Look, we’ve all been stressed. Maybe most of us have even felt anxious. And a lot more of us have some kind of anxiety disorder than the world would like to believe. Whether it’s school, work, life, or literally nothing, because anxiety is fun that way, anxiety can strike at any time. Sometimes it’s minor, maybe some intrusive thoughts or a slightly increased heart rate. Other times, it can be a full blown panic attack for something seemingly trivial. But no matter the severity, anxiety can be frustrating, demanding, life-changing, and even infuriating.
I know how this goes. I deal with it every single day. As a result, I started going to therapy, taking medication, eating in a way that doesn’t exacerbate things, and removed unnecessary stress from my world. In grad school, it was completely running my life and all of my choices. And it made me absolutely miserable. While my life has calmed down in the last year, it certainly has not been free of stress and bouts of anxiety. We all have our ways of dealing with it, but I wanted to share what has worked for me. Because you never know, you may find something new that can help you too.
Things I Do When I Feel Anxious
This is often the first thing people do when they start to feel anxiety creeping up. I know it’s often my first step, because it’s something that can be done anywhere in any situation. And honestly, it makes a huge difference. Focusing on your breathing not only brings down your heart rate and reduces secretions of cortisol, but it gives you something to control. And sometimes, when it feels like things are spinning out of control, that really makes all the difference.
The next thing I do, and sometimes in tandem with breathing, is stop, When I start feeling anxious, I’ll stop what I’m currently doing and just be for a minute. If I’m at work, maybe I’ll just take a short break and do nothing, stepping away from the all the thoughts swirling around my head. Sometimes, this requires going into another room or into the bathroom, but I just allow myself to not do anything for a moment or two. This allows me to regroup, gather my thoughts, and move forward. It’s not always a quick, easy fix. But it has never once made things worse. And it’s a wonderful way to take account of your thoughts and feelings, seeing what may be causing your current anxiety.
I’ve mentioned this in previous posts, but there’s something super therapeutic about getting outside. I mean, it’s been shown time and time again that greenery and nature makes people happier. And for me, it’s all about a change of scenery. Stepping outside, feeling the sun on my face, and breathing in fresh air is incredibly refreshing. It’s another one of my favorite ways to reset, especially when I’m feeling anxious. In fact, I make a point of eating my lunch outside most days at work. If you can combine the breathing, the stopping, and the being outside, evenbetter.
I don’t know about you guys, but my cell phone does NOT help my anxiety. Honestly, it makes it so much worse. Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious, I try to distract myself by scrolling through my Instagram feed, or pinning things on Pinterest. But really, that only makes things worse. On Instagram, I start feeling inadequate seeing what others are accomplishing on that platform. I feel guilty for not posting every day. Then I start think about everything I “should” be doing to grow my Instagram as a blogger. And it just spirals from there. The same thing tends to happen on just about any social media platform, and that’s super counter-productive. So I find it’s better to just turn my phone off, or leave it in another room, and forget about the internet for a while. It’s a great little escape.
Talk or Write
If you can’t tell, I’m pretty open about my physical and mental health issues. That’s because I know I’m not the only one going through them. That’s also because I find it powerful and therapeutic to get these thoughts, feelings, and experiences out into the world. For some people, it’s journaling. For others, maybe it’s talking to a friend, loved one, and/or professional. Personally, I tend to write blog posts and talk to my parents or my friends. It’s always nice to hear someone give another point of view, and to just listen to you. And if you’re more the writing type, it’s always nice to get your thoughts down into a journal or a blog post and out of your head. Both of these things help me work through my anxious feelings and help me feel like I’m taking action to remedy them.
Specifically, listen to music or podcasts. If you know me at all, or have read my blog for a while, you know darn well how obsessed I am with podcasts. They’re perfect escapes from the everyday, and are amazingly entertaining. And while I’m not necessarily an advocate for distracting from your problems, I am all about taking action to help yourself work through feelings of anxiety. And for me, that means feeling like I’m in control. If I have something engaging to focus on, like a podcast, I get that sense of comfort and control back, and it helps me calm down.
Obviously there are other great ways to help calm an anxiety attack. A few other favorites that I use regularly are showering, reading, and snuggling with my pets. I also love a good walk. If you already do some of these things when anxiety strikes, or even if you don’t, I hope you’ve found something that works for you. If you have other tips, please share them in the comments below! You never know who might need it! And please know, as frustrating as anxiety can be, you are never alone in your struggle. And you are so very loved.