How I Manage My Stress/Anxiety Naturally!
I’m about to get real with you! I have had anxiety or high stress levels since I was very young. For the longest time I didn’t know what it was—it came in a physical form, even when mentally I was okay. My muscles would get tense or stiff, I would get an ache or queasy feeling in my stomach, and my breathing would become shallow. It would be hard for me to focus, sit still, or function properly. I first noticed it when I was taking piano lessons. I can’t remember the exact age, but I know I played from age 6 to 12 so somewhere around that timeframe, near the end of my piano career. Looking back now, I realized it stemmed from me wanting to play the song perfectly. I AM A PERFECTIONIST! It’s a good thing and a bad thing. The bad part about is that I fallen into some deep places because of how hard I’ve been on myself. Again, for the longest time I never realized it was anxiety. I thought I had something physically wrong with me. I was too scared that I was dying from some disease that I never really said anything. WOW TORI WAY TO BE DUMB! Don’t worry y’all I love myself and work hard to be a healthy critic towards my imperfections. But come on, that was dumb of me!
In high school, my anxiety and stress would manifest itself in several different ways: 1. the physical feeling I would have just about everyday and I would usually stress eat to help calm me down. I also thought it was my body’s way of telling me I needed to eat. I don’t have an explanation as to why I thought that except I knew I always felt better after I ate something. 2. Extremely emotional! (yes teenage hormones) but homegirl felt all the feels all the time ESPECIALLY when I made a mistake!! Literal tears every time I messed up—didn’t matter the degree of the mistake it was all bad. “I’m worthless”, I would often think. I remember getting a bad grade in Geometry and I thought my life was over. Not in a dramatic way, but seriously thought I would never be successful due to this one bad grade. It was bad! 3. Very hard on myself. Not only would I get upset when anxious, I would have very mean thoughts toward myself. Never thought I was good enough. Honestly there were some pretty low points I had in high school. It got dark and scary for me. The only thing keeping me from completely letting myself go was the small hope I had for a better life. I imagined the woman I wanted to be and slowly I dug myself out of the self deprecating hole I had fallen into so many years ago.
Hello College! Hello the best time of my life because ya girl GREW UP AND MADE AN EFFORT TO FIX HERSELF! ohhh heyyyyyy! College was an amazing time for many reasons, but for this post I will only mention how it helped me with getting over my imperfections and how it built back my confidence. Each year I grew more and more into the woman I always aspired to be. (Not there yet, always aspiring to be that woman, but I have definitely made some major strides towards her in the past 4-5 years). My community, choosing my own faith journey, seeking professional help, and being aware of my mental and physical health have helped me manage my stress and anxiety. Fast forward to today: Here are the 5 things that seriously have helped with my stress and anxiety!
Before diving in, I want to make a note and say, I realize there are varying degrees of anxiety and I don’t take this lightly. Mine is functional and can be managed naturally, but I know there are severe cases. If you recognize yourself in what I’ve said so far, keep reading. If you haven’t but you know you deal with stress in a toxic way or have an extreme case of anxiety, keep reading. I believe the practices I’ve put into place can be helpful to anyone BECAUSE we all have stress and we all go through tough seasons! I recognize some people do better with medication, but I found that I didn’t. It sent me into a deep depression and I knew I would rather feel some lows so I could feel the highs of life. Knowing medication wasn’t for me, I set off searching for the perfect products/routines that would help my anxiety. Personally, I treat everything naturally first, before going to medication. Okay here we go!
UNHEALTHY GUT = UNHEALTHY BRAIN! Our gut is our second brain. If it’s out of whack, you’re most likely suffering mentally as well. First, I gave up gluten. Gluten not only made me feel sick to my stomach, but when I gave it up, I noticed a huge difference in my anxiety. One being, I have not had a panic attack since giving up gluten. There is a scientific relation to gluten and how it affects your hormones with tons of research backing it up. Crazy right?! My mood swings have generally leveled out and my energy has improved. I have also treated my gut and found out that I had a leaky gut (sounds gross, but I don’t care). Leaky gut can be caused by having an inflamed gut. For me, one of the bacterias in my gut was high and another was super low. Now I’m not good at explaining the whole science of it all, but I would be happy to recommend the two fabulous nutritionists/dietitians I’ve worked with that helped treat my gut. I also have my report that I wouldn’t mind sharing the results if you wanted to message me privately. After treating my gut and adjusting my diet I noticed my general daily anxiety (the kind that comes on for no apparent reason) decreased. I’m still currently treating it with supplements, so if you have any questions, again, feel free to message me.
