4 ways you can support a friend who suffers from anxiety
most of us are the type of people who will do anything to help a friend [or family member] when they need us. whether they need a small favor, need support while going through a rough patch, or just need someone to vent to, typically we’ll do just about whatever we can to help.
but what happens when a friend comes to us with something we can’t relate to? something we don’t have any experience dealing with? or even worse… something that we simply don’t understand? it sucks, right? feeling so helpless? wanting to be able to offer advice, but not knowing how to do it?
anxiety is one of those things that if you don’t struggle with yourself, it can be very difficult to relate to… and ultimately support… a friend who does. you may worry about saying the “right” or “wrong” thing… maybe you’re not sure if you should try to talk it through or offer them a distraction… or maybe you just don’t get what it is that’s supposedly getting to them.
if you have a friend or family member struggling with anxiety, and you’re not sure how you can help them, here are 4 ways you can be supportive, regardless of if you can relate or not:
1. empathize with them. as much as you can, really try to empathize, even if their specific worry seems “silly” or ridiculous to you. phrases like, “i totally get why you’re feeling anxious” or “it must be hard to worry about blank so much” can really go a long way, and can show your friend that even though you might not be able to directly relate to what they’re going through, you can still appreciate where they’re coming from. the last thing you want to do is make them think that their feelings aren’t valid.
2. don’t try to minimize what they’re experiencing. on some level, most people who struggle with anxiety know that their anxiety isn’t 100% rational. that’s kinda the point. even if your intentions are good, trying to tell someone that “things aren’t as bad as they think” can make them feel even worse.
3. help them face their fears. many people who struggle with anxiety use avoidance as a coping mechanism [i am a living, breathing example of this kind of anxious]. they’ll avoid places, people, and certain situations in an effort to stop being anxious about that specific thing… it’s the whole “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. but in reality, this actually only helps to maintain & reinforce the anxiety that they feel when presented with those circumstances. and while it may seem counterintuitive, encouraging them to their fears & expose themselves to the situations that are making them anxious can actually help them overcome their anxiety.
4. listen. it’s simple, but it’s honestly the best thing that you can do, especially if this whole anxiety thing is foreign to you. ask questions… what is your friend worried about? what does anxiety feel like to them? what kind of support do they need? when they answer… listen. not only to what they’re saying, but to what they might not be saying, as well [kinda like reading between the lines]. sometimes just having a friend lend an ear, whether they can offer true “help” or not, is the best medicine for someone who has found themselves lost in a sea of anxiety.
ultimately, what it comes down to, is just being there. anxiety can strike at any time, in any setting, under any circumstances. and speaking from experience, just knowing that i have a few people in my life who will simply be there for me when i find myself being swept away by tornado of anxiety is the most comforting thing i can think of. [i clearly really like the nature metaphors this week, huh?]
someone once said… “i get by with a little help from my friends”… and i really think they were onto something… and on that note, here are just a few of the people who make my life that much sweeter.
p.s. i’m now working one-on-one with clients to help them overcome their anxiety & pursue a life of balance in the same ways that i have. if you experience anxiety… sign up for my newsletter for more details to come… & to make sure you never miss a post!
self-care for anxiety: take a bath
when it comes to managing your anxiety, you need to have things in your arsenal that you just know will help take the edge off. whether that’s going for a long walk in the evening, starting what you know will be a crazy day off with a yoga class, or just calling a friend to vent, we all have different things that make us feel better when life feels like it’s spiraling out of our control.
one of my favorite ways to relax & unwind after a long day… to re-center & take a breather… is to take a nice long bath. it’s pretty old-school… maybe it even reminds you of childhood… but there’s a reason these things exist… because they’re f*cking awesome & do wonders for the body & the mind.
there was actually a study done back in 2002 which found that taking a bath, typically at the end of the day, helped to improve the mood of the participants significantly. this is due to several factors, including warmth, isolation, & body positioning [apparently we associate being horizontal with relaxation & vulnerability]… sounds like something that could definitely help with anxiety, amiright?!
but, not all baths are created equal. what do you need for the most relaxing, soothing, anxiety-clearing bath ever? look no further!
