In a previous post, I explained a bit about how I have experienced anxiety. Anxiety issues are incredibly common so here’s some things which might help you like they’ve helped me.
If you’re worried about specific things happening, write them down. Say, for example, you start fearing that your friends won’t show up to an event or that you might embarrass yourself. Write these worries down and really think about them. How likely are they to happen, what could you do to reduce this likelihood, what could you plan to do if it does happen. For some people, this might increase anxiety. For others, including me, it offers reassurance. It helps me to realise that a lot of my worries are unlikely to really happen, it allows me to realise that if they do happen, it will not be the end of the world.
Preparation for all potential scenarios can really help to reduce anxiety.
Talk to someone. Tell them how you are feeling, why you might be feeling like that. Listen to their reassurance, it can be calming hearing this from somebody else. It might also help if the other person experiences anxiety, knowing you are not alone in the heart racing and sweaty palms can be comforting.
Distractions can be helpful. I’m not suggesting that you ignore the root of your anxiety and do not address it. I am suggesting that sometimes when your thoughts are racing about something, it can be necessary to do an activity that slows those thoughts down or blocks them out. Anxiety can be exhausting, emotionally and physically. Taking some time to read a book or hang out with friends might give your mind and body a much needed rest. This will allow you to recharge before the anxiety potentially takes hold again.
Listening to music is something that I have found great comfort in, especially when in public. It can be particularly daunting when anxiety takes hold in public, it is very difficult to find a space where there is nobody around and you feel safe. For me, putting my head phones in helps to block everything else out. When everyone around me is rushing and my thoughts start going a million miles an hour, music at least enables me to shut everyone else out.
Practice mindfulness. You’ve probably heard about mindfulness at some point, it is becoming increasingly talked about in regards to mental health. Why? Because it works. If you can find the time to sit and do nothing but focus on your breathing for 5 minutes a day then that is a start. There’s lots of info online and books about it so give it a go if you can and see if it helps you.
As a last resort, talk to your doctor about medication. I’m not a huge fan of sedative type medicines but they have been really helpful in times of intense anxiety distress. Alternatively, beta blockers are commonly prescribed to ease the physical manifestations of anxiety. So you’ll be left with the thoughts but you won’t have to deal with the heart palpitations and such. This can be good because, well, it’s one less thing to worry about.
Experiencing anxiety is not easy to deal with but it is possible to live with if you learn how to manage it. Try different techniques in different situations until you find something that works for you. It is hard work but it is work that will let you live your life well despite anxiety trying to ruin things.
For more information about support with anxiety, have a look at Mind’s resources here. Share any of your advice on coping with anxiety, I am very open to trying new things!