Managing anxiety.

Managing anxiety.

I discovered last month that after battling chronic stress and anxiety over a period of 19 years, I had developed Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which went unnoticed for a long time. There was Life to deal with. Earlier, it was MIL’s illness and her passing away, followed by my pet dog’s illness and his passing away, and then, last year, hubby’s illness and many other unimagined, unexpected events that turned my world upside down.

It is only so much that a person can handle without getting intensely affected by the events that take place in his or her life. But, when the stress, the fear and the exhaustion gets unbearable, it is sure to affect a person’s mental health.

I am glad I sought professional help when I realised I couldn’t take it any longer.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder can be managed provided you work on yourself and your thoughts that cause you the anxiety. And, yes, also seek medical help.

So, after a few sessions of counselling and medicines that help in controlling the anxiety and its thought process and get an 8 hour uninterrupted sleep (ah, sheer bliss!), I have been handling my anxiety much better. I have learned to distract my mind from thoughts that cause the anxiety to escalate; I have made a few changes in my daily life to help me loosen up a bit, relieve the stress and learn to live in the moment that makes things a lot easier for the mind.

Today, I would like to share the ways in which I manage my anxiety and am in a much calmer space despite the chaos around. Well, chaos is omnipresent, isn’t it? It’s always going to be your companion in Life!

ANXIETY:

Anxiety is a feeling we all experience in our life. Some anxiety is even necessary for us to be able to face and deal with any situation that comes in our life at every turn. However, when this anxiety takes over our mind to such an extent that it becomes difficult to deal with everyday life, we ought to seek professional help. There is no need for any embarrassment, really. Our body will function to its optimum only if we are in a healthy frame of mind.

So, if you do feel your anxiety and fear making life difficult for you, then:

  • Consult a mental health expert,

  • Seek counselling, and

  • Take the prescribed medications.

  • And sharing a doctor’s advice :

    Try and understand the thoughts that cause you the anxiety and look for solutions. Journaling helps. Write down the thoughts that cause you anxiety and find ways to tackle those issues if and when they do arise.

Most of the times, people with GAD imagine the worst case scenario which causes extreme anxiety. Know, that whatever happens, you will be able to face it, cope with it. Diverting your attention won’t help in the long run. But, assuring yourself that you can and will deal with the uncertainties in Life will arm you with the strength you need.

EASY AND EFFECTIVE WAYS TO MANAGE ANXIETY:

PRACTICE MINDFULNESS:

An easy way to practice mindfulness is to make it a goal to be followed for a particular number of days. Say, for a week or so. Every task you do, make sure your mind is in that very moment a 100%. Grab your mind by its collar when you feel it wandering and bring it back to the present. it isn’t easy, mind you, but you need to do it for yourself. Just do it a few times, while cooking/working/walking, and you will notice how it relieves the mind.

BREATHE:

Breathe. The one process our life depends on and the one process we often neglect. We aren’t even aware whether we are breathing correctly.

Sit cross-legged on the floor, or a chair; be comfortable and then inhale slowly and deeply, for as long as you can. Then, exhale the same way. Focus on your nostrils as you take in the air and let it out, or focus on your stomach as it inflates and deflates as it takes in the air and lets it out. Do it just for 10 counts, initially. And, then, do it whenever you are sitting idle, lost in thoughts. Bring your mind to the moment and begin to breathe. And, FOCUS on your breath. DO NOT let your mind wander.

SLEEP:

An uninterrupted sleep is so necessary for our body and mind to recover from the day’s exhaustion, to repair itself and to rejuvenate.

Switch off your gadgets–phones, laptops and TV–an hour or half an hour before bedtime. Carry a book or the newspaper to bed and read or solve puzzles. Within ten minutes of doing this, you are sure to feel drowsy. This is because there isn’t the blue light emitting from the book/newspapers, neither is there any movement on a screen in front of your eyes to keep your mind alert. Sudoku and crossword puzzles work for me. Find out what works for you.

DIVERT YOUR MIND:

Each time I used to travel in the car with hubby at the wheel, I would panic. So much so, that I used to beg for divine intervention to come and save me. I am mortally scared of speed. I feel at ease only when the vehicle runs at a speed of 60 Kmph. Slower than that is also welcome!