- 2 cups epsom salt [helps relax the muscles & relieve tension, i love Dr. Teal’s]
- 10-15 drops of lavender essential oil [lavender is very calming, but rose & frankincense are also great options]
- bubble bath [… because duh. again, i love Dr. Teal’s]
- candles [i love putting a few tea candles on the edges of the bathtub]
- optional: 1 c. apple cider vinegar [helps to balance the pH of the skin, baking soda also works]
also found these little packets of bath salts from wild honey botanicals that i’m basically obsessed with… they definitely add a nice touch!
alright, so basically, all you gotta do is this: draw a bath that’s a comfortable temperature for… you don’t want it to be too hot or too cold, but you should be able to relax when you’re in there. then. add the epsom salt, lavender oil, & bubble bath [and the apple cider vinegar & bath salts if you’re using them], light up the candles, turn off the lights, turn on some relaxing music, & hop in!
if you really wanna take this to the next level, close your eyes & meditate while you’re in there. a good book [or a glass of red wine] never hurt either. regardless of how you choose to spend your time, i recommend staying in for 20-40 minutes to really reap the benefits.
p.s. i’m now working one-on-one with clients to help them overcome their anxiety & pursue a life of balance in the same ways that i have. if you experience anxiety… sign up for my newsletter for more details to come… & to make sure you never miss a post!
3 simple ways to stop holiday anxiety in its tracks
well, guys, we’ve officially made it to the end of November. crazy, right? i can’t believe that Thanksgiving is in 2 days… which means that Christmas is just around corner… & then before you know it, it’s going to be 2018. twenty. eighteen. just let that sink in for a minute.
a lot people experience anxiety around this time of year, & who can really blame them? there are so many parties to attend, many of us are traveling to be with our families or are hosting our families ourselves… & we all know what family time can do to us, amiright? there’s also the whole food aspect that comes into play… being around that much food can be difficult if you have issues with food & body image… it’s all kinda scary stuff, right?
if you experience anxiety around the holidays… regardless of what triggers it… & would maybe like to change that this year, here are 3 ways you can stop holiday anxiety in its tracks, & actually enjoy the season just a little bit more this year.
1. slow down. food anxiety tends to show up a lot during the holidays. to say that the latter part of the year is all about indulgence is an understatement. i mean think about it… Thanksgiving is a holiday that revolves around eating. and 9 times out of 10 the food being served at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner is not good for you. but, i’m a big believer in balance, & allowing yourself to indulge here & there without feeling guilty… as long as you’re mindful about it.
and the easiest way to do that is to slow. the f*ck. down. take small bites. actually chew your food. put down your fork when you’re talking in between bites. breathe. there is absolutely no need to rush. oh, & just stop when you’re full. you shouldn’t eat until you feel sick… ever. you don’t need to leave the dinner table hating yourself for what you just ate. listen to your body in the moment… you’ll thank yourself later, i promise.
2. take a lap. one of my favorite ways to chill the f*ck out when i’m feeling a little antsy is to step outside & go for a walk. i pop my headphones in, put on some tunes, & just start walking. sometimes i walk to nowhere. sometimes i wander for 15 minutes… other times i wander for an hour. sometimes i’ll grab a coffee or a smoothie along the way. there’s just something about being outside, looking up at the sky, & feeling the fresh air on your face that has serious healing powers, regardless of where you are.
3. practice gratitude. it’s easy to forget that the reason these holidays exist in the first place is to celebrate life. to celebrate everything we have. to celebrate love. we can all get caught up in the details, which can send us into a downward spiral of panic, but when we find ourselves having one of these moments… whether it happens while you’re trying to shop in the middle of a very crowded store, or while you’re having a conversation with your grandma about why you still don’t have a boyfriend, or when you find yourself stranded at the airport after 14 hours of flight delays, the best thing you can do to pull yourself together immediately is recognize that your anxiety is taking over, take a deep breath, & find something to be grateful for… even if it’s something simple. when we take the time to express gratitude, it helps to put whatever is making us anxious into perspective & ground us just a little more in the moment.
