Anxiety is something that most people are familiar with. Weather it be pre assessment anxiety, or anxiety at trying something new, or on the other end of the scale maybe you experience full blown anxiety, like social or general. Whatever your experience with anxiety,it is no secret feeling anxious is no pleasant feeling. Sometimes it is just uncomfortable, but sometimes it can get to the point where it is debilitating, and really can impact your life. There is no quick fix to anxiety despite what social media these days will have you believe- I know I am not alone in the fact I despise nothing more than this whole ‘ take a bath and your anxiety will be fixed’ idea. Anyone who suffers with anxiety knows this is far from the truth, and this is why this post is titled how I MANAGE my anxiety, not solve it! You can’t solve your anxiety, there is no quick fix, but there are processes you can take to help reduce it, make it more manageable, and make it feel less overwhelming. Please remember there is no alternative to a professionals help, so if you are really struggling please contact a medical professional!
Lets start by diving into what anxiety is, because the word is thrown around a lot but you may not be familiar with what anxiety is in medical terms. I do not study science so this may sound unprofessional and badly written but this is my best take on what I have read. Anxiety is adrenaline in your body, and whilst adrenaline can be a good thing sometimes ( because it triggers your fight or flight to protect you) too much of it at the wrong moment can leave your body ready to face a threat that realistically doesn’t exist. When you are anxious your body can produce a variety of different symptoms, from sickness to shaking, to your heart feeling like it is about to leap out your chest, or it could even just be an underlying feeling in your chest, a sort of tightness and heat. Any of these symptoms are horrible to experience and it can get to the point where you can do nothing else but focus on these symptoms, for me sometimes my heart beats so fast I struggle to breathe because I can’t catch up. Everyone has a different experience of it, and whilst you cannot turn a switch and kill these symptoms, there are some things I’ve found help calm me down and reduce my anxiety in my day to day life.
A large part of my anxiety is based around the build up to things. For example if there is an event I am worried about the next day, my anxiety will build up the night before which will stop me sleeping which makes me more jittery in the morning! It’s a vicious circle, but I’m not about to tell you to try and sleep better to manage your anxiety because, whilst sleep can make anxiety more manageable, when you are on the verge of a panic attack sleep is the last thing on your mind, and nothing can change that. I’d love to develop some sort of ritual to help me calm down and sleep in these times, but I’m not there yet! What I’ve found helps me manage my build up anxiety is lists! I know you’re already rolling your eyes and about to click off but let me explain. Alot of my anxiety centers around my control, and if I anticipate lack of control in a situation, and whilst the best thing to do for the long term would be to work on my control issues, that isn’t what helps me in the moment. In these situations I try to make the situation as controlled as possible, to the point where I have everything I could possibly have under control. I accept the fact I cannot control everything, but it helps knowing I’ve covered all the possible issues from my end. For example, the night before I went back to college last week I made a list of everything I needed to make sure I bought with me and planned out my next day, I checked bus times, I put my calculator in my bag, I made sure I knew what lunch I was going to make, I covered all my bases. This made me feel more at peace than I thought it would! Once I was satisfied everything I could control was covered, I focused on letting go and realising I’d done everything I could do. I find little lists help me feel more grounded and make it easier to tackle the thing I am worried about, though of course they don’t alleviate all anxiety!
Another thing I’ve started doing that really helps me is a certain type of journaling. This isn’t as basic as you’re thinking I promise, as I know you probably cannot read a post about anxiety without detailing of journaling, and I understand it is not for everyone! This technique I use doesn’t have to be journaled, you could say it out loud or just think through it. I pick the situation I am worried about and I do a quick worst case scenario analysis. Often, the worst case scenario isn’t that bad, and it helps me realise my brain has exaggerated the ‘threat’ by a large amount, but this quick thought process can help me realise I’ve got nothing to fear. If the worst case scenario turns out to be really bad, I’ll often journal on it for abit and work out how I would deal with that situation. If I’m prepared for the worst case scenario ( which, let’s face it, never ACTUALLY happens) then I am prepared for whatever happens! I’ve found this one particularly useful in the past few weeks, I’ve been using it a lot to help me tackle everyday life. Once you break your fear down to the core, it isn’t as scary anymore!
This is kind of like the first one but I use them as different techniques. If a day/event, or even something I’m worried about is overwhelming, I like to use an action plan! It sounds funny I know but they are 2-5 steps that I can take to reduce the stress of the thing, as breaking up overwhelming worries can be really helpful. I’ll give a few different examples so you can see how I use this in different areas of my life. Say I had an event coming up that was making me anxious, I’d think about the steps I could take to reduce the anxiety. The steps could be something like: 1. plan outfit ( reduce any extra worry on the day) 2. plan what I need to bring 3. plan transport there and back 4. plan exit in case I needed to leave 5. do some yoga/ meditation before hand to try and make me as calm as possible. That wasn’t the best example but essentially it is splitting it into steps to increase your control over it and to help you feel more grounded. Another example, say you are anxious about having to make a speech in front of your class ( even the mention of it makes me feel bad hahah) you could make an action plan to make sure you remain calm, practice and prepare to try and reduce anxiety as much as possible. I say as much as possible as I know these little steps you’ve planned out won’t completely take away the anxiety- that isn’t the aim, the aim is to make it more manageable.
So that was a few different ways I manage my anxiety on a day to day basis. Anxiety is a very personal thing and something that works for one person may not work for another, but if your anxiety is based around control ( like some of mine is) these techniques might really help. I feel like this was a really personal post, something I haven’t really done yet on this blog, so I hope you found it relatable and maybe you have taken something away from this. Even if you just takeaway the fact that you aren’t alone in worrying about little things and having anxiety.
Thanks for reading, let me know your experience with anxiety in the comments, how do you deal with it?