Is your anxiety running high AF today, darlings? Does your heart feel like it’s positively exploding out of the deep and cavernous cave that is your fragile little chest? Did you check your phone exactly 36 times this morning, and each time your entire body seeped in sweat and panic because you’re convinced you’ve finally received that long-awaited text from your boss that says: “YOU ARE FIRED BECAUSE YOU ARE A FRAUD AND WE ALL KNOW YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE DOING!”
Do you feel inexplicably nauseous? Does the thought of consuming food make your stomach lurch, yet you can’t stop compulsively eating because eating gives you something to do and without anything to do you’ll catapult into a full-blast panic attack that will surely result in a traumatizing hospital visit?
Well, if this describes how you’re feeling today, let me kindly assure you that you’re in a fantastic company! I also am genetically hardwired to feel anxious and amped and freaked and tweaked all the time damn time. So firstly, take a deep breath. You’re not alone in this hell. Isn’t that sort of comforting?
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And while it can feel so horrendously suffocating to live in this airtight, dark, cupboard of a space, I do think those of us wracked with endless anxiety are gifted creatures. We’re so damn high strung because we’re so gorgeously in love with life that we’re terrified of losing all that we cherish! But hey, despite the fact that we’re super-evolved geniuses, it still sucks to be followed around by that nasty bitch anxiety all the freaking time.
Which is why your lesbian big sister is here to give you some tips and tricks to help you beat that motherf*cker into the ground and have you plug into the glorious moment! Because the glorious moment is all we truly have, and I don’t want you to miss it’s beauty, baby!
1. Cardio, Bitch
Disclaimer: Before you think I’m going to go all GOOP on you, remember this. No one detests working out more than I do. I used to roll my eyes and laugh at the type A freakazoids who got up every morning and did SoulCycle (gag). But then I got a job all the way in the heart of Chelsea when I lived all the way on 92nd street on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, which is a whopping five miles away. I was far too anxious at the time to take the subway (I had just quit Xanax, so I was even more of an unhinged train wreck than usual) and far too broke to take a cab. I had no choice but to trudge five miles through the snow to work by (platform adorned) foot every single day.
And guess what?
It was the BEST thing that ever happened to me and my epic anxiety disorder. I would create fabulous playlists made up of all of my favorite sad-girl singer babes and march through the city to the sweet, dark music. It sent me into another universe. It snapped my heart free from the chains of panic and let it soar way up into the sky with the goddamn birds. I would arrive at work, rosy-cheeked, sweaty, energized and ready to dive into the day like a fearless warrior princess.
Here’s the tea: When you move your body quickly (as in cardio) your body releases endorphins, adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. All of which are chemicals and hormones that are directly responsible for increasing your well-being and giving you a natural sweep of euphoria. In fact, most people who suffer from anxiety and depression have low levels of these feel-good chemicals to begin with, which why we need to do whatever we can possibly do to increase them.
Most antidepressants increase serotonin and dopamine as well, so if you’re popping back the pretty little Prozac pills like moi, AND you get your cardio on in the morning… the results are… well, awesome, truthfully.
“Meditate, don’t self-medicate.” That is my new mantra. I know it feels so much less daunting to start your morning out with a cold, soothing glass of Sauvignon Blanc over having to do something hard and exhausting, like closing your eyes and centering yourself.
However, Sauvignon Blanc, Xanax, Adderall, Sex With Your Ex, Shopping For Shoes You Can’t Afford—whatever your Toxic Poison Of Choice is—all come with a bitter, nasty, snarling rebound effect. When the temporary false happy rush they provide wears off, you’re left feeling twice as anxious (not to mention wildly depressed). And when your anxiety is on that kind of withdrawal-esque overdrive, you have no choice but to keep medicating the insufferable darkness away, which can often lead to addiction, which all too often requires a stint in rehab to overcome! And you don’t need that shit right now, OK? Trust me.