BONUS TIP: avoid political conversations by setting the precedent that you’re not going to talk about politics with your family… before you arrive at Thanksgiving dinner. listen, & take it from me… i know from experience that it is just not worth it to get into political debates with your family. you think they’re wrong, they think you’re wrong, you’re not going to change your mind, & they’re not going to change theirs. those are the facts. is it upsetting? yes. is it worth getting into an argument about over Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner? absolutely not. but, even if we try our hardest to avoid the conversation, there is often still that onnneeee aunt/uncle/brother/sister/parent that just looovvvvveeesssssss to stir the pot. so, this year, ask your family [over the phone or text, anything works here] to please leave their opinions at the door. tell them that you want to spend the holidays enjoying each other’s company rather than wanting to punch each other in the face. leave the politics for the “professionals”.
do you have any go-to strategies for dealing with holiday-induced anxiety & making it into the new year with your sanity? leave them in the comments below!
and don’t forget: i’m now working one-on-one with clients to help them overcome their anxiety & pursue a life of balance in the same ways that i have. if you experience anxiety… or if anything in this post spoke to you on any level… sign up for my newsletter for more details to come… & to make sure you never miss a post!
happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
from anxious to balanced: my anxiety story
if you’ve been a bananas & bellinis reader for some time now, you know that i typically post about a variety of topics all within the health & wellness world. everything from eating healthy to yoga to woo-woo sh*t to clean beauty… i’m into it. you probably have also picked up on the fact that i’m very much aligned to the finer things in life… traveling, cheese, netflix binges, late nights out on the town with friends…. & maybe a cocktail or two [or five] here and there. and even though some people might say you can’t have it both ways, i’m not ashamed to admit any of this. at all. i strive to live a balanced life in every aspect, & with that comes the ability to be a little woo-woo & a little boujee… all at the same time.
but, balance hasn’t always been present in my life. in fact, for as long as i can remember, my life was the opposite of balanced. and it wasn’t until recently that i came to the realization that the majority of my “issues” were simply side effects of my struggle with anxiety.
pretty much my entire life i’ve been worried. constantly. worried about what? pretty much everything. i was also a perfectionist… i put pressure on myself to be “perfect” at everything i did, no exceptions. i was a hypochondriac. i spent more time wondering about “what if’s” than i did thinking about what was actually happening in my life.
and naturally, with high levels of anxiety came unhealthy coping mechanisms. i was a nail biter. i remember having a stage where i would sit in class & pull my eyelashes out… like… excuse me, WHAT?! it would take me hours to fall asleep every night… freshman year of college, falling asleep was no problem, but staying asleep became impossible almost immediately. on top of alllllllllllll of this, my stomach was always upset. you know that nervous feeling you get sometimes, maybe before a date or a big presentation at work? i had that constantly. i’ve also experienced my fair share of full blown panic attacks… the kind where i’d start crying & wouldn’t be able to catch my breath. sounds fun, huh?
freshman year of college is when sh*t started to get really interesting, though. about 3 weeks in, i got sick. like… really, really sick. i ended up in the hospital & it took a misdiagnosis & several doctors to figure out what was wrong with me. it turns out that i had pancreatitis, which is an inflammation of the pancreas… i won’t get into the details, but holy sh*t did it f*cking suck. i was in the most physical pain i have ever experienced in my life. i spent about a week in the hospital hooked up to an IV that pumped painkillers [hellooooo morphine], anti-nausea medicine, fluids & calories into my system… i wasn’t able to eat or drink anything for days, & i ended up losing about 15 pounds… once i was released, i still had to be on bedrest for another week or so.
while i was in the hospital, we learned that i fell into the 10% of pancreatitis cases that have “no known cause” & my mom speculated that it was brought on by the stress/anxiety of starting college. my doctor shot that idea down pretty quickly & just simply said that was impossible, but years later i would learn that stress & anxiety do, in fact, manifest in the gut, & it’s pretty likely that i literally “worried myself sick” that year.
