As we all live in this constantly changing world and often run 100 different directions on our daily basis and without realizing it our anxiety start coming up. If you are from a closed culture, like me, talking about anxiety and having those open discussions with your family or loves ones often is not as easy. Or sometimes we do not want to talk about our issues with our loved ones as we feel we are going to be judged. I have been there; I know the feeling.
Last April I was diagnosed with anxiety and at first, I refuse to accept it. I felt as something was wrong with me and if I accepted it, I had to dig into deeper issues that I did not want to recognize. All that denial did nothing good to me but pushed my anxiety even further. The signs I experienced would be rapid heart rates, shortness of breath, short temper, turn into a nagging person, and just be negative. These symptoms would show randomly throughout the month, like 2-3 days, so at first, I try to manage it by taking naps and just going on drives. Thought I could manage it all until I start fainting at work or around my friends and everything just became worse.
Meanwhile, with everything going on I still was going to therapy but was not fully opened minded. The therapy sessions were just another to-do list on my busy schedule. That was until one day I felt miserable and called my therapist to see me ASAP, and he did. In that session, I finally accepted the fact that I cannot control everything in my life, and I have to do something about the uncontrolled emotions I was having. After some deep analysis of my lifestyle, my career, my hobbies, and circle of friends I realized that what I was missing was being happy with my career and my professional choices in life. It was not easy to accept it as I love sales, I can negotiate all day every day and never get bored of it, but that did not seem to be the problem. The problem was I was turning into a robot doing day in and day out the same thing in my work. My brain was not working and processing things anymore, I was in full autopilot mode on every sale and connection that I made. Once I remember going to my manager and asking him “Give me one reason why I should not quit my job right now? I feel suffocated by this job and I feel my soul dying every day. If I stay here 1 more month, I will die from a heart attack”. He saw the separation on my face, and he said “As a father, I would never want my child to feel how you are feeling right now. Go home, take tomorrow off, and get some rest. Do not make a decision on high emotions. Come back to work in 2 days and we will talk again.”
I was one of the top salespeople, my production was growing every month more and more. My commission paycheck was higher and higher every month too, but I was not happy. I saw myself as just a sales agent and I knew I had more potential and that was killing me. Feeling like you can do more, but others look at you with the doubting eye of “yeah…okay” destroys you sometimes.
So, I took a step back. After a lot of thinking, journaling, and opening up to what was bothering me I created an exit strategy and created a plan on actually pursuing what I wanted to. If you know me you know how much I enjoy sales, marketing, public relations, connecting with people, and just bring a great product to life. Knowing all these, I started my podcast to promote myself more and build my own brand since I did not have the necessary platform before. After a while I realized I was not being unreasonable, but this is something that a lot of successful professionals have gone through so that made me feel so much better. I did not feel as I was an odd person anymore for living on autopilot mode for months and dragging to go to work.
Through the podcasting journey and reaching the goal for my exit strategy my therapist also recommended me to carry around with me an “Anxiety Emergency Kit”. I was not really on board with this at first, but I made the kit just in case only to later find out it is one of the best things I have done. You can create one too, I will share with you what I have in mine and either uses the same or something similar but you need to focus on five important factors: smell, taste, sound, touch, and sight. Your emergency kit is to be used as soon as you feel your anxiety kicking in and you start getting those early symptoms of “I fell off!”, “My heart rate is going up while sitting”, “I feel overwhelmed but nothing major is going on”, or whatever anxiety symptom you experience. Again, I am no licensed medical expert here, I am only to share what works for me.
So, let’s get to it.
I know I am not the only that enjoys a smell of a good candle or a mesmerizing essential oil. Now, the emergency kit is to be with you at any time, in your car, or your purse. With essential oils, I carry one in my car and the rest in my house (office, bedroom, and living room). When I am away from home and need an anti-anxiety smell boost, I place a little essential oil on my wrist, behind my ears, or under my nose. I take my time to process the smell of the oil so that I can space out and relax. This helps me recalibrate my self and reset my system. After using essential oils like this I also start using them on my forehead on those bad migraine days and they work miracles!
