Excited as I was to have a mini-break with my sister, I found the familiar self-doubting thoughts at the front of my mind. How will I feel when I have to leave home in the morning? How can I travel outside of my usual support structure? Can I even do this?
To give myself some credit, this episode of anxiety was definitely not as severe as previous ones have been. It’s rewarding to be able to deal with these feelings and thoughts in a more measured way, but putting those coping mechanisms into play can be almost as exhausting as the anxiety itself. I found myself wrestling a little with myself as I tried to rationalise and vocalise what was going on in my head.
Everyone handles mental health struggles differently; far be it from me to dictate what one should do to cure one’s troubles. These are simply a few suggestions and pointers on how I personally cope when anxiety rears its unwelcome head. Please feel free to add your own in the comments:
1// Watch ASMR videos
I’ve written before about how helpful I find ASMR in relieving the physical effects of anxiety. I really find the knot in my stomach loosening and the feeling of sadness lifting as I lie in bed, earphones in, drifting off to the sound of my favourite ASMRtist’s voice. With so many artists, and countless role plays, recitals and ramblings to choose from, you will be sure to find something that suits your needs.
2// Talk to a trusted person
Whether they are your partner, a parent, a therapist, a close friend or a buddy behind your computer screen, thousands of miles away, try to find someone you can trust and talk to when anxiety flares up. I truly believe that articulating your feelings and letting that one person in on what you’re going through, alleviates some of the loneliness and turmoil that anxiety can bring with it. Oftentimes, just saying it out loud helps me feel instantly a little bit better.
3// Have an exit plan
Try to remember that in many of the situations that might make you feel anxious, you do retain some control over how things pan out. Remembering that I can remove myself from an anxiety-inducing situation anytime really helps me feel more at ease. Ultimately, you are your own person and sometimes you need to do what’s best for your own well being. If a side effect of this is that someone else feels let down, then it’s a necessary consequence.
4//Have an outlet
Where would I be without creative outlets? In much the same state, I’d imagine, but having some means of enjoyable distraction helps greatly. By writing about my anxiety, I feel like I’m making something positive out of it. An outlet can take varying forms, though – running, engaging with nature, volunteering with people, keeping a pet, gardening, collecting something and collaging are all alternatives to my personal outlet (writing, of course) that I’d recommend trying.
5// Let the anxiety in
Recently, I found myself musing over whether my anxiety is part of who I am, or more of an outside force. Which is worse, which more manageable? Either way, I think it’s important to acknowledge when you’re being affected by anxiety. In my experience, burying my feelings and pretending to myself that everything is, and will be, fine gets me nowhere. Sometimes, you just have to let the feelings in – whether they’re part of your being or a foreign force, letting them in ultimately gives you some control over how you’re going to overcome them.
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With so many people contending with mental health issues today, I think it’s really important to develop personal coping mechanisms to help you feel safer and more at ease as you navigate the difficult waters of an affliction like anxiety. These are mine. If you have your own, do add them to the comments below!