A number of people emailed me asking if I would write a post about anxiety coping mechanisms. To be honest with you, this is something that I struggle with if I am in a high anxiety situation. I get so worked up that I forget to even use these steps. However, not all anxiety is acute and for me, it can be a constant given the right conditions. It can be difficult to reduce your anxiety without the proper strategies. As someone who has been aware of my anxiety disorder for about 4 years now, I have come to identify ways that help me personally to address my anxiety in the here and now, and in the long run.
I just want to say before I write this that I am NOT an expert, just someone who lives with an anxiety disorder, and for much of the time lately, has been able to manage it fairly well. Also, what works for me may not work for you, so keep that in mind as you are reading. I will try to keep these tips as general as possible, so you can fill in your own situation easier in your head. Here are my recommendations to reduce your anxiety now:
- Recognize when you are anxious. This may seem weird, but there are times when I am anxious and I don’t even realize it. For much of my adult life, I think this was my normal state of being, constantly on edge. Without realizing it, I will just be sitting at my desk at work clenching my jaw or grinding my teeth to the point where the roots of my teeth hurt and I give myself a tension headache in my forehead to my neck. I will have a nervous stomach for no reason, like how you feel when you are acutely nervous about doing something that you are uncomfortable doing, sometimes this happens to me for no reason that I can see whatsoever. Recognize your personal symptoms of anxiety, so that you can begin to recognize how and when you are becoming anxious.
- Identify the antecedent. And there may not always be a cause or beginning to anxiety. For most of us, I think it just “is” and we don’t even always know why. Are you more stressed out while driving in a big city or when in a crowd of people? Does public transportation make you nervous, scared, or irritable? Are you afraid to talk on the phone to strangers? Find what situations are anxiety-inducing for you and address those situations. Sometimes, for me, avoidance of anxiety-inducing situations is the best way to go in managing my anxiety disorder. If I am stressed about driving, I ask K to drive because I know it’s something he loves to do. If I hate being in a crowd of people, well then I will probably just not go into the crowd and will definitely not go alone. Public transportation does make me nervous, so I usually drive myself or carry along hand sanitizer and hand wipes. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been afraid to talk on the phone to strangers, but this is mostly gone now because I have worked with the public for years, but there are other ways to communicate. Email is a great one 😀 Find what is giving you anxiety and decide if that situation or thing is worth the anxiety for you.
- Talk yourself down. Sometimes, anxiety hits us when we least expect it. If I see someone “sick,” then just like that I am in panic-phobia-high anxiety mode. It’s awful and something that I’ve been trying to work on about myself. Sometimes just picking apart the situation and seeing it for what it really is does so much to calm me down and help me to get past my anxiety in the moment. One way I do this is by asking myself the following questions and you’d be surprised by how well these work:
- Am I in danger?
- What’s the worst that could happen?
- Why am I scared of this?
- Have alone time. I certainly miss K when he goes to Korea, but having some small vacation to myself to enjoy all the things I like to do by myself and not have to worry about cooking or caring for anyone other than myself and cat is relaxing for me. I just go at my own pace and do my own thing. It might seem selfish, but it definitely helps me. Some people don’t necessarily have the ability to vacation from their significant other or children, for that matter, for any amount of time, but there are ways to get your alone time in. Take a walk. Even better, take a nature walk! Nature is an incredible healer. Don’t ever take the beauty of mother earth for granted. Go to a separate room of the house or visit the library to read a book or knit or crochet something. It can be anything, you just have to be creative.
- Know when to seek help. Sometimes, no matter what we do, anxiety gets the better of us and it can seem like that dark tunnel never ends. Mindfulness goes a long way in healing, but it is not always a fix all. It may be comforting just to have someone to discuss your concerns or problems with. It doesn’t even have to be a trained therapist or doctor. Religious centers or community centers often offer counseling services. Talk to a close friend or loved one. Search online for local support groups, which are often free and will help you connect to others with similar situations to your own. You don’t have to suffer alone. There are so many people out there who are willing and wanting to help you.
I think 5 is a good number. I could go longer, but I might just save those for another day.
What are your thoughts on these methods? Do you have any methods of your own? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
To follow me on Instagram: https://instagram.com/meganhasocd/
To follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/meganhasocd
To follow me on Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/meganhasocd/
To like my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-War-in-My-Brain/245100422309981
Hope to see you around!