For Those In Their 20s: Tips To Overcome Anxiety And Stress
By Nada Ahmed
A wise man told me that once I turned 25 my whole life would change, and it did. That wise man proposed to me on my 25th birthday, and we got married. But before then, specifically as I turned 20, everyday was a turning point in my life. I had just turned 21 when the Jan 25th Egyptian Revolution struck, witnessing too much death, heartbreak, anticipation and hope. I graduated and my ties with the academic institution were once-and-for-all broken. I was always between jobs while trying desperately to find a purpose for my life, a job that can fulfil it, and of course money to make a living altogether. I moved out of my mother’s house and that was a whole new era of turning points. I fought my father in courts, police stations and the streets furiously for trying to cause me and my sister harm. I lost a best friend following some serious drama which spurted for months. I fell deeply in love and got married. All of which—whether traumatizing or delightful experiences—was inevitably part of a process that was back-breaking and mentally arduous.
Luckily, two years ago I was saved by a well-paid home-based job and a rooftop apartment with a heavenly view of Cairo’s Nile, Opera House and sky. My spiritual life had never been better, but that didn’t last long. After losing both the job and the apartment, heaven bid me farewell and some old visitors started knocking on my door again!
I suffered severe anxiety and depression as a child and teenager and it only got a little better as I grew up and taught myself how to embrace the world with all its cruelty and fairness. Being also—most of the time—surrounded by the right people who were at the same level of spirituality and understanding of human nature helped me a great deal to accept what the world called “mental illness” but we saw as the beauty of a sensitive human soul.
Anxiety and stress came along the way because of feeling alone or helpless in situations where I couldn’t neither control nor handle everything. They seemed to linger much longer, though.
But that didn’t work for me, and it can’t work for anybody else either.
Take it from me, our 20’s are the most important phase in our lives, 30’s should (and must be) our best phase. In your 20’s you take small decisions on which your entire life will depend on. In your 20’s you experience all the wonders your body and mind can make so that you know what you want to do for the rest of your life. In your 20’s you have your most furious, overwhelming and intimate struggles with yourself and others. In your 20’s you pave the path to your true, wild and best version of yourself.
In your 20’s there can’t be energy wasted over negative feelings like stress and anxiety. There can’t be any compromises.
I learned that the hard way when I woke up one day, sick to my stomach and tired of shouting and fighting and crying, and almost losing my partner, every day. I realized that, because everything was falling apart, stressing over it would never put it back into pieces.
Here is what I did/thought to get rid of anxiety attacks and stressful thinking:
BREATHE: I was told once that breathing the right way while moving can make our bodies so light and relaxed. I applied that to all kind of activities—other than moving—and saw the difference. Breathing, observing my breath and command it to go to every part of my body was of great help when stressed and in ordinary times as well.
PRACTICE SOMETHING: Fixating anger over something or someone is the greatest danger of all. It can cost you your health and the closest people to you. Every time I feel angry, I run home, lock myself up in my room and practice something, then make it a daily habit (if it’s not already). Yoga, meditation, dancing, reading, writing, cooking or even drinking a cup of coffee while listening to music are among a lot of things that can be done on the spot to reduce stress.
CONSUME MYSELF: Why consume myself with anger and negativity when I can consume it in something positive? I’m the kind of person who’s extremely good at working so hard then having fun even harder. And I’m sure a lot of people are. So instead of lying in bed weeping over things gone wrong, I get up and decided I’m both working and having fun today like there’s no tomorrow.
LISTEN & COMMUNICATE: Most of our stress comes from not listening and communicating with other people affiliating with the issue we’re ferreting about. We tend to let things accumulate inside, fuel us with rage, and then we suddenly start behaving according to it. And what usually makes it worse is that we inflict our rage on what’s being said in response to what the other side is trying to communicate. We end up saying things that are harsh, unkind and so unlike ourselves. Try to first listen to what they had to say, and take a moment to think of what can be said that reflects your kind self, not the angry one.
ACCEPT EXCUSES & COMPROMISES: Sharing a life with someone means a whole lot of excuses and compromises to be made for each other. I’d never favoured accepting that truth about relationships and it ruined everything for me. I vowed not to make the same mistake this time. Yes, it requires plenty of patience and trust in people (which is hard to come by), but you also need to remember all the times they gave you excuses and compromised for your wellbeing. If they haven’t yet, give them a chance to prove they’re worthy.
UNDERSTAND PEOPLE’S ENERGIES: My Fung-Shai sometimes gets out of hand and I can easily be driven crazy by things in the house not being in their place. This has cost me a couple of former flatmates. They thought I had OCD while it was really being desperate for a proper home energy to help me relax. After facing the same dilemma with my partner, I came to understand that people have different feeling of place energy, and maybe what feels good for me being put on the floor feels good for them being placed on the table.
MAKE LOVE: Having sex is proven to be the ultimate cure for stress, yet making love is proven more beneficial on the long run. Taking sometime off and simply lying in bed, touching, making love and taking out time at is one of my favourite spiritual, stress-reducing practice.
RUB FINGERS: An ancient Chinese self-massage technique that can improve heart circulation and reduce stress in a matter of seconds, is to bring both your index finger and middle finger together, keep rubbing them softly for 60 seconds or more. This will work wonders on your mental health. And because palms are connected to the nervous system, so messaging them on a daily basis can help with problems in different parts of the body, like digestion problems, migraines and shortness of breath.
BE KIND: Small acts of kindness such as making someone smile by telling them how nice they look today or hugging them or bringing them a gift can make everyone feel better. Kindness whilst expressing my feeling about someone’s annoying behaviour could also spare me hours and days of quarrel and negative energy. And last but not least, kindness to awesome beautiful self.