What to do when you’re an anxious mess of an adult.
No money? No time? No sleep? No problem! You can always cry and tweet to the void.
Seriously, if you’re a struggling young adult who can’t afford to pay someone else per hour to listen to your woes, I’d like to offer you some free advice. Things are not fun, and that stress and anxiety you feel from trying to navigate this world as a (more or less) socially independent entity — adult — is THE NORMAL REACTION.
The things you’ll find here aren’t new but they’re very easy to overlook or ignore. When you apply them often, you may find that those feelings of anxiety and overwhelm have a weaker hold on you. Because even when you hit rock bottom and cannot find the strength to reach out to others, you can always be there for you.
- Tweet to the Void
You may know Twitter as the land of anger and wrath, throne of cancel culture and footstool of raving Stans. You are right. But that isn’t all there is to the bird app.
Twitter is such a digitization of the world that people actually divide it into countries/regions. Nigerian Twitter is very different from American Twitter. But there’s also Tech Twitter, Screenwriting Twitter and Catholic Twitter. It’s a digital re-presentation of a good chunk of the world. Like a metaverse before Meta.
Why is this good? People are on Twitter for different reasons. It’s not like Linkedin or Instagram which have some kind of structured purpose. On Twitter, your mind can play.
So, when you have a war of thoughts going on in your head and you don’t exactly know how to express it or who to tell but still crave some form of release. Try tweeting it. Many people find this therapeutic.
Your tweets don’t have to make sense. You could just post ‘omo!’ or ‘how is this the cost of bread?!’ It’s not much, but you have one less thought trapped in there. And who knows? Someone else may see it and agree that the cost of bread is truly outrageous! But even if no one else replies, that’s fine. Just remind yourself that you’re tweeting to the void, which is the equivalent of going someone secluded and screaming your head off, so your emotions don’t make you explode.
Twitter was created to be a 148-character digital journal you add to either by writing something, or by retweeting something you can relate to.
Pro Tip: You can tweet and delete in 2secs. There is no tweet-police.
- Become a Sensei of the Senses:
When you’re feeling overwhelmed because life is doing its thing, you can calm yourself down by engaging your senses in a positive way, to help you focus on something else.
For instance, a huge bill just appeared out of nowhere like LASTMA, and your account balance is a comedian’s punchline. You could take a warm bath, wear something you find very comfortable, wrap yourself in a soft blanket or just hold something soft — touch.
If you have a scent you love, try surrounding yourself with it. Vanilla essence, for instance, is cheap as heck. If you like the smell of vanilla, maybe pour some a couple of drops of Vanilla essence on your pillow and lean your face against it — smell. For sight, try changing your wallpaper to an image with colours that reflect your mood or the mood you want.
All this may sound very woo-woo-poo but I tell you, just changing little things about your personal space to make you feel more comfortable gives you a sense of being in control of something, when everything else is off the wall.
Oh! Please feel free to cry too. You have tear ducts for precisely this purpose.
- Love yourself with your love language
It’s the little things buddy! We tend to go all out trying to intentionally love others, but what about us?
Say you’re the kind that feels loved when someone gets you a gift, try getting something for yourself. I’m not saying you should use your rent to buy a new phone, buy something small like your favorite chocolate bar and eat it with great relish.
Words of affirmation lover? Write your future self a small note, summarizing what is going on now and adding true affirmations like ‘you’ve been tough stuff before and made it out alive! You can do this!’.
Physical touch? Give yourself a manicure, clean your ears, take a long bath and butter yourself up with cream, do a skincare routine (if you have the stuff), or rub your feet.
Ideas abound! And if you’re not sure of your principal love language or haven’t heard of this term before, click here.
- Self-compassion is Radical:
Self-compassion is treating yourself the way you would treat an awesome friend. Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror after making a mistake and just said something like ‘are you stupid?’ ‘you’re dumb!’. Would you ever tell a good friend THAT if they opened up to you about a mistake, they felt bad about?
The correct answer is no, since you’re not a kraken.
We strive to be compassionate and understanding with those we love. So, instead of beating yourself up for not doing enough or being enough (according to some made-up standard), why not choose compassion and encouragement?
Instead of raining rude insults on yourself, why not acknowledge the error simply and focus on how you can do better?
To enter the amazing world of self-compassion, I think you may want to watch this TEDX talk by specialist, Dr Kristin Neff.
- Eat a Rainbow:
If you ever get anxious about caring for your body, a simple resolution can be better than consuming thousands of wellness blogposts and meal plans.
Try eating a rainbow.
Can’t remember the last time you ate something green? Grab a green fruit in the market (even if it’s just one). Haven’t had some yellow? Custard is calling your name. What about brown? Akara, moi-moi, porridge — take your pick.
When you eat enough ‘colours’ consistently, you’re getting variety! And even if life feels like 💩, at least you’ll have rainbow 💩 like a unicorn.
- Engage Nostalgia
You can’t go long on 2022’s internet without stumbling across this phrase ‘inner child’. The gist of the term is that we all carry our younger selves within us — the joys, pain, likes, desires, trauma etc. Knowing this helps when you’re dealing with anxiety, stress or overwhelm, by helping you activate nostalgia.
Are there things you loved doing when you were little, just for fun? I used to build a fort with pillows and bedsheets just to read underneath or play make-believe.
Or is there something you really wanted to do when you were little but never got the chance? Can you do it now?
Can you rewatch your favourite childhood shows or listen to the songs you had on repeat as a teenager?
Nostalgia is warm feeling that can help take our minds away from whatever is bothering us. This isn’t some new-age woo-woo, it’s science.
Ah yes. The ol’ ha ha ha.
Every Nigerian-in-suffering knows one of the easiest ways to relieve tension is to crack a joke; even if it’s about the very problem at hand.
These days everyone wants to be a comedian, which is good because you can become the judge of talent. Go find some silly memes, crazy puns, dad jokes or funny pet videos and laugh till your stomach begs for mercy.
Look into the horizon of the internet, everything the light of comedy touches is your kingdom. Own it.
Personally, I have become something of a meme connoisseur, myself.
Finally, let me assure you: No one, absolutely no one, has any cheat-sheets they’re using to ‘win’ at life.
This is everyone’s first time on Earth. We don’t have past-life-experiences supplying life-altering skills and clues. People just be winging it, fam.
So, don’t feel like you’re ‘behind’ or not ‘living’ some kind of optimal existence. You are not Optimus Prime. Cut yourself some slack and let’s do this adult thing together — several blunders at a time.
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