Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world
It affects 1 in every 13 people – that is a staggering 7.3%, globally. And although it is a treatable illness, many, many people go on through life without seeking any help due to the stigma attached to being diagnosed with a mental illness. Sadly, many people choose to bear the difficulties in silence.
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Now, what if I told you that there is something that you can do that to help your anxiety levels under control? ONE. SIMPLE. THING.
You see, there were many times when my anxiety levels got so bad, that I simply could not function.
I would miss work and stay at home, holed up in my bedroom with the curtains shut. I used to work as a corporate Recruitment Consultant. It was a high stress role – highly visible to clients and full engagement was required at all times. It was a sales role, so you couldn’t have bad days.
More importantly – I would miss out on my parenting responsibilities and tell the children that I was unwell. They would come home to a quiet house, and aim to keep it quiet… because their mama had a migraine. And while I did (and still do) get migraines – the quiet I needed was because I could not bear to have my silence ruffled. Any kind of sound would make my heart beat fast – ready to jump out of my chest. I would forget to breathe. Do you get that too? Have you experienced that?
Sometimes, I could not function for days. I felt like crawling into a dark hole and never coming out. Some days… I just wanted it to end.
Through the years, I have learned that I am not alone. WE ARE NOT ALONE.
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On days that it was really bad, I would find myself sitting in my family doctor’s office, begging for her to do something.
I was asking her to help me – to make it all go away. No more pills. I wanted her to wave a magic wand, get anxiety levels under control, and make me “normal”.
Now, I love our family doctor. She’s amazing. She really is…. but she doesn’t have a magic wand.
She would ask about what was going on in my life – you know… about the events that have occurred prior to me finally coming to her.
“Was there a trigger?” she would ask.
And every time I relayed the days prior, I felt ashamed that these “events” could so easily get me into a nasty spin. Because let me tell you — there were no real, specific events that triggered it. Nothing.
I felt ashamed because I was certain that there were other people who were going through far more difficult – perhaps worse things – than my events.
Sleeping Disorder vs. Anxiety Disorder
Looking back – on each and every occasion that I went to see my doctor because of my anxieties; there was always one question that she would ask: Are you getting enough sleep?
My answer was always yes…. because I thought it was getting enough. I would sleep at midnight (after doing having my Me time) and wake up at 6.30am. That’s pretty normal isn’t it?
Apparently – there is no normal. Some people can take it… and some people just can’t. It’s in our biological make up. That’s it. There is no other amazing truth to it.
People who suffer from anxiety tend to suffer sleepless nights. And people who don’t get a good night’s sleep, can well experience anxiety.
You see, it’s like the chicken and the egg. Which came first? It’s a vicious cycle. Anxiety causes sleeping problems — BUT! research also suggests that sleep deprivation can cause an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety in Mothers
12 years ago, I became a mother.
Two and half years after that, I became a mother of two.
I found myself overwhelmed with fierce love, sleepless exhaustion, and worry for the future. At the time, it all seemed so normal – as if it was an expectation of mothers to feel these.
The sleepless nights were ridiculously hard. It wasn’t until my youngest child turned 3 years old, that I could confidently say that I had a full night’s sleep. By this time, I had not had uninterrupted sleep for 5 years. I attributed this to my role of being a mother.
Little did I know – this is when it all began for me.
A Simple Solution To Getting your anxiety levels under control
As mothers, we are so good at looking after other people…. but so poor in looking after our own selves. So here’s a simple exercise for you.
I want you to ask yourself:
- Are you truly getting enough sleep?
- Do you get at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night?
- Do you get at least 30 minutes to yourself every day, without having to stay up later than everyone else to get it?
If you answered NO to at least 2 of these questions, you need to stop, change your routine, and start putting yourself on your priority list.
Now here’s what you need to do
Take away 2-hours off of your day, and ADD those 2 hours to either side of your sleep.
If you go to bed at 11.00pm and wake up at 6.00am – you need to start going to bed at 10.00pm and wake up at 7.00am.
If you go to bed at 12.00am and wake up at 7.00am – you need to start going to be at 11.00pm and start waking up at 8.00am.
That’s it, mama! That. IS. IT! And because it’s that simple – you really need to make it work.
Try this for 2 weeks, and you will be on your way to getting your anxiety levels under control. You will feel the difference. And you know what else? You will see the changes it will bring not just to you; but also to your family and relationships.
So you see, while my doctor doesn’t have a magic wand – I can definitely say she knows her stuff!
Before I started paying attention to this a year ago, I would suffer from anxiety attacks at least once a week. These days, I can count them on one hand.
Do you remember how you used to tell your little tots that they needed to sleep well so that they could grow strong and healthy? And do you now tell your tweens and teens that just because they are older, it doesn’t mean they don’t need to go to bed early?
It’s exactly the same for you and me, mama. We need our sleep too. Now, go to bed xoxo
Disclaimer: Please know that I am not now, nor have I ever been a doctor – or a psychiatrist, psychologist, or counsellor. I once had a first-aid certificate, but that expired 10 years ago!! Everyone is different; and each of our triggers and causes of anxiety are special. What may work for me, may not necessarily work for others. The suggestions here are meant to help ease – not cure – our anxieties. Your doctor still knows best. xoxo