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Sharpe-Jefferson: Understanding and Overcoming Anxiety

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By Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson

Don’t let anyone tell you that anxiety is not real.

We toss around the word anxiety way too casually, but its effects can be absolutely sinister on our mental well-being.

And I’m not just talking about the occasional bout of anxious feelings (which is totally normal, by the way), but rather the crippling, persistent, life-challenging form of anxiety disorder.

Let me say that I’m not here to diagnose this disorder. I encourage you to visit a medical professional who can help you do that.

But I am here to sound the alarm and ask you to recognize that if those “anxious” feelings keep interrupting your normal daily routine, show up more or last longer than usual, or impose consistent, fearful or torturous thoughts, then it’s likely time to get some professional help.

And let me go ahead and deal with this. It does NOT mean that you are crazy or “out of your mind” because you’re experiencing severe anxiety or have an anxiety disorder. And it doesn’t imply that you are weak.

We can’t blame the pandemic for everything, but we do know that it has changed life for us in so many more ways than we could have ever imagined. At its core, the pandemic produced disruptive, distinct and indelible change. And we’ll remember it for a while to come.

On top of that, simply add the day-to-day layer of doing life; then the responsibilities of businesses, careers, marriages and parenthood.

Not so strange that we could deal with anxiety disorder to a greater degree when you view from those lens?

So, how do we begin to understand or overcome this disorder? It is generally defined as a common disorder characterized by feelings of worry, anxiety or fear that are strong enough to disrupt one’s daily activities.

I am a firm believer that our own soul is well aware when we need help or when we’ve crossed a boundary that can ultimately prove harmful if we don’t course correct.

So…we get those warnings deep down in our heart and soul. That uneasiness that won’t go away. Or we experience sudden, irrational outbreaks of fear. Or, see a persistent irritability and restlessness.

But often, due to the business of life, or our inability to practice mindfulness (slowing down and being present), or our unwillingness to take a truthful look at our own circumstances, we keep moving about as though it’s business as usual.

My encouragement is for you to slow down. And then, employ some simple and practical habits to deal with anxiety and anxiety disorder.

  • For the spiritually minded, don’t negate the power of prayer and godly counsel. Knowing that you aren’t carrying a personal burden alone can provide significant relief. I offer one caveat here. Pray, and add other practical steps to bring you total restoration in your mind and heart.
  • Secondly, make sure your rest is in order. Anxiety has a way of keeping you off kilter and unable to get rest at any time of the day or night. Many have found it difficult to keep their sleep routine in order. Be mindful that this one element can bring about even more unwanted health consequences if not dealt with promptly. Simply put, you need rest.
  • Journal about what you are feeling and why. I’m a firm believer that your heart knows the answer to every dilemma you face. Could your job be the source of stress? Have you recently lost a loved one? Or are you fretting a major life decision?

Write your thoughts out freely. The pages of the journal will not judge you, but they will reveal what’s on the inside of you.

Keep in mind, I’m sharing simple, practical steps to get you started on the road to recovery over anxiety disorder. But, if needed, I also encourage you to enlist the help of a medical professional.

As a life coach, the Life Change Strategist, I am also available to help you move forward if anxiety has you currently feeling stuck.

Let me conclude by saying, we would all do ourselves a big favor if we get past the “stigma” of mental disorders such as anxiety disorder.

Again, get some support. Change your negative perspective. And remember, you’re not a victim, you are victorious.

Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson is a life coach, author and speaker. Her column appears on the first and third Thursdays of each month online and in The Birmingham Times. You can contact Keisa at keisa@keisasharpe.com and visit http://www.allsheanaturals.com for natural hair and body products.