18 ways to cope with anxiety (part 1 of 2)
Please sit down comfortably, because this is going to be a long one! To help you I made a graphic in my journal, which you can use to try to remember the techniques I will describe below. Which are 18 techniques I have learned throughout my years of anxiety and therapy. An important note: therapy is still recommended if you have anxiety. I am not a therapist, so the things I describe are solely from my experience. They may or may not help you.
1 – Acceptance
The first way is absolutely the most important one in my opinion. If you accept that you aren’t doing well, and that it is okay, only then will you start to feel better. It sounds strange, but I even thank God for all the good and bad times. Especially the bad.
Whenever I am in one of my anxiety attacks, the first thing I do is try to accept that I am worrying, stressed or afraid. I am allowed to feel that way, but I do want to fix it.
2 – ‘Stop!!!’
A very useful technique that I recently learned is to ‘yell’ stop as hard as I can in my mind whenever my mind is going on overload, when the thoughts just won’t stop. Again, this technique sounds strange, but that is exactly why it works. (And now I will stop apologizing for the weirdness of the techniques, because most may sound that way)
You may do this out loud if you so wish, but for me, imagining I am sitting in a full bus, feeling anxious and yelling STOP at the top of my lungs sounds so ridiculous, that immediately I see the humor in the situation, stopping the mill of my thoughts.
Either way, after saying it, go on to think of other things. Make up a story, sing a song, whatever. You just told you mind to stop, so stop.
3 – 5-4-3-2-1
Furthermore, a well known technique for when in the middle of an anxiety attack is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. Name 5 things that you can see. Name 4 things that you can hear, and listen to them. Name 3 things that you can touch (and touch them). Name 2 things that you can smell. And finally, name 1 thing that you can taste. These things can be anything. The idea is to distract yourself from your anxiety. (also, this may not be in the right order, I only remember 5-4-3-2-1, and then try to think of which items go with it. So one time I may touch 5 things, another I might see them)
4 – Breathing
Most therapists will tell you to do breathing exercises as the first thing to do. With good reason, as it helps you focus on only your breath, rather than the nasty things whirling in your mind. There is multiple ways to do this, but I will leave you to Google those for yourself 😉
5 – Songs
I have several albums that I listen to whenever in need of calming. I will most likely share my prefered songs with you all soon, but since this post already has 18 points… I better not. Find the songs that help you calm down, and listen to them when in need. Try to sing along with all your concentration for the best effect.
6 – Distraction
Sometimes, when within the right mind, it can help to distract yourself from anxiety. But it is important to note that this is only useful if you still have some clear mind left. Go do something, for me it works best to work with my hands, but find something that works for you.
7 – Power through
There are occasions when you just have to tell yourself to (wo)man up and get through with it. Moments when you may be too scared to do what you need to do. It can help to just do it. Turn off your mind and just go. I know, this is incredibly hard, so it might not work, but just give it a try.
8 – Help from a friend
Having a good friend with good listening skills can be gold. Just ranting about what is bothering you, what scares you and what you are thinking can be incredibly helpful. If said friend actually has good listening skills, and in most cases, if the friend helps you come to your own conclusions yourself. I have discovered that most of my fears disappear fastest if I analyze them myself and get rid of them that way. More on that in the next part of this post.
9 – Lists
Okay, so I have discovered that I am getting super distracted, having too many things to do today (my lists are enormous), so instead of writing ALL 18 points, I will leave you halfway. Which is here. And which happens to also be how I discovered this. Lists. I use them all the time. I often only write them down, never coming back to them again, but it helps get the things and to do’s out of my mind, clearing it enough to be able to get on with it.
So, lists. Try it. When overwhelmed, write down what is going on in your mind. If the issue is too many things to do, there you go, now you have a clearer way of knowing where to start. If the issue is too many worries, you will find that many of them clear away after writing about it. There is so many uses for these, that you may just have to find out the rest on your own. You can do this!
Goodbye for now
So, leaving you to it again, which of the described techniques has helped you the most so far? Are any of these new to you? What are you hoping/expecting the next points will be in part 2? Please let us know!