Now, thankfully, since hubby learned about my GAD, he drives real slow. And, if by chance, there is a nutcase driving like a maniac and hubby tries to veer away from his path, I hold on tight to my bag in my arms and go away to some far away fantasy land. This works like a charm. Although, what I do need to work on, is to tell myself that I can cope with the speed and assure myself that whatever happens, I will take care of it.

TAKE A WALK/PRACTICE YOGA:

Any form of exercise, when done with complete concentration, helps distract your anxious mind.

I practice yoga for 30 – 35 minutes in the morning and go for a 40 minutes walk in the evening, without fail. And, while doing these activities, I do not have any app guiding me or recording/calculating the number of steps or calories burned. I just stay in the moment. I breathe, take in the scenery, or concentrate on the asanas. That’s THE way to enjoy your workout!

LISTEN TO MUSIC:

Music is therapy for the mind and the soul. Agree?

Just put on some music of your choice while working or doing chores and feel your mind relax. It is, indeed, therapeutic. I have made a habit of listening to music at least once a day–morning or evening–and it leaves me feeling so fresh!

COMMUNICATE:

Talking things out with your close ones helps tremendously.

I have marked days of the week when I call up my close friends and cousins and have a heart to heart talk with them. I have set alarms in my phone that remind me of which day and at what time I am to talk to which person. Amusing, I know, but this helps me stay connected with my close ones and have my support system when I am in need.

INDULGE IN FRIVOLOUS ACTIVITIES:

Absolutely insignificant stuff like looking for matching accessories for your clothes, deciding what clothes you will wear for which occasion (even if there isn’t one anytime soon), pampering your body with a spa treatment at home, preparing face masks or body scrubs from stuff in your kitchen cabinets–it is super fun, I tell you! These things, though frivolous, push out the anxious thoughts that often find a snug spot in our mind. Try it. It’s silly, I know, but it helps.

READ:

Fiction, especially suspense-thrillers are my go-to books when I need to divert my mind. Self-help books seldom help me at such times, coz I don’t want any gyaan; all I want is some adventure to read about or some murder mystery that grips my attention like nothing else can.

PURSUE A HOBBY:

My favourite is art, and especially, the Zentangle. And, these days, I am bitten by the Mandala bug. I can forget the world and its hundred worries when I sit down to make a mandala.

Anxiety is a feeling that will always be lurking somewhere in your mind. Life is such. But, you need to show your anxiety who’s the boss!

Take care…

Love,

SHILPA…

P. S.

Do read my friend Sanch’s comment below. She is a psychologist and has shared some much-needed advice for us.

Thank you so much, Sanch! 💟

Love,

Shilpa.

Manage your anxiety the easy way

New Year Resolutions: Why our plans fizzle out.

New Year Resolutions: Why our plans fizzle out.

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

So, finally 2019 is here–sparkling and glittering with its newness, infusing us with the hope and vigour to make it a success story. I am sure most of us have decided on some new resolutions and promised to stick to those and fulfil them by the end of the year. Right?

But, as we all are so aware, all those grand resolutions are going to fizzle out by the end of the second week of January, itself! Or, may be by the end of January. And, we will find ourselves back where we started…wondering why we failed to stick to our plans and questioning our tenacity. By February, we will vow to stick to our resolutions the next year, come what may!

But, do you think we will succeed in 2020, either? I bet not.

Why do you think this happens? Why do our grand plans fizzle out? Why do we forget all about our resolutions to turn a new leaf in the new year just days after we start?

I think, the reason is, that we make resolutions that are too ambitious and grand to handle. Seldom do we assess ourselves, our capabilities and our limits before making those resolutions.

Someone, who might wish to reduce weight, might decide to stay off sweets, altogether; enrol at a gym and workout like crazy; follow a diet to get the figure they so wish.

Someone might decide to work towards that promotion they so seek and slog night and day.

And, someone else might decide to live a more fulfilling life where they spend more time with their families and discover themselves, follow their passions, because, well… YOLO! I mean, You Only Live Once! ( I was so unaware of the meaning of YOLO till sometime back!).

But, is it that easy?

