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The messy blur called my life has brought me anything but peace in between the trials and tribulations of navigating a mental illness that is so widely spread but one that few truly understand.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects millions every year and through my own research after my diagnosis, I've come to find that everyone is affected differently which makes it that much more complicated to understand and fully grasp what you're in for.
It's almost like belonging to an exclusive club, except you didn't ask to join; being on a ride you can't get off because it doesn't stop. For the Grey's Anatomy fans: a carousel that never stops turning.
While I've been diagnosed less than a year, it's hasn't taken me long to find extreme difficulty in certain aspects of my life such as explaining the complexity of my situation to family members, friends and to people who are just curious. As much as I would love for them to truly understand what I deal with on a daily basis so it could ease their minds and dissipate the fear that stems from their uncertainty, I've also become very much aware that this is not a reality. What the reality is is that no one can truly understand GAD unless they too have experienced it.
This is something I'm still coming to terms with so while the ride continues, I've been on a search to instill some peace in my life because this ride is anything but.
Below are a few things I have found helpful and have since become daily rituals that I truly look forward to doing every day. I hope they are as helpful to you as they are to me.
1. Drinking More Water
This one seems pretty simple but I know I've gotten into moods where doing the most basic things to function become unbearably hard and if I'm not careful, I slip into a string of days where it becomes progressively worse and harder to come back from.
But think about it: if we don't take care of our bodies, how do we expect to have the energy to take care of our minds?
Mind and body coming together has been a huge theme in my healing because I now realize they've been disconnected for so long and in seeing how it's affected me, I am determined to reconnect the two.
I bought this bottle mainly because ordering from Amazon means I can stay home, but also because it has markers on the side to remind me to hydrate every hour. It also has a detachable fruit-infuser center, which I love because sometimes plain ol' water just doesn't do it for me, a sleeve, and a cleaning brush. I can say that I highly recommend this, plus it comes in fun colors; who doesn't want that?!
On top of all that, I've found it extremely helpful to drink a glass of water the moment I wake; meaning each night I place an extra glass on my nightstand. In doing so, I've found it wakes my body up and I start the day off right by hydrating.
2. Practicing Yoga
I've done yoga here and there over the years but truly committing to my practice every day has worked wonders in my life.
I find I am calmer, I feel better physically AND mentally—which is huge—and it gives me a moment away from the craziness going on to relax, reconnect and breathe.
Because I spend a lot of my time at home, YouTube has been instrumental in expanding my practice. There are so many yogis to choose from, various styles and if I'm not feeling the video, I can search for a new one.
Once again, Amazon saves the day! What can I say, Prime is a gift and any chance I can, I use it. I especially love this yoga mat because it's extra thick; let's face it, there's nothing worse than having your practice ruined by feeling the cold hard floor beneath you.
Coming in a variety of colors and designs, you have your pick of the lot!
BONUS: This super convenient mat sling that also doubles as a yoga strap!
3. Daily Meditation
Insight Timer was recommended to me by a yogi friend that uses it in her teachings as well as her personal practice. I gave it a try one day and now I'm hooked.
Filled with guided meditations, music, nature sounds to help you fall asleep and more, Insight Timer is perfect for when you need a moment.
Taking time for yourself is important in general, but becomes even more so when you are healing. Self-love plays a huge role and if we don't take those moments, we prolong the process; that's not to say the goal is to rush through, but savoring each healing moment aids in understanding not only the situation, but ourselves.
One of my favorite components of this app is that each meditation displays the durations so you can choose how much or how little time you want to spend without having to cut your you-time short!
Before my official diagnosis, I was looking into preventative care in any form I could get my hands on. I came across an article detailing the benefits of aromatherapy, fled to Amazon, purchased this sweet little thing along with a set of essential oils (link down below—vegan/cruelty free!) and it's been on every day since.
Every day I mix and match two, sometimes three, oils, mostly eucalyptus, peppermint and lavender as these are calming and soothing to the anxious self. Every night I choose lavender to help me drift off to sleep after a mindful yoga and meditation session.
I've even found that splashing a little on the shower walls and letting it steam up a bit before I hop in allows for a soothing and relaxing shower whether it's to kickstart or end my day on a good note.
BONUS: Vegan/Cruelty Free Essential Oil Set
5. Practicing Gratitude
In order to get a handle on my anxiety, even before I knew what it was, I sought help at a medical fusion facility that centers around holistic healing.
Through my time there, I was given a multitude of coping mechanisms and while some worked better than others my favorite, by far, was practicing gratitude. Each day I would recount three things I was grateful for in an effort to change the way I think.
I was walking around town after a session, popped into a thrift shop to visit a friend and on the front table of the store was a tiny gratitude journal. 365 pages, some blank, others with poems and prompts to challenge your thinking. In the beginning of the book was a story from the author talking about how she practiced gratitude for six weeks or so, noticed the shift in her mind and decided to create this little book to challenge others to practice gratitude for a whole year. It was $5. I bought it. I have not regretted it since.
Each night I fill a page, whether I want to or not, and it serves not only as a reminder to recount and appreciate what I have, but to also see how far I have come. The shift is real!
On top of practicing gratitude, I've found a great deal of solace in journaling. Whether it's writing about something good that happened that day or about something bothering me, I fill page after page, pouring it all out.
We know better than to hold things in; it serves no purpose except allowing negative energy float about. Writing it down provides a release from your body to paper and you are free to continue on negativity free; the weight lifted off your chest.
Looking back on where I started nine months ago I have come a very long way that has been filled with trial and error methods to make my life just a little bit easier.
It's all thanks to my daily rituals for carrying me through some of my toughest days and I look forward to those filled with more light.
What works for you? I'm always on the lookout for new methods and would love to try some of yours!