Taking a Moment to Breathe and Soothing My Anxiety

I am still trying to maneuver and figure this whole anxiety thing out. I want to be as authentic and as honest as possible, and that means admitting that I am not perfect about managing my anxiety all the time. There is nothing wrong with that. Anxiety is tough. Everyone’s journey with it is different, and this is just a small snippet into mine.

When I was in elementary school I was placed in the “advanced” group of students. This meant that I was performing higher than I was expected to, and I would be learning harder material than my peers in the “lower” groups. I somehow understood that there was a hierarchal system being set in place even though my teachers tried to mask it. I always wondered if anyone else knew what was happening, but I also definitely felt pressure to maintain my “advanced” status.

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These group divisions continued into middle school as I was put into comparatively harder classes, and soon I had developed an unhealthy relationship with perfection that only continued to intensify during high school. Yet, I started to realize that I was not only feeling pressure from school, but from all aspects of my life. If I felt out of control or if something was not to my standard of perfect, I worried. I worried a lot. I never expressed how I felt to anyone in fear that I would appear as shameful or weak.

However, once I entered college, I met a friend that was truly the catalyst in modifying my perspective. She was open with her feelings, and one day, she told me how sometimes she felt like an elephant was standing on her chest whenever she got overwhelmed or nervous. I was amazed because in that moment, she had just verbalized a feeling that I had experienced for years. If she could talk about it, that meant that I could eventually discuss it too.

Nonetheless, while I continue to struggle with communicating how I feel and my obsession with perfection and control rages on, I still strive to make improvements. I have learned that while I cannot control the onset of anxiety, the best tactic for me is taking a moment to myself to breathe.

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It may sound simple, but it proves itself effective. Deep breaths do wonders, and whenever I focus on how my body is working just to breathe, I feel centered. It helps me slow my panic down. 

I think about the air coming into my nose and how it expands my chest and stomach. Then, I exhale all of the air out and feel my body slowly collapse back down. Spending just a little bit of time breathing can make a world of difference for me, and it gives me a sense of being, something that I sometimes lose in the midst of anxiety.

Beyond that, I have further recognized that I am able to find serenity in other activities like going on walks outside, painting and listening to my favorite songs. Sometimes just being outside and seeing the environment around me existing so peacefully can put me at ease. Painting additionally gives me a creative and constructive outlet for expressing my emotions, and listening to music is incredibly therapeutic as certain rhythms or lyrics can generate a sense of stability that may be necessary in moments of worry. 

Overall, it is important to note that anxiety happens in flux, and it can be caused from certain actions or simply from nothing at all. Breathing helps me, but it might not be a successful method for others. Taking time to monitor and nurture your mental health is key not only in high-stress moments, but in life. Everyone’s anxiety is different, but having patience for yourself is vital all across the board.