Being strict with your diet, hitting the gym regularly….can all get frustrating after a while because you never know when Life might throw in some surprises or test your commitment. All of our best laid plans could fly right out the window!

Or, in our quest to reach ahead in the “race”, we would neglect our health, our sleep and our family and if things don’t go as we expect–which is what usually happens– we could very well end up depressed.

And, people who wish to live a more fulfilling life with their families and all, can definitely achieve it, provided they place their smartphones and other gadgets under lock and key once they are home. But, do you think you can resist the temptation of checking the notifications on those hundreds of social media platforms to see how many people approve of you and the stuff you share?

You might do it for a day or two, but then will just give in to the urge to grab that phone and forget all about discovering yourself. Such is the control our gadgets have over us.

So, all the enthusiasm with which we begin the new year starts to wane and our singleminded devotion towards fulfilling our resolutions begins to peter out. We do make a few feeble attempts at getting our mojo back, but in vain. And, soon, we fall into the rut we all were so used to earlier. Life takes over along with the uncertainties She brings our way and we realise we will never be able to win over Life and Her big plans!

WHAT WE NEED TO DO INSTEAD

This year, I decided to make a few goals to follow; goals that I haven’t labelled as “resolutions”; goals which would be doable and easy on me and my mind. After all that happened in my Life since 2017, all I need today is peace of mind. That’s all. I am not at all trying to be overly ambitious, or enthusiastic, or anything. All I am looking for is the elusive peace, and how to make it a part of my life, and thus these goals.

So, I jotted down a few things that I needed to make a part of my everyday life. Little things, really, like…

Simple, doable things that are sure to change my outlook towards Life, make me a stronger person, calm me during the tiresome, stressful moments and yes, build a solid support system that I so need.

Of course, it is not easy, for instance, to accept Life as it is, or believe in myself when things aren’t going my way. I am human, after all. But, being grateful for whatever I have is bound to change that and give me a fresh new perspective about my Life, and that is exactly what I wish to achieve.

So, instead of coming up with resolutions we will never stick to, why not make smaller goals to work on on an everyday basis; goals that are easier to manage and do not burden us with expectations.

Here’s what you could do if you wish to fulfil your new year resolutions…

8 WAYS TO STICK TO YOUR RESOLUTIONS:

1. Take baby steps…make smaller goals that don’t tax your mind if you miss out once in a while. Remember, it’s okay to slip off the track once in a while. Make goals keeping this in mind.

2. Don’t be too strict with yourself as far as meeting your goals is concerned. I mean, suppose you decide to stay off sweets, then take it a day at a time and keep aside a day when you can cheat on your plan. Have a chocolate, or your favourite dessert–for the sake of your taste buds–and, then workout a bit extra the following day. But, then again, don’t overdo it. Bottom line is, care for your body, be considerate towards its limits.

3. If you wish to cut down on your smartphone use, set an alarm for 9 pm when you will switch off the WIFI and put the phone away. Do not switch it on as soon as you wake up. And, once you do switch on, time yourself. No more than 10 minutes to check whatever you wish to and as soon as your 10 minutes are up, switch it off again. Stay away from it for at least a couple of hours between every 10 minutes phone break you take.

4. If you have decided to exercise/workout everyday, do it in the morning beginning with just 15 minutes. After a week, increase it by 10 minutes. 25 – 30 minutes of exercise is more than enough. And, take a break on Sundays. Your body requires the rest.

5. Prepare a journal in which you note down your goals and how you manage to achieve them everyday. Be true to yourself. No cheating!

6. At the end of a week/ fortnight, if you find that you have been pretty consistent with working on your goals, reward yourself.

7. Remember to take life ONE DAY AT A TIME–this includes working on your goals, too!

8. And, finally, remember that you are NOT competing with anyone except yourself–your old self. So, don’t be a tyrant and drive yourself crazy over your goals. It will affect your mental health. And, if your mental health suffers, believe me, there’s no point working on any other aspect of your life.

So, what goals have you made for the new year? If you haven’t yet, I would suggest you give it a good thought, take everything into consideration and then decide what it is that you need to change. I am sure you will have a higher chance at succeeding at it!

Wish you the very best!

May you all have a happy, healthy and a peaceful New Year!

God bless!

