I haven’t opened my eyes yet, but I’m awake. It’s dark. I’m lying on my stomach, my breath slow. Inhale…two three four… exhale… two three four, I counted, as I purposefully tried to slow the heart that was beating out of my chest. I felt like my body is pulsating with every beat. I open my eyes and they adjust to focus in the black, quiet room. I try to find the cold part of the sheets as I roll over in the fetal position and sweep my legs in. Trying to ignore my heartbeat, I look at the red digital clock. 2:27a.m., ugh, when will this end? When will I sleep through the night again? I say to myself as I try to fall back asleep, my mind rampant with thoughts on money, bills, letting people down and anything bad that has happened in the last 20 years in my life. I grab my AppleTv remote and click the top of the remote that turns the tv on. I click the top again, and Netflix immediately plays The Office, (my go to), anything that will get my mind off of whatever it’s on. The tv is beaming and fills my black room with a light so bright, it looks daytime. I close my eyes, I slowly fall back to sleep, soothed by the horrible, yet comforting melodica instrument of the theme song. (Yeah, I looked it up).
Anxiety. It’s crippling. It’s in all of us, some just worse than others. It’s a vicious, nonstop cycle. It wakes me up each night with a jolt. It invades my thoughts while driving, while working, while mowing the grass. It’s a constant, persistent, horrific nightmare and I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone. I’m tired, but unable to sleep. I notice it the most when I pay bills, start to freak out about money, or conversational thoughts I said that I think about later—maybe coming off harsh when I didn’t mean it to. It’s like being choked out, like something is around my neck and I can’t escape it and although with each passing day, I find times where I feel that it loosens it’s grip, it comes back every single morning around 2:00a.
Did you know that after a quick lookup here on my World Wide Web, anxiety affects 40 million adults aged 18 and up? 40 million. Forty. million. That’s insane, right? There are all these people that feel the exact same way I do. They mull over the thought of bills, they think about sick loved ones, they wonder if they’ll ever stop living paycheck to paycheck, or wonder how they’ll provide for a new baby on the way, it’s endless. It’s relentless. There are not many more adjectives I can use to describe it. But! I have taken some steps to try and mitigate my anxiety and here are some things that have helped me feel a little back to normal. It’s not something I’ve felt instant relief from, but honestly, it’s improved my sleeping habits and I wake up less in the middle of the night.
To start, I wrote down all my bills (look for my Budget piece later on). What is needed to be paid right now, what has a few days of grace before I can pay it. Then, I stopped eating really late. I work from home and I forget to eat because I get busy and then when I quit, I’m ravenous, so I eat late and everything in sight. I also take a shower or bath before I go to bed. Hot water makes me feel more relaxed. It opens up my pores and it makes me feel toasty. I made my house colder—this is one of the best things I’ve done. I sleep so much better when I’m underneath blankets and curled up. Lastly, and probably the best advice I can give and I’m happy to say that it improved my sleep TEN FOLD. Are you ready? Are you sure!? Okay, I put my phone on my nightstand and I flip it over. I used to keep my phone on my bed to charge, every night. In the middle of the night, I would roll over and see it light up so I’d text back, check social media and then I’d be awake for awhile. Not anymore! I won’t even touch my phone until morning. It’s a new rule I’ve had for the past two weeks and I can’t even tell you how great I’ve been sleeping not having that thing near my face. Trust me and try this, you won’t be disappointed. Those texts and notifications will still be there in the morning after you’ve already had a good night’s rest.
Lastly, remember that everyone in this world is fighting something. You’re not alone and if you need to talk about a problem or anxiety you have, I guarantee you, any one of your friends would volunteer to be a sounding board. Life is tough enough and something we all have to figure out along the way, so if you have anxiety, try some of these tips! I know I’ve written about it before, and as I write to you now, my nails are completely bitten off, my split ends have been picked multiple times today, but I know that wherever I am, I have a friend that is a text away and there’s only a few hours between me and that amazing queen bed I have in my room.