somewhere in the middle of all of this, i had become particularly interested in health & wellness. specifically, i got really into clean eating after reading the book skinny bitch. i became vegan, started paying attention to the ingredients in the foods i was eating, taking supplements, & going to the gym. totally harmless, right?
well… sort of. my interest in health & wellness eventually became an obsession. i had an extremely regimented “diet” that consisted of pretty much only fruits & veggies… until i would get drunk & demolish an entire pizza by myself. i became obsessed with the number on the scale & definitely toed the line between being in really great shape & being too skinny. i was obsessed with my appearance & being the “skinniest” & the “prettiest” girl in the room. i compared myself to everyone. i spent hours at the gym every week even though i hated being there. i still wasn’t sleeping. i was a f*cking mess.
this went on & on & on for far too long… i started going to counseling during my junior year of college, & figured some of my sh*t out… but even after college i still experienced anxiety on a daily basis. i was uncomfortable in my body… i had low self-esteem… i hated what i saw when i looked in the mirror… i talked sh*t about myself out loud & in my head constantly… but luckily, in the midst of all of this, my interest in health & wellness continued to grow & evolve in a way that was positive.
i found yoga which has done more for me than i can even put into words. instead of being obsessed with my weight & appearance [for the most part] i became obsessed with taking a holistic, balanced approach to life… & over the last few years, i’ve been able to shift my entire perspective & live my life how i want to live it… not how my anxiety tells me i should be living it.
and wow does it feel good.
and while i can’t pinpoint just one thing that did the trick, there are many “little” things that have all come together perfectly [yet slowly] for my lifestyle. i’ve tried lots of different approaches, but what i’ve found has worked for me are things like yoga, meditation, spending time outdoors, following a morning routine, eating well but still allowing myself to enjoy my favorite “guilty” pleasures, just to name a few. and while it’s typically pretty consistent, some things work better in different situations than others… it all just depends on where my anxiety is coming from & what my mind, body, & soul are craving at the time.
do i still have panic attacks? from time to time, yes. do i still catch myself pacing back & forth while waiting for my Uber? absolutely. do i struggle to get a full night’s sleep? most days, yes. do i spend time replaying things i said or did months ago that might have come across the wrong way in my head? you better believe it. do i worry about things that haven’t happened or might never happen? all the effing time.
but, over the years, i’ve learned to manage my anxiety so that its impact on my day-to-day life isn’t so significant. some days are certainly easier than others, & certain situations can still send me into a panic… but overall, i feel better now than i have in my entire life, & have experienced the biggest shift of all in the last 2 years. something just clicked. the pieces all came together & i work every. single. day to keep it that way. most of the time, i can acknowledge that my anxiety is present, make a joke about it, laugh it off, & move. the f*ck. on.
and bananas & bellinis is where my passion for health & wellness, my pursuit of anxiety-free living, & my obsession with living a life that’s healthy, fun, authentic, spiritual, & balanced all come together. i love sharing what i’ve learned with others in the hopes that they, too, can come to find balance in their lives. what’s the point of having figure all this sh*t out if i don’t share it with others, right?
so, you can expect to find a little bit of everything here. it’s a little cheeky & a little woo-woo, & always real AF. you’ll find everything from anxiety hacks to yoga & meditation tips to natural, clean beauty advice & maybe even a travel post or clean cocktail recipe here & there.
and i’m very excited to announce that i’m now working one-on-one with clients to help them overcome their anxiety & pursue a life of balance in the same ways that i have. if you experience anxiety… or if anything in this post spoke to you on any level… sign up for my newsletter for more details to come… & to make sure you never miss a post!
photo courtesy of Jessica Husted Photography
3 simple ways to manage stress + anxiety
sorry that today’s post is going up a little late… but there’s a reason, i promise! … which i will explain: one thing i haven’t talked about too much here on the blog is my ongoing battle with stress and anxiety. it’s not exactly the easiest thing to talk about, but i’ve sort of felt a “call” to write about it lately. i think that there’s a certain level of therapy involved in being vulnerable, and i just wanted to make sure i was doing it right [stress about being perfect, anyone?]… so, here we go.
