiding open spaces because you feel vulnerable.

Anxiety is… replaying a conversation in your head and thinking you said something dumb. 

Anxiety is so many things to many different people. Everyone experiences it in a unique way. However, explaining it to people who have never experienced it, at least long term, can be very difficult if not demoralizing at times. Some people are very understanding and others think “it’s all in your head” (thank you, Sherlock, I know it’s in my head but I still experience it!) So here’s how to explain your anxiety to people who don’t understand it. 

1. You Don’t Have to Explain It

Seriously, you don’t! Your health is no one else’s business but yours and your doctor’s. If you aren’t comfortable talking about it, then you don’t have to. People are so nosy nowadays. It always blows my mind what people think is okay to ask regarding someone’s health. No matter your condition (broken leg, expecting a baby, depression problems etc.) it’s no one’s business. Only you can decide to volunteer that information. 

Also, be careful who you choose to explain it to if you decide you want to. Some people really have no interest in changing their minds about certain topics and will dismiss you. Other people are know-it-all’s and will try to tell YOU what your problem is. Be choosy!

2. State the Obvious

Mental health problems like anxiety exist mostly in our minds. No one can really see them, therefore many people make flippant statements like “get over it” or “it’s all in your head.” Sometimes acknowledging that yes, your anxiety is “all in your head” (although we know anxiety can hurt us physically as well) but your mind has trouble differentiating reality from perceived threats, which makes daily living more of a challenge. You probably logically know that (insert threat here) is not likely to happen, but the anxious part of your mind is not able to register that threat as being dealt with. 

3. “Psychological Costs Outweigh Physical Benefits”

“Just stop worrying about…” If you have a particular anxiety disorder such as the fear of being in a crowd, then I highly recommend reading this article. It’s much more helpful than I can be when it comes to explaining situational anxiety! 

One situational form my anxiety often takes on is the fear of driving to a new place. I can’t just get in the car and drive. It seems so easy to put the car in drive and go where you need to, and sure, it would be very freeing if I could. But the mental toll of doing so is exhausting and even debilitating. Hours or even days of worrying about having to drive somewhere new does not outweigh the reward of actually getting to where I need to be. 

4. Explain Your Coping Techniques

Coping with a mental health disorder looks a little different for everyone. Some people may run or exercise, others may overeat, and so on and so forth. However you typically cope with your anxiety, share that with your audience. Explain why sometimes you need to do the thing you do to cope. 

Sometimes my husband asks why I walk back and forth from one room to another. I remind him that this is just my anxiety releasing. It helps to walk around a bit sometimes and let myself think. Explaining your “strange” habits can give them helpful insight into your coping. 

5. Explain the Goals You Have for Your Anxiety 

Always try to put a positive spin on it and share the goals you have for dealing with your anxiety. It might be something simple like starting a daily worry journal. Or it might be driving to a new place once a week. Whatever your goals are share them! Better yet, ask for help or encouragement! Involving the other person in your journey can help them better understand where you are, what causes your anxiety, and how you’re hoping to improve it. 

Please leave a comment with your ideas on how to explain anxiety! Share what’s worked for you!

20 Activities To Do During Self-Quarantine

20 things to do when youre stuck at home

Hey everyone, how are you holding up? Since last Saturday, I’ve pretty much spent every single night in bed watching tv and coloring a cat-themed coloring book (don’t judge, it’s awesome). But I’m finally at my wit’s end with my sedentary lifestyle. I NEED something to do, which inspired this post.

Next to the virus itself, mental health is my biggest concern right now. Not just for myself though, but for everyone! I like a relaxing weekend spent at home just as much as anyone else does, but it is not human nature to keep ourselves isolated from others for weeks on end. Isolation, or “social distancing” as we’re calling it, usually leads straight to depression. If you already suffer from poor mental health like I do, you’re going to need to find things to do to keep your body and mind active.

