Confession: I had an entirely different post written, but I deleted it. I deleted it because I was writing and writing and writing, and nothing was coming out the way I wanted it to, and it felt preachy and impersonal. And what is a post about anxiety if not personal, right? So I took a deep breath, contemplated the anxiety I felt about writing this post, and the anxiety I felt about the anxiety I felt about writing this post (yes, anxiety about anxiety- it's a thing), and started a new post. So, here we are.
I've written about my anxiety before, but if you have anxiety, you know that it ebbs and flows and changes with you as you grow. You find new ways of coping, and the old ways may not be as effective anymore. So I wanted to write about it again. Because it's important and it's normal. That's the thing: anxiety is completely normal, but there is such a stigma surrounding mental illness/health that it's hard to talk about sometimes. Well, I'm here, and I'm talking about it.
Hi, my name is Rebecca, and I have anxiety.
I was inspired to write this post because quite a few of my close friends have come to me recently for advice in dealing with their own anxiety. Since I've dealt with it my WHOLE LIFE, I've become pretty good at talking about it and helping others who might not know what the hell is going on in their heads.
The thing is, anxiety has a way of making it seem that the things you are worrying about are not just in your head. How could they possibly be just in your head when your palms are sweaty, your breath is shallow, and your heart is racing at the very thought of whatever you're anxious about? It has to be real, right? Wrong. But your mind does a great job of convincing you that this horrible thing you're fixated on is definitely going to happen.
Over the years, I've gone to countless therapy appointments, read what feels like millions of articles, and taken antidepressants to manage my anxiety. Some things work, and some things definitely don't, and one thing I know for a fact is that talking about managing anxiety is a hell of a lot easier than actually doing it when you're in the thick of it. But I have found a few things that help me even during my most anxious moments, and I want to share them with you because maybe you'll find them helpful, too.
One thing I find helpful when I'm anxious is to repeat a few different mantras out loud. I find that just the act of saying these phrases out loud distracts from my anxiety and forces me to focus on rational thoughts rather than the irrational ones in my head.
Three Mantras to Repeat When You’re Feeling Anxious
This Is Anxiety
I've found that sometimes the best thing to do when I'm feeling anxious is to acknowledge that what I'm feeling is, in fact, anxiety. This helps because it removes much of the pressure I feel about whatever I'm anxious about. To observe that what I'm feeling is anxiety without judgment and just to let it be is freeing. One thing I notice with my friends who suffer from anxiety is that they tend to beat themselves up over it. They're anxious about being anxious (which, as I mentioned above, is a very real thing.) I used to do this, too, but I eventually learned that the act of accepting that you have anxiety (and that it's OK) and that your thoughts might not be rooted in any actual proof or logic is really helpful, which brings me to my next favorite mantra.
Don't Believe Everything You Think
THIS! This mantra has gotten me through some of my worst anxiety. I don't remember where I first read it, but I remember feeling something click when I did. It just makes so much sense, and the thing about anxiety is that a lot of times, it doesn't make any sense. The things your brain comes up with are sometimes SO COMPLETELY ABSURD, and the scenarios in your head seem like real possibilities. For the most part, though, they're not. When I find myself spiraling and believing the made-up situations in my head, I stop, take a deep breath, and ask myself, "What proof do I have that what I'm freaking out about is going to happen?" Usually, it's none. Usually, my anxiety isn't based on anything real. But, for the rare occasions when the things I'm anxious about are an actual possibility, I rely heavily on the next mantra.
Worrying Will Never Change The Outcome
It absolutely won't. Worrying will never, ever, ever affect the outcome of whatever it is you're worried about. Similarly, most of the things I worry about never end up happening. It's constructive to reflect on all the time I've wasted worrying about something that never came to fruition. I know this is a lot easier said than done. I am a chronic worrier, but it is beneficial to keep this mantra in mind.
Now that I've talked about my favorite mantras, I want to very briefly tell you about a few tangible/action-oriented techniques I've used to deal with my anxiety.
Three Tangible Techniques to Deal With Anxiety
I know, I know. If you have anxiety, hearing that deep breathing will help is nothing new. The thing is, it works, especially for the heart-racing, hyperventilating type of anxiety. A really helpful activity I learned in a yoga workshop once is to count backward from 25 (or ten if 25 seems too much). Each deep inhale and exhale counts as one breath. It's just true that when you're focused on your breath, you're not focused on what it is you're feeling anxious about.
Talk it Out
Seeking help is nothing to feel ashamed of. Whether you talk to a therapist, an Internet forum, or a close friend is entirely up to you. Anxiety can be very isolating. It's very easy to feel like you're the only one in the world who has ever felt how you're feeling. I can 100 percent guarantee you you're not alone. The simple act of talking about what you're anxious about can and will make you feel better.
Practice Self Care
Whatever that means to you: going to yoga class, drinking tea, taking a bath, etc. Remember, anxiety is completely normal, but we tend to beat ourselves over it and become anxious about our anxiety. In these cases, it's always best to just be gentle with yourself.
One of my favorite things to do when I'm anxious is take a hot shower. I use this shower mist* sometimes when I need help feeling grounded. The oils diffuse with the steam and immediately fill your bathroom with a relaxing lavender and coriander seed scent. Since buying it last year, I've gifted it to many of my friends who suffer from anxiety. Though it's a little pricy, it is a concentrated spray, so you only need to use a little bit, and it lasts a long time. Whenever I'm feeling anxious, I take a shower and use this spray. It ALWAYS helps.
*Not an affiliate link.
I hope these tips have been helpful to you. At the very least, I hope this post has shown you that you're not alone.
As always, thank you for reading!