Major sports figures and celebrities often appear to have perfect lives. But over the years a few have been brave enough to come forward and share personal stories about their anxiety and depression. Michael Phelps is the latest to come forward and he talks about his anxiety in a new film. http://people.com/sports/michael-phelps-talks-anxiety-new-film-angst/
Like many people, Michael has admitted to simply ignoring his anxiety. When he felt anger, depressed, or upset he would ignore it, burying his emotions and not dealing with them until that strategy no longer worked.
This was not a healthy plan and eventually the problems he was dealing with got too big for him to handle privately. Michael was arrested for drunk driving and marijuana possession, and he isolated himself by sitting in his room for days on end. He knew that the anxiety was manifesting in unhealthy ways and he ultimately came to the conclusion that he needed to make a change.
Phelps message was clear – he didn’t want to recover alone, and you should not suffer alone either. Phelps mentioned the importance of opening up and talking about his feelings. He explained that for him, he finally got to the point where he realized it is “ok, not to be ok.”
When you work with a therapist here in NYC, you develop a partnership with someone who will listen to everything you have to say. When patients visit my office they know I am there to ensure they are heard in a safe environment that they can trust. We work to unravel the often confusing and upsetting emotions and then find ways to build up healthy coping mechanisms to help you when you feel anxious.
How can you start to feel more empowered when you feel anxious? If you are going through an anxious period in your life, it is critical that you develop methods to help you deal with stressful situations.
- Breathe – Taking a deep breath in and out can help you relax. There are very specific ways to breathe that can maximize its stress reducing capabilities.
- Start to write about your stressors. Some form of journaling can be very therapeutic and gives you a list that exists outside of yourself of what is making you feel anxious. There is no right or wrong way to journal so just start writing to find your comfort level.
- Get outside. There is a tremendous benefit to just getting outside and walking around. It could be interacting with nature, seeing other people or just the physical exercise that makes you feel a bit better.
- Exercise. There are many individuals who feel that regular exercise keeps their mind in balance. So, with your doctor’s approval, get over to the gym and start sweating.
- Talk. Just like Michael Phelps, talking with a trusted person is important. We can put in place strategies to ensure that when anxiety creeps up you have a plan on how to handle it.
Here in Manhattan we live in a very busy environment and it seems that everyone else is doing fine and getting ahead. The truth is, just like Michael Phelps, many struggle to find some balance. Just like Michael, find help for yourself so that when you hit bumps in the road you can handle them and succeed.