Take the bull by the horns and shout: “NO, I WILL NOT CHASE MY ADDERALL WITH WHISKEY, I will instead get back in bed for fifteen minutes and listen to a guided meditation.” It works wonders!
This particular meditation is my favorite. Maria Menounos listens to it twice a day, and she’s simply crushing it at life, isn’t she?
3. Gratitude list
Do you know that research, scientific research supports the notion that the grateful brain actually produces more dopamine than the ungrateful brain? Didn’t I say earlier that us anxious cats need to cultivate as much dopamine as we possibly can since dopamine is proven to make us feel better?
“Furthermore, feelings of gratitude directly activated brain regions associated with the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine feels good to get, which is why it’s generally considered the ‘reward’ neurotransmitter,” says neurological expert Alex Korb, Ph.D.
So let’s get proactive, babe. I challenge you to write a list of 10 things you’re grateful for everyday! Repeat that list out loud in the shower (to really drive the point home!). Do this for thirty days. You’re going to see results, I mean it’s backed by research. Science aside, gratitude puts shit into perspective. It makes you realize not everything in your world is DOOM and GLOOM—but that you actually have some pretty stellar things in your life, and you’re subsequently one of the lucky ones.
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I stopped being ashamed about my mental illness, recently. One morning I woke up. I mean, like, I literally woke upand snapped out of the stupid shame slumber I had been wasting away in. It dissipated so quickly, it felt spiritual. As the sun cut through my blind-less bedroom window, one thought kept screaming inside of my head so loudly I felt it through vibrate through my body: I’ll never stop talking about my mental illness. I’ll never stop talking about my mental illness. I’ll never stop talking about my mental illness.I won’t shut up about the darkest, messiest, sexiest, perviest, most mentally ill and deranged parts of my life, ever. Because this notion that we have to present themselves as heroes to the outer world is fucking bullshit. So tell me everything. I’m not interested in the shiny fluff parts, I want you, raw. You’re the most beautiful when you are raw. 🖤
4. Reframe the way you approach the day!
About five years ago, I was in the throes of a massive panic attack over all the stressful things I had to accomplish on that particular day when my mentor gave me a golden nugget of advice I will oh-so-kindly bestow upon you:
Imagine that your day is one giant improv exercise. And no matter what roadblocks come flying your way you will find creative ways to navigate your way through them. Say you have to publicly speak and the microphone doesn’t work? Rather than panic, treat it like an improv exercise! OK, so this obstacle is here… what am I going to do? I‘m going to PROJECT my voice and make a joke to the audience as my way of overcoming this silly obstacle!
It’s kind of fun when you get into the groove of it because it stops you from taking it all so seriously and lets you play a little! And playfulness is so damn important. For our beautiful creativity, our authentic joy and our vital ability to hook into the present moment are all rooted in playing.
5. Treat yourself
Listen to me. I want you to give your anxiety a name. My anxiety’s name is Lulu. She’s a little kid who is crazy-hyper and suffers from extreme bouts of low blood sugar and needs to be gently calmed down several times throughout the day. What do I do to take care of sweet little Lulu? I make sure she eats FULL MEALS every four hours, embarks on regular naps, and drinks a plethora of fresh water to help her stay focused and healthy. If she acts out, I don’t yell at her because she’s, like, just a child. I give her a hug and a cookie and tell her to a take ten-minute breather in her bedroom. She emerges from that break, bright-eyed—feeling grounded, safe, and rested.
Try this technique. By personifying your anxiety you’ll be ~kinder~ to her. You won’t judge her so much because she’s just a person doing the best she can, OK?
Doing this will help you find practical ways to treat your anxiety and by treating it, you will be able to crawl out of your spirally, whirly, swirly, anxiety-ridden head and step into the light. You will finally be able to plug back into your heart. And when you’re connected to your heart, everything feels better. Because fear lives in the prison of your head. But LOVE? Love lives in the heart. And love f*cking wins. You’re reading GO Magazine. You already know that. I’m just here to remind you.