Anxiety is an interesting person I have in my life. They shake me like a kid with a rattle, whiten my mind with ambivalent thoughts, and nauseate me stronger than cheap perfume. I’ve come to welcome its surprising visits, yet always wish they would catch the train at 2. The fortunate case is I know I’m not alone.
With a disorder that has such a common occurrence, it’s amazing people still struggle to find a solution. Finding what works for you may not exactly work for another. Some may be responsive to medication, while others thrive off of regrouping via their breath. Coming from someone who’s tried it all, here are a few things I did to make my anxiety more manageable.
The first thing was deleting every conversation I had on my phone. This ensured I had no chance of going back to them and overthinking. Unless the conversation had something sustainably important like a wedding date or homework questions, I deleted it. If it was a direct message through Instagram, it would be gone within the hour. Deleting text messages hindered me from becoming obsessive over my responses and that of others.
Next was meditation. I know I know, I’m the five hundredth person to tell you about the infamous practice. But that’s simply what it is — a practice. It’s a way to quiet your mind through focusing on your breath. Take baby steps and try to meditate for five to ten minutes. Even if you spend the entire time thinking, that is the point. The point is practicing to keep intrusive and random thoughts out of your head in times where you should be present. Meditation helped me achieve complete concentration by living in the moment.
In times of distress, breathing exercises and dipping my face in cold water worked wonders. Scientifically, splashing cold water on yourself “shocks your system” making you turn your attention elsewhere, even if it’s just for a few seconds. Having a sustained breath can slow down your sympathetic — the “fight or flight” — response your body is having in triggered moments. A simple deep inhale and exhale will change your life.
Lastly, I wrote down the slightest things which triggered some sort of anxiety in my body. It taught me how to better approach situations. I also talked to myself a lot and played out scenarios in my head to prepare me for the worst, since there are moments in life you can’t avoid. At times, I felt like I was crawling out of my skin, but I was better equipped when an opportunity presented itself.
Having an anxiety disorder is not something to be taken lightly. We all struggle in our own ways, whether it’s a minor ache in your chest every day or a howling screech during a panic attack. We all feel pain and anguishing confusion to some capacity. Find what works for you, and don’t be defeated if you fail; it’s inevitable and getting out of the house every day is a tremendous accomplishment in and of itself.