HORMONES OMG! I read a book called The Period Repair Manual and wow it changed my life. First I gave up birth control—the reaction I had deserves a whole separate post, so I will save that for another day, but in a nutshell: I took the initiative to have my hormones checked and the results were incredible. My estrogen and progesterone hormones were under the range they should be in and my testosterone was on the very low end of the range. I’ve been on birth control since I was 15 years old and my depleted hormones are a direct result of it. And we all know, when one hormone is out of whack, it affects the rest of them. I also have a gene mutation, which makes it hard for my body to convert cortisone into cortisol. I often feel extremely fatigued, have brain fog, and other symptoms due to this issue. Fatigue gives me anxiety because sometimes I’m too tired to get what I need to get done and so I get anxious about taking time to rest and so I don’t rest or it takes longer for me to feel rested and then I feel like I’ve wasted the day and here we are going down this downward spiral of anxiety! I still have a few more tests to see if anything else may be causing my hormones to be out of whack like my thyroid and what not, so updates to come. Diet is also a major factor in affecting your hormones, which I’ve been conscience about for the past 2 years. ORGANIC may be expensive, but man it’s super important when wanting to live a healthy lifestyle.
CBD IS WHERE IT’S AT Y’ALL! No matter how you feel about weed, CBD is the real deal. I, for one, don’t get high. It’s just not my thing. Recreational drug (wow I sound like a boring adult) and alcohol use is not a big deal to me. I do drink socially, but could give it up whenever I want. I don’t care if you smoke, I don’t care if you drink, as long as it doesn’t affect your daily life it’s seriously not a big deal to me. Live your life and be happy! Why am I saying all this? Well if you’re like my mother, you have your suspicions about CBD. (hi mom! I’m sure this is the part where you start talking to the computer screen as if it’s me) Well let me set the record straight: you DO NOT get high from CBD. It’s the part of the plant that calms you down but that’s it. I’ve been taking it at night and have seen a tremendous difference in my day to day routine. Ya know that physical feeling that would pop up while playing the piano? Yeah I still get that from time to time but it’s not so bad. CBD has helped my sleep, which in turn helps my fatigue, and my days are less anxiety ridden.
SPIRITUALITY KEEP READING EVEN IF YOU DON’T AGREE. (it’s always good to gain insight into someone else’s perspective that’s why I leave the comments open) I have to say working hard at strengthening my relationship with God has helped me a lot especially within this past year. I live less in the future, but now more present with what is happening, well, right now. When difficult things pop up, I turn to God first and I actually find inner peace. My mom had a health scare last month and my dad has been going through a few health issues as well and instead of getting angry or wildly upset, I prayed, I reached out to friends and asked them to pray, and I started reading my bible. Holy smokes, y’all, I have never felt so strong and confident about how things were going to turn out. It’s also helped with my patience! I’ve had to make some pretty big ADULT decisions recently and have found peace within my decisions. The future no longer scares me all of the time. It definitely still does here and there, but I know God’s got me and that his plan is better than anything I could ever imagine.
GRACE Y’all this is a biggie for me!! Give yourself some grace. It’s freaking hard, but trust me when you lean into that, when you forgive yourself, you are able to get back on your feet quicker and learn faster. I don’t beat myself up as much anymore. I’m still my harshest critic, don’t get me wrong, but I also have learned to let go of the small things. I’ve learned how to be better when others point out a flaw or a mistake I’ve made. That’s even harder for me to take because I’m a people pleaser!! But recognizing we all make mistakes and that we are human and that if I come from a place of love, then even the hard parts in life will be doable. Plus some people are just haters, am I right?! Giving yourself grace opens up your life to love in all capacities even in the most challenging seasons.
BONUS: FIND YOUR COMMUNITY. FIND A PODCAST THAT GIVES YOU A GOOD KICK IN THE ASS EVERYDAY. FIND THE PARTS OF YOU, YOU DO LOVE ABOUT YOURSELF! No explanation needed. Just do it!
Thanks for reading this (yes I know it’s long, but I felt like it all needed to be said, plus ya girl loves to talk soooooo) post! Thank you for letting me get a little personal with you guys. I hope you found something inspiring and that you can start working on your own inner peace! Happy Self Care September! Until next time!!