Here are a few things I wish we talk about more when you and I talk about success:
- Mental Health - How are you currently dealing with your acute stress?
- Physical Fitness - What are you putting into your body? Are you getting enough sleep? Are you depriving yourself of proper nutrition? Are you binge eating?
- Emotional Stability - Who are you surrounding yourself with on a daily basis?
All of these things are important for you to maintain...if anything, I value these things just as much as I value your hustle, your enthusiasm, and your perseverance. And I say this with the greatest empathy because I know what it's like to not have these three things but today, I'm going to talk about something I've only shared with one or two people in my life.
I have anxiety.
So much so that I wake up at four in the morning every day, sweat down my back, tears in my eyes, heart racing. It's bad. And it's gotten worse over the past few weeks. From dreading Sundays to being indecisive about everything (By the way, this is very un-Khanh like) it's not just my mental health that has been affected but I found that my productivity has also decreased. It is very difficult to explain but all I can tell you is that I feel hypersensitive. It's like having a dialogue with yourself 24/7 where you say all of these unkind things to yourself that you would never let anyone else get away with saying to you.
Earlier this week, I did some research on this and found that psychologists say that when we are in a state of fear, "We compromise our ability to process thoughts and events rationally. Our brain wants to protect us by sending us in a direction away from the pain point."
Naturally, when I read this, I wanted to put my fuzzy socks and bathrobe on and snuggle in my bed with my heated blanket. It's always so much easier to hide away from fear then to overcome it but I figured if I wanted to continue to live this way, I'll eventually be someone I wouldn't like. So I decided to do three things that I wanted to share with you:
- Analyze the root of the stress and identify exactly what is holding you back (For instance: Is it your career? Do you feel like you are behind everyone else? Is it your relationship? Are you afraid to walk away from a relationship that no longer serves you?) You cannot face something if you don't know what you are up against. For me, my anxiety stems from my ambitions. As someone who is extremely analytical, I get the jitters and preoccupations during times of transition. I'm always going through daily motions, anticipating for the grand milestone I'm about to cross. The "not knowing what I'm going to be doing with my life" kills me.
- Create a small action plan. Talk to your mentor or someone you trust about your goals and objectives. If it's your career, write down things you enjoy doing and things you'd never do again. I'm a very big proponent of writing things down on a notepad rather than typing it down. If you don't have a plan, how are planning to reach your destination?
- Work on your physical, emotional and mental health. I work out four times a week. Twice on the weekdays and twice on the weekends. After my 50 minutes work out, I spend the last 10 minutes meditating and practicing better breathing techniques. This has been life-changing for me. Need an app to help you meditate better? Try this one: https://www.headspace.com
I just want to reiterate that this is not a comfortable nor has it been an easy process for me but if it's between succumbing to my anxiety or be proactive about it, I think I'm going to go with the latter.
What I can tell you is that I think it's important for you to celebrate your day-to-day progress and small wins. That's what success is about. Having mini victories and giving yourself the permission to feel proud of your daily grind.
If you're going through this, I would love to hear what you're currently doing to overcome your anxiety.