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My Journey with Anxiety & Self-Esteem

Image via The New York Times

For as long as I can remember I have been dealing with anxiety. I have always worried about the tiniest of things and overthought even the most irrelevant stuff. If you’ve ever experienced a full-on panic attack where you felt like you were drowning and couldn’t breathe, or choked on your words because the anxiety was getting the better of you, you know how frustrating and scary it can get. I have constantly tried to hide it, to pretend like it wasn’t there. The fear of failure, of not being able to meet people’s expectations, of not being good enough or smart enough, made me constantly doubt myself and my abilities to accomplish amazing things. It has held me back from being the best version of myself, the one who doesn’t freeze when she’s talking in front of a crowd and the one who is not afraid to voice her opinions loud and clear.

A lot of people deal with anxiety, some are better at concealing it than others, or, some people, are not even aware of the fact that they are suffering from it. In fact, approximately 18% of the adult population of the United States has it, making it the most common mental illness. I know how hard it can be to admit to it, and it can be even harder to seek help. However, suffering in silence is not the best way to go. I know first hand how awful it can be to have to put up with anxiety, especially as a young adult who is still going through school, which can be particularly confusing and stressful if you’re suffering from it (my anxiety is thriving during exam season.) Dealing with sweating, muscle tension, a fast heartbeat, and hyperventilation during stressful times is no fun, so here’s a couple of things I have personally tried in order to manage my anxiety that have proved to be really helpful:

1. Talk to someone

It can be scary to open up to another person and confide in them about something as personal as this. Talk to a parent, a friend, a sibling, a counselor, etc. Anyone. Bottling up your feelings and emotions will only lead to intense breakdowns in the future, so
try to avoid suppressing your emotions as much as possible.

2. Meditate

Find a quiet place where you feel safe and try to quiet your mind for 15-20 minutes every day. Meditating helps lower anxiety, however, it is harder than it sounds, or at least that’s how it was for me. It took me a while to be able to completely be able to free my mind and let go of any negative thoughts running through my head, even if just for a couple of minutes. These are a few meditation techniques that I personally found very helpful.

3. Write, write, write!

There is nothing that I find more liberating than writing my feelings down. If you don’t have someone to talk to about how you feel or are not ready to do so, write down your thoughts. It can help put things into perspective and enable you to think of possible solutions.

4. Get active & go outside!

Going outside for a walk or a run is bound to lighten up your mood even if you are feeling really down and anxious. Exercising has been scientifically proven that the repetitive action of activities such as running, cycling or walking produce a calming effect that helps take your mind off things.

I haveĀ gotten better, throughout the years, at dealing with my anxiety and low self-esteem, which only fueled my anxiety. I have learned to cope with stressful situations more efficiently and be surer of myself. I have gone from comparing myself to others in my life and feeling like I wasn’t good enough, to realizing that in fact, I am enough. We are all on a journey with twists and turns, rocky moments, and unpaved paths that are only meant to make us stronger. Anxiety can get the best of us, but, we can conquer it. Remember that you’re not alone, ask for help, and trust me, you’ll get through it.

 

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Sorana is a high school junior who hopes she can use her voice to move the world towards a better place. In her free time, she loves to read and listen to Broadway music.

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