The battle against anxiety is real. If your reading this I am assuming you have probably experienced anxiety at some point in your life. Maybe you are fortunate enough that you have never had to experience a full on anxiety attack, but in today’s fast paced day world even those of us who aren't genetically predisposed to an anxiety disorder find ourselves stressed to the max trying to balance it all.
I have been battling anxiety for most of my life. I have worked hard to find effective ways to manage it yet there are still times that seem more challenging then others when it comes to keeping myself from spiraling out of control. The past few weeks have been particularly trying for me. I am currently experiencing massive changes in my life all at one time. As excited and trilled as I am to be pursuing my dreams I am also scared shitless. Add on to the scenario that change is a major trigger of anxiety for me and you can imagine the battle I have been in to keep myself on track. In dealing with my anxiety problems for all these years I have developed strategies that have enabled me to better handle these trying moments and avoid spiraling out of control and ending up with a full blown panic attack. I am sharing with you some of my strategies as they have been my life line and I hope they can be a benefit you in times of stress.
Write It Out
The power of writing it is two fold:
If you are unaware of what your triggers are, the practice of keeping a daily journal allows you to more easily identify the patterns in your life that continuously proceed your highest periods of anxiety. The sooner you identify these triggers the sooner you will be able to strategize around them. Don’t get all up in your head about journaling. If you sit down thinking that your words describing your day need to flow out onto the page like poetry then nothing is ever going to come out of you. More often then not, especially when you first sit down to write, you will sit down with no clue as to what is going to come out. The trick is I sit down anyways and I write anything that comes to mind even if it is total nonsense. Your goal here has nothing to do with being the next pulitzer prize writer so STOP JUDGING YOUR WORDS and just let your feelings come out!
My journal is my place to declutter my mind. The more anxious I get the more my thoughts begin to spin in my head. I Ioose focus as my attention darts from one thought to the next. If I am unable to refocus myself I begin to spin towards that next level of F*cked up panic about having a panic attack. I laugh at myself now as I am not in one but I have been there and it royally sucks. One of my go to strategies has become using my journal as a place where I can make list to tackle one goal or task at a time. When I was in the throws of a panic attack my mother would always remind me, “You can’t tackle thebig picture all at once, you have to break it down and tackle one little piece at a time,” My journal helps me keep focused by serving as a written reminder, drawing my attention back to the task at hand rather then allowing myself to be distracted by what else lies ahead.
Develop A Healthy Habit
Keyword HEALTHY. There are many dirty little habits that people use to manage stress in their lives but generally these cooping mechanisim only induce more stress. I will use my own little dirty habit as a prime example.Though I hate admitting, for a bit of time I was a smoker. At the height of my smokingI was ripping through a pack of cigerettes a day. I was back in school over loaded with stress and convinced that I needed to have that cigarette in order to hold onto my sanity. The reality is the only stress I was alleviating when I stepped outside to have a cigarette was the stress caused from nicotine withdraw. I do feel that one of the things that smoking actually provided was a pause in life. A moment to step away from whatever project I was spending hours on in the studio. I eventually came to my senses and realized I can still take those steps away minus the cigarette and plus the actual fresh air in my lungs. So now when I work I set a timer for myself to periodically stop and take five minuets to walk away and take a few breaths. The pause in my work keeps my form getting frustrated especially when I find myself struggling with a creative blog.
A Quick Breathing Technique To Help You Calm Down
This breathing technique is a very relaxing method and can be used as a quick stress reliever.
Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Place your right hand over your heart, and place your left hand over your abdomen, just below your belly button. Rest your hands lightly, not firmly. You may reverse the position of your hands if you prefer.
Take a slow deep breath and concentrating on feeling the breath entering and filling you as you inhale. First, feel your right hand over your heart, rising as yourÂ chest fills with breath, then feel your left hand, over your abdomen, rising as the breath fills your abdomen.
As you exhale slowly, feel your left hand sinking as the breath leaves your abdomen. Feel your right hand moving as the breath passes again through your chest.
Continue to breathe this way for several minutes.
As an addition to this method, try paying attention to your heartbeat beneath your hand while you perform this breathing technique. Notice how it gradually slows as your body becomes more relaxed.
Meditation and Exercise
In my opinion two of the best healthy habits you can adopt if you struggle with anxiety is meditation and exercise. Meditation is not easy and I won’t even pretend to tell you that it is. It is even harder when your in the throws of an anxiety attack with your thoughts racing at light speed. With time and practice meditation does become easier. A daily practice will enable you to more successfully control your stress levels. Remember it takes time and the first few times you sit down to meditate will be extremely difficult. Don’t beat yourself up and just commit to sitting even if for just five minuets a day to start. There are many great meditation apps out there that you can utilize to help you cultivate this new practice. Check out Calm or Buddhify, both apps offer useful techniques for both those who are new to the meditation game and experienced practitioners alike.
Exercise! We have all heard it countless times before, Exercise is a basically natural prozac. But more often then not when people get stuck in a rut and/or are over come with anxiety they completely discount how effective a tool exercise is for turning their mind frame around. Here are three other ways exercise works to help you manage your stress
- Unused EnergyOne of the most frequently cited reasons for anxiety is unused energy. Your body was made to move, and unfortunately when it doesn't move it creates tension. We see this actually with dogs often - dogs that don't get their daily walks often become anxious and high strung, because if they don't work out their energy, that energy turns first into physical tension, and then into mental tension.
- Increased Stress HormoneWhen you feel stress, your body releases a hormone known as cortisol. There's evidence that movement is what depletes cortisol, bringing it back to normal levels. This makes sense, because anxiety itself is the "fight or flight" system. When your body experiences it, it expects you to fight or flight. Inactivity is essentially doing nothing, and that may cause your body to start misfiring your stress and anxiety hormones.
- Immune System MalfunctionExercise is also necessary for a regulated immune system, as well as maintaining a healthy hormone balance. There's reason to believe that inactivity prevents these important things from occurring.
- (The Calm Clinic)
The best thing I've done is not allow myself to break my workout routine. I have made a pack with myself and unless I am deathly ill a hard sweat is a requirement I must fulfill a least 4x a week. I know when your in a funk and spinning it is hard to get yourself up and actually motivate to work out, but even if it is just going outside and taking a short walk in the sun you just have to make the first moves towards breaking the cycle. A great tool to get your ass up and going when your down is employing the help of a workout buddy. Make a pack with a friend and schedule gym dates. You are less likely to skip out on your workouts after a long day when someone else is counting on you.