For my nightly routine, I use incense. It did take me a while to find my favorite scents but I always try new ones too so I can make sure I am not missing on new picks. Since using essential oils and incense I do not use candles anymore. The smell of the oils or incense is more intense for me therefore that is my go-to for the smell in my “Anxiety Emergency Kit”.
Do you have a favorite kind of gum or candy? Well, if not start exploring and find your favorite one. For taste on my emergency kit I have peppermint mind candy and here is the trick…you do not chew it. You let it melt in your mouth and while doing so stop whatever you are doing and just enjoy the taste! Take 5 mins and fully take in the mint kick in your taste buds and be present. Your heart rate will start regulating slowly as you are relaxing and paying attention to what you are experiencing at the moment. Be present!
We all have a go-to music app, that being iTunes, Pandora, or Spotify. For those emergencies, moments create a playlist that gets you lost in the music. Make the playlist your top 10-15 songs that you can hear on repeat and fully enjoy the melody every time. Of course, you can update the playlist from time to time but take a moment and get to that playlist now… you can thank me later.
Something else that you can do for sound is use white noises or raining sound. I have found both these sounds help a lot on relaxation as well.
My go-to for this is my fidget spinner. You can however use a fidget spinner, stress ball, or a clicker. Find your favorite and then order a colorful or a specially designed one online and know that is your relaxer when you start getting stressed and anxiety creeps in. Something else that I use for my touch senses is my ring. I have a very simple ring on my left thumbs since forever and I play with my ring and a pencil, hula hoop the ring on my pencil, and start counting. After I do 50 ring-pencil hoops then I get back to my work. It might sound silly, but it works. Explore around and see what your favorite is.
For a while I also start knitting too. My grandma taught me how to knit at a young age and she also made sure to show me different styles too. I made some very unattractive scarves and some great ones, but I always felt a lot better afterward. Do not worry about the final product, this is supposed to just relax you.
For my visual section, I have two favorite go-tos. The first one is coloring; I have a 24 and 50 crayons pack which I love using when I cannot control my emotions like I would like to. I would either print out coloring designs and just lay down my artistic side on the paper or I start drawing and coloring. Let me tell you though, you will never see my drawing in an art gallery as they are not good looking, but they help me. Also, what I have noticed is depending on what is causing me stress I use different colors. If it is my career, I use dark colors and it if my personal life I use bright colors. This might be because I feel more challenges in my career than my personal life issue, but I am not an expert at that. If any of you knows the meaning of it, please let me know.
My second most visual tactic is enjoying sunsets. After a lot of research, I have found some of the most mesmerizing sunset spots in my town and if I am having one of those days or feel as I have to reset myself I go and enjoy a sunset. Recently also found out that people who love sunsets are called opacarophile. Opacarophile originates from Latin “opacare” which means sunset and “phile” which means love in Greek. The biggest reason why I enjoy sunsets is that it makes me feel as today's problem is about to vanish with the sunset and no matter how hard of a day I might have had the sunset view give me hope and desire for tomorrow's sunrise. Maybe because I try to see the positive in everything or maybe because I want to enjoy my problems leave me. I do not know exactly which one, but I know to tell you sunsets amaze me every time. Fun fact: I have more sunset pictures on my phone than selfies.
As you can tell my kit as more visual options for me as I am a visual learner. The reason why you need to explore with all 5 senses is so you can find your favorite one. You might even be surprised on how much you will learn about yourself during this process 😊
So, you might ask, Romina, why in the world are you sharing this with us. Well, I talked about the “Anxiety Emergency Kit” to a close friend of mine recently and she loved the ideas as she could see how this kit could help her in the future therefore I decided someone else might need to hear it.
You do not know how something can help you unless you try it, so go ahead and do so. This emergency kit has helped me a big deal while going through my anxiety episodes. To me it is like your personalized SOS button, you modify it however you want to. It is special made!
Maybe a family or a friend of yours needs to hear about this as well so please share this article with someone who you think can benefit from it. Nothing makes me happier than getting those messages or emails from our audience where they express how an article of mine helped them or a podcast episode changed their perspective.
Let us spread out the positivity and tell anxiety to F*** off 😊
Bonus questions: What is Romina’s favorite scent?
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