Take care, coz I care…

Love,

SHILPA…

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EFFECTIVE WAYS TO FULFIL YOUR RESOLUTIONS

Mandala Art.

Mandala Art.

Featured post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

It’s been some time now since I have been bitten by the Mandala bug. It was a design that quite intimidated me for the longest time! The intricate patterns, the minute detailing…all of it made me squint in awe at every Mandala I came across. It made me wonder if I would ever be able to make one myself.

So, to get over the fear, I decided to work on it, slowly and steadily. And, today, after making quite a few of these exquisite patterns, I feel so proud of my work. Of course, I still have miles to go before I can call myself an expert mandala artist, because I know the number of errors in my designs.

However, it is more to do with the effect it has on my mind than how it turns out that matters to me most. Drawing a mandala is the most satisfying, comforting, calming art activity I have ever indulged in. I enjoy pencil sketches, too, but the intricate patterns in a mandala have the power to improve your concentration.

The focus is all on the design, on how the pen works. And, when you focus a 100% on the activity, you are bound to forget everything that bothers you otherwise.

BENEFITS OF MAKING THE MANDALA

Making a mandala has quite a few benefits.

For someone who may be striving to concentrate, to overcome the edginess, the anxiety, making a mandala is sure to help you calm down.

It helps you learn to express yourself better. The various shapes and patterns you draw give you the freedom to think. There is no hard and fast rule as to using particular patterns for a mandala. You can use any shapes and symbols–geometric or ornamental– that come to your mind at the moment. This flexibility helps you learn to express yourself freely.

As a result of this freedom of expression, the tensed up mind relaxes, your anxiety and anguish comes under control–a fact I can totally vouch for.

Once your anxiety diminishes, you feel mentally at peace with the world and with yourself. You become oblivious to the disturbing thoughts that crowd your mind.

The mandala I am sharing today, took me more than an hour and a half to make. And, those were the most peaceful moments for me today!

To put it simply, mandala making is like meditating, when your mind is free of any thoughts and at peace.

HOW TO MAKE A MANDALA:

Making a mandala is really not as difficult as it appears. All you need is a paper, pencil, compass, scale and an eraser to draw a circular grid with the help of which you make the mandala patterns.

You can draw the patterns with pencil and then go over them with your ink pen/Zentangle pen/Pilot pen, or even a ball point pen.

METHOD:

On a paper, find the centre point and draw concentric circles of varied sizes.

Then, draw lines to help you space your patterns and guide you as you draw.

Once you have drawn these lines, begin to make the motifs.

There are various motifs, shapes and symbols you can make. They could be as simple as doodles, petals, leaves, flowers, triangles, semi-circles, circles, lines, or paisleys, heart and fish motifs…you just need to set your mind free to choose whichever shape it likes best!

Sharing some of the mandalas I tried.

So, don’t you think this is the most satisfying and relaxing activity? Of course, there are many other, too, like knitting, crocheting, sewing, painting….but, mandala making is what I prefer.

How about you? Would you like to give it a try?

Do share with me if and when you do make one. I would love to see your creation!

Love,

SHILPA…

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mandala

When anxiety has a stranglehold on you.

When anxiety has a stranglehold on you.

Top post on IndiBlogger, the biggest community of Indian Bloggers

It’s midnight. The world around you is fast asleep. But, you aren’t. You are tossing and turning in bed, anxiously awaiting sleep that seems to be playing a game of hide-n-seek with you. Eventually, after what seems like hours, your eyelids begin to droop. But, just when you feel a sense of calm come over you, a thought creeps into your mind, unannounced, and at once you are awake. The sleep that was at the threshold, has turned around and left.

The thought has now taken over your mind. A thought that is scary, terrifying and only increasing in its enormity by the moment. You begin to breathe heavily, taking in lungful of air, but suddenly feel suffocated and feel a horrid kind of fear taking shape in the pit of your stomach. You start panting and the restlessness increases to such an extent, you just wish to get out of the room, which feels like it’s caving in on you.

The fear now feels like a claw that surges upwards towards your chest, grips your heart and squeezes the life out of it and the world comes crashing down on you. You beg the thought to leave your mind; you pray for the anxiety and the fear to leave you in peace, but it takes more than prayers for it to happen. Finally, after what seems like an eternity, the thought leaves you. Exhausted, you fall asleep.

