This past year and few months have been a trying time for numerous people around the world. Whether physically, mentally, financially or emotionally, we have all been affected by this pandemic.
During this time it is important to take charge of our mental health. There are so many triggers for depression and anxiety right now including being isolated, loss of a loved one, illness, fear of losing a loved one, fear of deteriorating health or financial issues.
I thought now would be a good time to talk about dealing with anxiety and share a few tips that work for me when it comes to overcoming or dealing with anxiety.
The first time I realised that my anxiety was an issue for me, was years ago when I had my first panic attack at work. It was so random and unprovoked in my opinion at the time. It hit me out of the blue and it was one of the scariest experiences in the moment.
I was left wondering what was wrong with me. I noticed a change in my eating habit and my weight as well as my sleeping pattern. Some nights it took hours to settle down for bed because it felt my head was packed with thoughts and scenarios swimming in my head. I would replay every decision, every conversation and every action I did that day over and over again and scrutinize it rather than getting some much needed sleep.
It was only after someone suggested that I talk to a professional about it, I sort help and guidance for my anxiety. Years later and I still implement all the things I learned during that particularly rough time. Here are a few tips in dealing with anxiety.
The number one tip is to just breathe and release those feelings of anxiety. Practice taking deep breaths and slowing down your breathing….. Inhale 1..2..3..4..5.. Hold.. Exhale 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. Repeat. It may sound silly at first but trust me. The next time you feel the anxiety creeping up, stop what you’re doing, close your eyes and just breathe….
Practice mindfulness exercises or grounding techniques
Practicing mindfulness exercises or yoga or grounding techniques or even listening to music are great ways of dealing with anxiety. There are so many mindfulness exercises, types of yoga exercises and grounding techniques to choose from. Research them and choose a handful of your favorite to practice doing when the feeling of anxiety hits. One of my most used techniques is the 5-4-3-2-1 senses method. When I begin to feel anxious or overwhelmed, I stop what I’m doing, look around me and think of 5 things I can see, 4 things I can feel, 3 things I can hear, 2 things I can smell and 1 thing I can taste as well as 1 feeling I’m currently feeling. All of this is done while actively slowing down my breathing.
Make time for self care
What’s your idea of self care? Chilling on the couch and binge-watching Netflix with a wine glass in hand? Doing your haircare and skincare routine? Reading a book on your bed? Taking a much needed nap? You need to make time for what makes you happy and helps you de-stress. You can’t pour from an empty cup, learn to refill it from time to time.
Write down your thoughts and feelings
Writing down how you feel and what you’re thinking can help unscramble your thoughts and aid in deciphering those complex and jumbled emotions in your head. It is a good way of helping you identify what your triggers are. Sometimes you’re not even sure why you are feeling the way you are feeling but writing about it can reveal any underlying issues that may be contributing to it. A bit of insight goes a long way.
Accept that you can’t control everything
This one is super important. Worrying about the future and running a million scenarios in your head does not change or impact the future in any way. It just takes up your present time and steals your joy in the moment over something that may or may not happen in the future. Similarly, ruminating and replaying past moments and events does not change the past in anyway. Once again all it does is take up your present time and steal your joy in this present moment. Learn to live in the moment and not in the past or your ‘what-if’ future.
Stay clear of negative thoughts
This is easier said than done as I know that negative thoughts tend to creep up on you out of the blue. Learn to shut them down from early and replace them with positive thoughts. Think about something good that happened today. Think about something that you are grateful for. Think about something that makes you happy and hold on to those positive thoughts.
Seek help and talk about it
And last but not least, Seek Help if it is becoming overwhelming. Talk to a close friend or family member that you trust, pray to God, join a support group and/or find a therapist or psychologist. Talking about your anxiety issues and the cause of it is very helpful in dealing with the anxiety. You don’t have to suffer alone, there are many people feeling the way you’re feeling and who understand what you’re going through. Don’t bottle everything up until it eats at you, it will just make matters worse. Seek the help that you need.