20 Things to do While You’re Stuck at Home

  1. Organize your closet! Donate things you don’t wear and create a closet system that works
  2. Learn to make candles! It’s easier than you think and it’s very relaxing (I wrote a blog on this!)
  3. Try a new fitness app! Tone It Up is offering free access right now to their platform
  4. Start composting! Since we’re all cooking at home a bit more, it’s a great time to start composting your food waste.
  5. Plant an herb garden! I ordered some self-watering herb pots on Amazon the other day (link here!) and planted some cilantro and basil. It’s growing in my kitchen on the window sill!
  6. Clean out the linen closet! They get so messy and chances are you probably have some towels in there they have seen better days. Reorganize everything and donate old towels and blankets to animal shelters.
  7. Start spring cleaning! Just get it done with so you can feel accomplished and be ready for the warm days ahead.
  8. Go for a walk around the neighborhood! It’s basic, but getting outside is going to be pretty important to your mental health.
  9. Try a new recipe! I bought ingredients a few weeks ago to make cake pops so that’s going to be new recipe to try.
  10. Get really good at manicures! I usually do my nails super fast and they look like it. Take your time and actually give yourself a good manicure.
  11. Rewatch your favorite sitcom! Seinfeld, Friends, The Office etc. Pop some popcorn!
  12. Clean out your car! Let’s be honest- most of us leave straw wrappers and old napkins in the cup holders. Go clean it out and maybe even vacuum if you’re feeling crazy.
  13. Learn Excel! Or another technical skill that can make you more valuable to employers.
  14. Do some yard work! Trim back the bushes, weed out flower beds, and lay some fresh mulch. Yard work is something most of us put off but its a good workout and your lawn (and neighbors) will thank you!
  15. Start your ancestry research! This is a super time consuming and interesting hobby that takes a lot of work but offers a big return. Now’s a great time to get started on your research!
  16. Learn calligraphy! You can find beginners calligraphy kits online and there are quite a few YouTube videos on how to get started!
  17. Write a letter to an older family member! Snail mail isn’t something millennials and Gen Zers are used to but older family members still love it, and frankly, you might too.
  18. Plan your next trip! Quarantine won’t last forever. Start planning where you might like to go and what you would want to do.
  19. Reorganize your kitchen cabinets! The spice cabinets, tupperware drawers, and junk drawer could probably use your attention.
  20. Eat dinner outside! My favorite restaurants always have outdoor seating. Take your dinner outside to your patio or even throw down a blanket in the grass. String up some twinkle lights and turn on some Louis Armstrong for a date night vibe!


Maintaining Mental Health in Times of Crisis

maintaining mental health during crisis

You guys this post could not come at a better time! It feels as though overnight the world plunged into a strange, unfamiliar darkness. But in the darkness, I feel like there’s always a little light flickering somewhere, and that’s what I want to talk about today! Maintaining our mental health during times of crisis is so important not only for ourselves, but also for the people around us.

Everyone Stop and Breathe

I feel like almost no one has stopped to think about the COVID-19 situation in a healthy way. Most people in my community ran to the grocery store and bought groceries they’d never normally buy (are you really going to eat that frozen broccoli, buddy?) Instead of coming up with a decent plan for themselves and their families, people panicked and bought unnecessary amounts of toilet paper, hand soap, and even baby formula and diapers leaving none for their neighbors.

Everyone needs to stop and take some time to evaluate their situation and determine what they need to do next. If you’ve ever seen a horror film, you’ll know panicking does nothing but make the situation worse. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and go from there.

Take Stock of Your Feelings

I know, I sound hokey saying this but for me, it really helped! Write down what you are feeling. It can be just single words or full paragraphs. Determining the emotions that are directing your actions can help you understand your outlook.

Personally, I feel very worried that I’m out of my normal routine and I feel sad that many of my social events were cancelled because I was looking forward to them. You might feel angry, scared, confused, or a hundred other emotions. However you feel, write it down, maybe share with someone else so you don’t feel alone in your feelings.

