I’ve struggled with anxiety for years. At times it’s been so horrible and all-encompassing I no longer wanted to exist. Suicidal ideations are terrifying which guess what? Increases your anxiety. Unfortunately, I’ve got the receipts one gets when being caught in these endless loop of pain.
You are not alone. Anxiety doesn’t mean you’re broken. Through therapy and trial and error I’ve come up with a list of things I do to combat and live with anxiety, and maybe they can help you too.
1) Make peace with your anxiety. Try imagining anxiety as a child, if you try to ignore it anxiety just gets louder and more insistent. Acknowledge your feelings as valid. Accept you feel this way, and if you’re able to function do so. When I feel anxious I catalogue how I feel (physical and mentally): trembling hands, horrible thoughts, racing heart, etc. Then I acknowledge I’m anxious and it sucks. It feels terrible but while I feel yucky I can still do X. Sometimes X is writing other times X is mindless cleaning or organizing. Yup, I feel terrible but at least X is done. For me, many times simply forcing myself out of my head goes a long way in relieving the symptoms.
2) Tapping or going for a walk can make a world of difference. The rhythm of left, right, left of your hands tapping or your feet walking puts you in the other side of your brain. This pattern can calm you and changing your environment can allow your brain to find something else to focus on.
3) I practice grounding techniques which basically asks questions that focuses on things outside your body. Name four yellow things that you can see, three red, and one blue. What is the day, month, and year?
4) Focused breathing can help. There are many different patterns. An easy one I use is the four count method: Inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of four, exhale for a count of four and again. Add lavender or another calming scent to relax you further.
5) Anxiety takes creativity so I try channel that into drawing, coloring, writing, crafting, knitting, organizing, etc. You want something to worry about… think of your sock drawer. Would the YouTube organizers think?
6) Reading can transport you into another place and into another person’s world. The break from our whole can be invaluable. Sometimes I read pure fluff other times I want to read something about someone who has struggled as I have and has overcome it. Luckily for you there’s a bunch of books right here.
7) Therapy can be invaluable at teaching you the tools you need to thrive. A therapist can help you determine if medication could help.
8) Dump listing can relieve your mind. Sometimes holding all our worries and to do’s gives us anxiety. Listing all the things that are troubling us and/or all the things we need to do can seem overwhelming but usually looking at it on paper/computer allows for some distance. You are no longer fearing you’ll forget you need to do something and you might even be able to prioritize the things you are in control of. Sometimes being in charge can make us feel empowered and less helpless which can translate into less anxiety.
9) Dance therapy isn’t just a fab. Movement forces your brain to do something other than loop in a circle. Even the most listless among us can find some energy in dance.
10) Find a positive obsession. During the pandemic, I found Asian dramas and the musical group BTS. Both of these draw me into another world and allow my brain to ask questions about nonanxiety producing things.
I truly know how overwhelming everything can seem. Give yourself permission to be out of sorts. Reach out for help when you’re able.
Wishing you all the best. Take care of yourself.