Anxiety and recent events
According to Anxiety.org, anxiety disorders reflect disorders that share a general feature of excessive fear (i.e. emotional response to perceived or real threat) and/or anxiety (i.e. anticipation of future threat) and demonstrate behavioral and functional disturbances as a result1.
It’s unfortunate that some celebrities have taken their own lives, although it has opened up dialogues about mental health
My anxiety story
Anxiety manifests differently in each individual. People with it have different reasons how or why their anxiety started.
My anxiety started I was 10 or maybe earlier. I had a really bad social phobia. My dad expressed his concerns to my mom about my lack of desire to go outside because I was staying in the house all the time except for school. During that time, I didn’t feel I was safe around people; my mental outlook was that the outside world was filled with dangerous people. I wanted to stay inside the house where it felt safe, comfortable and familiar.
Even in my 20’s, my anxiety was still prevalent. I would cancel events I was invited to at the last minute because my panic attacks were out of control. I had breakdowns when I was in college doing presentations. I stayed away from large crowds. The list goes on.
Over the past few years, my anxiety has lessened but I still have anxiety kicks every now and then. It can be frustrating at times. I’ve learned to keep it at bay.
Here are 15 ways to manage anxiety
1. Breathing exercise
Breathing exercise has been my number one go-to anxiety reliever. I can do this whenever I’m in public or in the privacy of my own home.
To do the breathing exercise, inhale until you feel your belly is full with air that you can’t inhale any longer. Hold the air in there for 5 seconds. Then gently exhale all of the air out of your body and wait for another 5 seconds before repeating the process again. It’s basically breathing in slowly and in a controlled way.
Write down all your feelings and what happened. Journaling is very therapeutic and it is good to reflect on what triggered your anxiety.
When I was in middle school and high school, I was journaling. I didn’t know that it was helpful for my mental health. It had helped me get my feelings out and not bottled in.
3. Take time out
When anxiety strikes, it doesn’t care whether you’re at home or in public. When you’re in a public space, it’s okay to take some time out. You can say you need to go to the restroom or get something from the car or grab some water to get some space.
Last year, I was once at a pool party with my husband and the house was packed with people in their twenties and thirties. I was fine for a while, but later I was overwhelmed. I told my husband that I was going to be by myself for a bit. At times, I fear what people will think of me when I excuse myself in those situations. But I realized that I need to take care of me first instead of worrying what others think.
Praying is a great tool in helping ease anxiety. Prayer is a way to connect with God and take your eyes away from your situation by focusing on God.
There have been many times when I prayed for God to help me with my anxiety. Sometimes a change happens shortly after I pray or sometimes it takes a longer process.
According to Research Gate, meditation is known to help reduce the symptoms of anxiety. It lets you focus on being present and away from your anxiety.
In the past few years, meditation has been a big part of my life. Whenever I feel anxiety and the breathing exercise hasn’t helped, I meditate. It has kept my anxiety at bay.
Words are powerful. What you say and think is your reality. Affirmations are not magic pills. It doesn’t instantaneously make you feel better or change everything around you. Rather, when you do affirmations daily it reprograms your brain as a result changes your actions.
Whenever I feel like I don’t have control over my anxiety or actions, I say affirmations to help me regain my senses and the right perspective. Sometimes I have to repeat a few affirmations to let it permeate deep in my heart and mind.
7. Talk to a friend or partner
Sharing about your anxiety can be unnerving. Share your experience with whom you trust. Letting it out can not only help them understand your situation but also make you feel less alone.
For most of my life, I rarely talk to anyone about my anxiety. It was an extremely lonely place to be. On the exterior, I looked happy but inside I was dying. It wasn’t until I met my husband when I fully shared my anxiety
8. Talk to a professional
There are some stigma around going to therapists, but it doesn’t take away the fact that they work. Therapists are professionals who are meant to help you dealing with issues like anxiety.
In my 20’s, I would rather talk to therapists than talk to my friends about my anxiety because I didn’t want to be rejected after opening up. I felt more comfortable telling a therapist about my issues because I knew they were there to help me.
9. Listen to music
Listening to relaxing music will help improve your mood especially if you’ve been filled with anxiety. Your preferred music streaming app (Spotify, Pandora or even Youtube) should have different playlists available depending on your music taste.
I typically listen to Christian music when I need to feel less anxious. For me, this is where I feel safe and comforted on stormy days. I would recommend creating your own playlist when you don’t feel anxious to prepare you for rainy days.
10. Shift your thinking
Instead of thinking about how you’re having a panic attack, shift to how you view your anxiety. For example, the sensations you get from anxiety can make you feel uncomfortable. Alternatively, think of those sensations as excitement exuding out of you. It may sound silly, but thinking about your anxiety is a different light can help you gain more control of it.
Usually when I’m going to a new environment (aka events and parties), I stop myself from going due to the crippling feeling I get from anxiety. A few weeks ago, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and signed up for an event to go to by myself. This time around, I told myself that I was excited to go at the beginning of the day way before my anxiety began. This started my day and mindset off right.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, exercise help relieves anxiety. Not only that, exercise improves the mood and help you get in better shape.I haven’t been exercising much lately because I’ve been lazy (just bein’ real). But one thing that has helped me is going for a walk. Whenever I’ve been stressed and full of anxiety, I get up and go for a walk even if it’s just 10-15 minutes. Usually after that walk, my mood is better.
12. Drink tea
Drink a calming tea like chamomile will let you feel more relaxed. Don’t consume caffeinated drinks and teas as they will cause your anxiety worse.
My favorite tea to drink is Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile. I love the taste of this tea!!! It soothes my mind and body especially on days I feel distressed.
13. Coloring book
Do you remember coloring a color book when you’re young? Now, there have been a lot of adult coloring books in the market! These coloring books can help you be a kid again and be in a state of relaxation.
14. Bubble bath
Taking a shower or bubble bath is very relaxing. It is a time for yourself to enjoy and be at peace. Indulge in a few bath bombs/gels and put on some music on and let your mind and body be at ease.
I personally haven’t done a bubble bath myself (I know, where have I been living all these years?!), but I plan on doing that this weekend so I’m pretty excited! I would suggest combining a few of these other tools during your bath time like drinking chamomile tea and listening to relaxing music while lighting up a candle.
15. Be patient
Last, but certainly not the least, be patient with yourself. Doing any or all these won’t be an overnight success. You need to take it one day at a time and celebrate your victories. Some days it will work and others days it won’t. When it doesn’t work, don’t give up completely but understand why it didn’t work and what you can do better next time.
I hope this list of tools has given you ideas on how to manage your anxiety better. Try one or two or all of them and see what sticks with you. It’s always good to have tools handy for future instances. I believe in you and I’m rooting for you!
Related blog posts:
- My Battle with Anxiety and Depression (and what has helped)
- 20 Pieces of Advice I Would Give to My 20-Year-Old Self
- How to Stay Motivated while in a Funk