Have you experienced this, ever?

For me, anxiety and fear have been my constant companions for years. Being a caregiver for two patients of mental illness took its toll. Not a day went by when I wasn’t nervous, scared and anxious about something untoward happening and things going wrong. Try as I might, I couldn’t control Life and all that She brought with Her.

It is exhausting, this living with anxiety, day in day out. You put up a brave face for your family, for the world; you put on a mask of serenity so that others around you stay happy. But, after some time, it feels like a burden that keeps getting heavier. A burden that threatens to crush you under its weight.

After fighting this battle with anxiety all these years, I decided it was time to seek help. I couldn’t go on with it anymore. Moreover, with all that happened few months ago, the situation had only worsened. Sharing my fears with others is not something that comes naturally to me. Each one of us is fighting a battle, and to burden others with my worries is not something I can imagine doing, ever.

Close ones chid me for being so guarded, so “closed”, but the fear that, what if I share my worries precisely when they are going through rough times, themselves? stops me from doing so. And, so, I sought the help of my psychiatrist.

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health disorders with 1 out of every 14 people being likely affected.

I never knew I would be one of those 14 suffering from Anxiety Disorder until my psychiatrist broke the news to me last month. Was I glad I sought his help? I was, of course, but I wished I had sought this help long ago. I would have dealt with Life much better.

Lack of sleep, panic and fear, breathlessness, heart palpitations, dizziness are all symptoms of Anxiety Disorder. Your rational thinking gets affected and the anxiety that you suffer from, becomes overwhelming–an everyday affair.

Sharing problems with your close family and friends does help to an extent. But, the best course is to seek professional help. Anxiety can interfere with your everyday life, and can lead to depression, and also an increased risk of suicide.

Before things get completely out of control, approach a psychiatrist who will counsel you in the best possible way, prescribe drugs that will not only help you sleep well, but also help you learn to control the thought processes that lead to anxiety. It could take some time, but it’s all worth it. YOU are worth it!

How I manage my anxieties today:

The meds prescribed by my doctor help me enjoy an uninterrupted sleep and keep me alert to the thoughts that take form in my mind.

Blogging, writing, reading and art have helped me stay afloat. My work helps me keep my mind occupied. It’s when I am busy in these activities that my anxieties are at bay.

My pets take care of me at other times. Earlier, when Chikoo was around, he provided the buffer against the stress and the fear. And, now, I have Cookie. She may be a bird, but she is very well attuned to me and my moods. She is the first one to sense my discomfort and perches on my shoulder when she sees me upset. And, for these babies, I will be ever so grateful!

Since the past some months, I have developed a habit of trying to live in the moment; of not thinking about the future or the past, but only the present. Practising mindfulness helps, but It’s not easy, really. It’s an everyday habit one needs to work on, consistently.

Gratitude helps, too. Ending the day by thanking all that the Universe brings for me; for all the things that work out, as well as all that don’t and the lessons that I learn from them all, further helps calm the mind.

Living every day as if it were my last and doing my best in everything I do also helps me reduce the amount of anxiety that still lurks around the corner, threatening to takeover my mind.

Listening to music, yoga, walking and chatting with my nephew helps me keep my mind busy. Focusing on my breath while doing my asanas helps me learn to concentrate, as does drawing complicated mandalas.

It’s so necessary that we find the activity that not only keeps us busy and our mind occupied, but also one that enriches us, refreshes us and calms our nerves. Something that acts like the lighthouse that guides you to safety.

Anxiety disorders, if left untreated, can take a toll on our entire system, so it’s better to seek help. Sooner, the better. Our mental health is at stake, and if our mind isn’t healthy, how can we live a healthy, happy life?

Dear reader, if you, or a loved one, suffers from extreme anxiety, or has been suffering from anxiety since some time now, please, seek help. Remember, there is no health without mental health.

Love,

SHILPA…

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How your pets help improve your Life.

How your pets help improve your Life.

I came across this little piece of information that this is the Animal-Human Relationship Awareness Week. It was a revelation for me, indeed, that people celebrated an entire week in honour of the relationship we humans share with animals, and hence decided to do this post.