Do Something You Would Normally Do

I find that I can improve my anxiety and depression symptoms when I do things that I normally would. I like to clean my house on Saturdays and drink my normal 5 cups of coffee (yes, I know that’s too much coffee!) For you, that might be going outside to work in your yard, doing a workout from the comfort of your home, or maybe even making some homemade mimosas for a fun brunch at home! Whatever it is, add some normalcy to your new routine.

Look for the Heroes

I once heard someone say during times of crisis to look for the heroes in the story, they’re always there! I LOVE that. I see them on my Facebook newsfeed offering up the extra toilet paper they bought for free. I’ve seen people trying to organize groups of people to make sure food insecure kids have something to eat during the extended spring break. There’s also a viral video from Italy of people playing instruments on their balconies in an apartment complex. So start looking for the heroes and the positive news stories, they’re easier to spot than you think.

Help Someone Else

Sometimes taking the focus off of ourselves is the best way to improve our mental health. Find someone in your network that you can help during this time. If you don’t feel safe leaving your home, reach out to someone that might be having a hard time emotionally, mentally, or even physically. Right now, the elderly are most at risk. Check in with someone older who might not have been able to get to the grocery store and see how you may be able to help them out. Check in with the single mom or dad who’s not sure what they’ll do with their kids home for two weeks. Use a challenging time like this to find an opportunity.

In a few weeks, hopefully this will all be over and we can go back to a cautious normal. For now, adhere to the CDC’s guidelines to keep yourself healthy and do your best to find the light in the darkness!

The Wellness Checkup Questionnaire

Hey everyone, happy Monday! The last week has been a bit crazy with work and then my surgery. I just didn’t have a ton of energy to be honest, so I relaxed as much as I could. I also took the opportunity to do a little wellness check up. No, not checking my heart rate or cholesterol levels (although the results would be disturbing I’m sure) but checking on my mind, body, and soul- the three things that need to work together to promote my general well-being!

Where to Begin

How do you honestly check in with yourself? What do you need to know about your mind, body, and soul? I’m really not sure if I have the answer for everyone, but for myself, I try to answer a few questions such as:

  • Do I feel soreness in my muscles?
  • Am I tensing my shoulders?
  • Am I retreating to my bedroom all the time?
  • Am I actively avoiding social interaction?
  • Am I having trouble expressing my feelings?

To be honest, I just answered “yes” to all of these questions. I’ve definitely felt sore and tense lately and I’ve also been retreating to my bedroom and hiding my feelings. It just *feels* easier even though I know it does me no good.

But enough about me. I wanted to create a little checklist to help guide you through your mind, body, and soul check up. Do this daily, weekly, monthly, whatever you need! Print it out and keep it with you (right click, save to your computer).wellness checkup questionnaire

What to Expect for Mental Health in March

It’s finally March! Thank the good Lord we are out of the worst parts of winter. January and February are so hard on my mental health just because of all the cloud cover, the cold temperatures, and the dead vegetation. I live for spring, however! But with a new month comes new mental health considerations. Every month I try to outline what you may experience over the coming weeks and personally, I’ve found that it’s pretty accurate. Here’s what to expect for the month of March!

what to expect for mental health in march

I’ve already found that I’m extremely motivated but also kind of have some fuzzy thoughts. The trees are blooming here in Dallas and I can already feel my allergies forming. Combine that with my high-anxiety right now and it’s honestly hard have a coherent thought sometimes.

It gets better though! Once the sun starts shining and temperatures stay warmer, you’ll have a little more energy and seasonal affective disorder will likely start to fade if you’ve been experiencing that. One of my favorite quotes for pushing through my depression during the winter is by Albert Camus:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger- something better, pushing right back”

Don’t you just love that? I feel like March is the month where I begin to see that “invincible summer” appear. It’s a month where I’m reminded to keep going and keep trying even during the darkest of days. And as you’ve probably experienced, depression can cause you to have ups and downs when you least expect them. But if you’re like me, you always somehow find your strength! Keep going! Keep seeking the help you need! Spring is just about here!