I ‘ve dealt with mild to moderate anxiety most of my adult life. I spent my twenties and early thirties trying to control it with therapy, force, and quiet embarrassment. Sleeping little, not asking for help, just trying to keep it together on the days when it was out of control. Outwardly, I mostly seemed very calm and pulled together. But inside—especially in the hours I should be asleep—I was a mess. And then I started talking about it, writing about it sharing my journey with others. This sharing led me to many, many, many similar souls, each dealing with their own journey around mental health. I felt found. Supported. Silly, actually for thinking this was NOT something others dealt with in their daily lives.
This process of sharing and learning helped me to build a community and find new tools and practices that help keep my anxiety manageable most days. For me, these small shifts have helped even my day-to-day energy + mood. Keeping the high’s manageable and giving me options when I feel a flurry coming my way.
What has worked for me:
Always a fan of a regular yoga practice, I now let my brain + mood influence HOW I practice day-to-day. I’ve found 1:1 yoga lessons to be super helpful if I’m dealing with some heavy emotions or health issues. A home practice when I need to go inward and get connected with my body. A class with a friend if I’m needing the support and energy of a group.
Again, I vary the type by what I need. Sometimes guided, using my favorite app, Headspace. Sometimes unguided, using a 6-part meditation I learned from my mindfulness coach. At other times, when I just can’t sit still and quiet, a visual meditation where I watch these amazing Louie Schwartzberg videos and just sit in silence appreciating the beauty in nature does the trick.
The newest addition to my kit, I take this morning and night. It just seems to even me out throughout the day, preventing the late afternoon and middle of the night spike I so frequently experience.
Daily Art Journal and Journaling
Spending a few minutes daily letting my brain wander while my hands are busy playing with color, writing a few words of gratitude, or just doodling seems to reduce my stress and anxiety around work. As a professional creative, I can get caught up in the pressure of not knowing what to write, make, build—but having a safe space to play most days releases my tight grip on the fear and uncertainty that comes from a creative life. It reminds me of WHY I chose a creative path and connects me to the joy and purpose that comes with it.
Connecting to the Breath
A simple, available anywhere trick that my acupuncturist taught me, I count down from 25 to 1 with deep, belly breaths letting my diaphragm relax and expand to just remind me to breathe. Simple, but so easy to forget in a moment of stress.
Cutting out Caffeine and Sugar
I know, ugh. But for me, this shift has made a HUGE difference in my ability to manage the spikes in my anxiety. Caffeinated and sugared, the highs and lows of daily life for me are SO MUCH BIGGER and difficult to manage. Removing these two things helped to stabilize my cortisol levels, enabling me to respond to stress and daily life with a more balanced tone.
Tell me, dear ones, what works for you to keep the daily stress and chaos of life manageable?
Jill Elliott is a creative consultant, strategist, and thinker constantly seeking inspiration and balance. As a writer, artist, and founder of The Color Kind she seeks to inspire others to live creatively every day. She can often be found making art and messes alongside her 7-year-old daughter and Goldendoodle puppy.