Living with Anxiety: How to Find Happiness
By Elizabeth Barrera
Lately I’ve had quite a few friends whose anxiety or stress takes them to intensely dark places like depression and suicidal thoughts. And first, I’d like to begin with letting you know that stress and anxiety are no joke. I am not suicidal at all, nor have I ever been. However, I do have a less severe case of anxiety that is mostly caused by stress and/or occasionally invites itself the minute I wake up in the morning. I can’t speak on behalf of those who do experience suicidal thoughts, but what I experience hurts enough. Some days you can’t even explain what you’re feeling to someone, while others, you simply just prefer to be alone and wallow, which may sometimes lead to crying.
Before I continue, I’d like to emphasize that I am not suicidal, nor have I ever been. I cannot relate to those who are, but I can sympathize and make an attempt to understand. I’ve spoken on loving someone who suffers from depression, but anxiety, too, is a real thing. And though I spoke on how to love and understand someone with depression, I never spoke on how someone with excessive sadness and loneliness can make an effort to get out of such a dark place.
I have a few suggestions, that have helped me, and may also help you if you’re ever stuck in a dark place and are willing to find a way out:
Talk to God. I talk to God every single day and make an effort to pray when I wake up in the morning and am driving into work, in the afternoons, and occasionally at nighttime. I not only pray, but I converse with Him. I let Him know what’s bothering and hurting me, and I mainly ask for clarity and help. Talk to Him as if you were talking to your best friend. God knows our struggles more than anyone else, and after praying and speaking to Him, I tend to feel more relaxed and hopeful.
Listen to music that makes you feel happy. I used to be a fan of allowing music to make me cry until I fell asleep and/or didn’t have to think about it anymore. Now, rather than always listening to sad and depressing music, I listen to hip hop and rap - or anything that’ll uplift me. The minute you listen to positive words is the same minute that your mindset and attitude will change. Some days you’ll wake up with too much anxiety and won’t want to listen to the happy music - that’s okay. Instead of giving in to the sad music, drive in silence and try to find peace of mind so that you begin feeling better.
Give yourself positive words of affirmation. For example, write yourself a note to wake up to in the morning. Wish yourself a good day and give yourself a compliment. I know it sounds corny, but it’ll bring a smile to your face and remind you that you’re worth not giving up on.
Exercise. Staying active and exercising increases the production of serotonin which helps improve your mood and well-being. So think of it as the natural version of antidepressant medication that’s actually benefiting you more since you’re not only helping your mind, but also your body. Deciding to go exercise is the hardest part, once you’re there and finished with your workout, you’ll feel much better.
Seek a support system. With this, I’m not saying that you need to go to group therapy or something - no. This could be anybody from your family to your closest friends, a significant other, or even group therapy if that is your choice of preference. Find someone to talk to and confide in. Having someone to talk to that you can trust with your life will help you live a much happier lifestyle.
Lastly, remember that nobody can make you happy. You have to find happiness within yourself, and once you do, someone else can add to that existing happiness. I understand that it can be difficult for those who are in a darker place and that seeking professional help may be the best route. But for those of you who know of someone who could use some help but can't afford professional services, try letting them know of these methods. Help them help themselves.