ever since i was little, i can remember experiencing extreme bouts of stress and anxiety, which tended to manifest in the form of stomach aches, constant nausea, heartburn [i literally never left home without a pack of rolaids], and nights lying awake in bed for hours before being able to fall asleep because my mind wouldn’t stop racing.
throughout my life, i’ve definitely been able to recognize that i experience high levels of stress and anxiety… but to a certain extent, assumed it was normal. everyone seems to be “stressed” these days, right? why should i be any different? i even feel like sometimes we glorify being “stressed” and look down upon the people who aren’t, accusing them of being “lazy” and “unmotivated”.
can stress be a good thing? sometimes. but if you’re experiencing stress that:
- disturbs your sleeping patterns
- impacts your appetite [in either direction]
- makes you feel short of breath, nauseous or lightheaded
- causes you to break down, shut down or lash out
… then it isn’t the good kind of stress.
to this day, i still experience high levels of stress and anxiety that cause all of the above. and it effing sucks. sometimes it’s worse than others. sometimes i’m stressed about work… sometimes about my appearance… lately i’ve been stressed about the state of the world we live in and where society is headed… you name it, i’ve probably stressed about it excessively at one point or another.
the difference now is that i don’t just accept it as “normal” and struggle to live with it… i manage it.
over the past six months [after having a breakdown mid-november], i’ve found what works best for me when it comes to managing stress, and have a few different things i turn to when i start feeling even just a little bit anxious.
these 3 things help me to get centered and continue moving forward with a sense of calm [or, let’s be honest, at least a lower level of stress]:
1. get moving. it’s a no brainer that exercise is directly linked to our state of mind. think about it… how many times have you left yoga or finished a sweat session feeling worse than you did before? literally never. even though the thought of doing any sort of physical activity can be the last thing we want to do when we’re stressed, we need to suck it up and just do it [nike was seriously onto something here]. not only will all of those endorphins make you feel like you’re on cloud nine, going for a long run or hitting the yoga mat, even just taking a 10-minute walk, gives you a chance to remove yourself from whatever it is that’s stressing you out and just focus on the present moment.
2. meditate. over the past 3-4 months, my meditation practice has become consistent, and it plays a huge role in helping me to manage stress. every morning, i wake up 20 minutes early and do a guided meditation [i have a little “meditation corner” set up in my room] to set the tone for the rest of the day. i’m one of those people whose brain never. shuts. off. and meditating forces me to be still, acknowledge the thoughts i’m having, and then immediately let them go. it allows you to remove yourself from the outside world and turn inward, where the answers to just about all of our problems lie. if you’re new to the whole meditation thing, start small! even 5 minutes each day is enough to rewire your brain.
[not sure where to start? boho beautiful has some really great guided meditations on youtube, but this one specifically is good for cultivating a sense of peace and tranquility… and it only takes 10 minutes!]
3. listen to your favorite music. i’m a music lover. i grew up in a household that always have music playing, and my parents instilled their love of music on me from a very young age. i love finding new music just as much as i love listening to artists i’ve been obsessed with for years, and dabbling in new genres has expanded my musical preferences quite a bit. across the board, one thing’s for sure: music has healing powers. feeling stressed? play some jack johnson. feeling tired? put on the chainsmokers. feeling sad? hello, t. swift! need to make yourself feel like a badass? “big rings” by drake can help. allow yourself to really feel the music and let it take you away for a minute. keep it playing in the background while you go about your day [if you can] or plug into your headphones when you’re trying to get through your least favorite activity at work. there’s a reason that music is such a huge part of every culture… it’s universal, and as bob marley said, “when it hits you, you feel no pain.”
of course, there are many other ways to manage stress and anxiety, and i definitely encourage you to explore and find out what works best for you. these 3 things are simple and seem to help me the most, but i also keep journaling, taking a relaxing bath, and simply breathing up my sleeve for those really stressful times when i feel like i need to battle it from all angles.
what are your go-to methods for stress management? share in the comments below, or email me at email@example.com!
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