We humans have had animals not only as pets, but also as security guards and hunters since years. However, it is as pets that our animal friends have made us realise their importance in our lives. I have had pets since childhood. My very first pet was a rabbit that I picked up from a play ground. It actually belonged to a friend, who was in the process of disposing of the poor creature.

So, it was as a little girl that I learned to be responsible for another life. And, it has been this magical bond that I have had with all my pets that has taught me a precious lot about Life.

Sharing with you all today…

5 ways in which your pets improve your life:

Pets help you de-stress:

You return from work bone-tired, and as you open the door, this bundle of fur comes dashing across the room with happiness writ large on its face. How do you feel?

I would feel on top of the world! Here was someone who cared about me–really cared about me–and was delighted to meet me at the end of the day. How special it felt! Still does, when I return home and Cookie comes flying towards me and perches on my shoulder, chirping excitedly, as if asking me where I had been!

All the day’s fatigue vanishes in no time and you feel refreshed. You share your day’s troubles with this little creature who does not understand head or tail of what you speak, but at the end of this talk, you feel relieved. Having unburdened yourself thus, you now look forward to spending the evening peacefully, with a happy tail wagging by your side, or twirling around your legs as you prepare supper.

Pets teach you the meaning of true love:

My pet showers me with unconditional love!”

How many times you may have read/heard this line and wondered what’s the fuss all about, isn’t it? But, really, ask a pet owner and you will know what we mean. It was only after experiencing it with Chikoo that I learnt the true meaning of unconditional love. You may be sick/tired/angry/harried/irritated and as a result venting all your frustration on your pet, and all you will get in return is slobbery kisses and eyes dripping with love.

Your pet will never, ever, abandon you, especially when it sees you in this miserable condition. They stay by your side, offering you their quiet company, their shoulder to cry on. They do their best to heal your broken heart and give you the reassurance that, come what may, they will be by your side, always.

*Sniff sniff*

Pets help you socialise:

Being a shy person, communicating with people has always been an Achilles Heel. I would much rather keep my thoughts to myself than share them with others. But, with pets, you learn to open up and come out of your shell, mingle freely.

Taking them out for walks brings you in the company of people and you learn to loosen your tongue. I would always find ways to get out of a situation where I had to speak with strangers. I still do, but now, at least I am prepared to speak if the situation arises. All thanks to my pets, I am, at times, eager to socialise!

Pets help you stay fit and healthy:

If you have a dog, it is an accepted fact that if you don’t take him out for a walk, he will bring the house down. If you have pet rabbits, you may not have to take them out for a walk, but you will definitely be down on all fours coaxing them out from under the bed, or running around the house looking for them when they decide to play hide-and-seek.

And, if you have pet parrots, and you decide to let them out of their cages, you spend your time bending down to clean up their droppings or coaxing them to come out of their weird hiding places or keeping an eye on what they put into their mouths!

So, with all of these activities, you are definitely going to stay on your feet, away from the couch, working out and staying physically fit and mentally calm.

Well, it does take a lot of patience getting animals and birds to do your bidding, so, of course it teaches you how to stay calm in every situation!

And, finally,

Pets help fight loneliness:

With all the unconditional love they shower on us, it comes as no surprise that pets make for the best companions–better than humans! Your partner, children, friends will all be with you, but only for some time. But, your pets will be with you as long as they live. They place you ahead of themselves; you are their world, so in your moments of loneliness, they will be by your side, licking away those wounds that are seldom visible to others’ eyes.

I remember Chikoo would limp towards me, place his paw on my thigh and assure me that he would be with me, always. Those moments of utter loneliness saw me wade through only because of his presence. And, now, Cookie carries forward the tradition.

It helps having a pet by your side. They distract your attention from stuff that’s harmful to you–your stress, for example. The attention they seek from you helps you forget about your worries and focus on them.  Refreshed, when you get back to the issue that caused you the worry, you realise how futile the exercise was! Don’t you agree?

Do you have a pet? How has it changed your Life? Do share with me; I am a sucker for pet stories!

Love,

SHILPA…

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Pets teach you the true meaning of Love.
Ways in which pets help improve your life.