Tips on Managing Anxiety
Meaghan O. is a Heartman Ambassador and works in the mental health field in San Francsico. She is currently working towards getting her MA in Education with a concentration in Equity and Social Justice. These are her tips for managing anxiety.
At some point in one’s life you will experience some form of anxiety and in all honesty, it can be hard as hell to manage. Full disclosure, I live with massive anxiety and have been navigating how to do so for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I didn’t realize what I was managing, I thought I was just a “nervous” person and that was that. WRONG. Queue anxiety. After I was officially diagnosed with an anxiety condition in high school, I began my conscious journey into managing my anxiety on the daily.
My managing tips change literally all the time, however, there is one thing that is ever consistent, which is listening to my body. Listening to what soothes my body’s need, what makes me worried, or nervous, etc. There has been a lot of pushback with myself overtime on this, but through trial and error, I now have copious amounts of tools that will allow me to be the best I can be in that moment. Below are just a few of the things that I am doing right now in order to manage my anxiety and overall well-being:
I make multiple lists for different things I am working on throughout a week. School, programs at work, chores at home, grocery lists. You name it; I have a list for that.
This helps me with managing my time and resources and also allows me to not hyper-focus on one particular task I need to complete because I actually have a million other things going on that need just as much attention.
Drink Cold Water
Sensory things really help me feel my body working. This grounding tool helps me to focus on one simple thing such as, cold water running down my throat, into my stomach, you get it.
Talk to My Mom (or have someone else to talk to)
I talk to my mom at least once a day, whether it’s just to say hi really quick or to ask her questions about how to do adult things.
If my mom is unavailable, I have my close friends and other family members.
If I was someone who isn’t close to their family or who doesn’t have many friends, I would call warm lines (I used to work on one), use technology-based programs like 7 Cups of Tea and create a sense of connection there.
Exchanging tips and tricks with a confidant on how to work with your anxiety instead of against it, can allow for broadening of perspectives and even some new tools for tool kit.
Staying Connected with Loved Ones
This one can be a challenging one for me when I am not feeling my best. Life gets so fast-paced at times; I forget to respond to people or don’t put in as much as an effort because I think they will always be willing and able to support me on a whims notice. However, from what I have learned, taking that extra step to respond to that friend (no matter if it’s two weeks later), reaching out to your sibling for the fifth time, or finally responding to your Grandma’s e-mail, putting in effort into whatever relationships are important in your life, goes a long way. Nine times out of ten, I realize how much better I feel after talking to them and it gives me a sense of security that I am not in this alone. Making sure my support system feels supported by me (can you tell I am an empath?), even when I am not doing that great, I know that I have people to keep me afloat.
Walking My Dog
Basically getting outside, not focusing on technology, and focusing on my surroundings gives me a sense of ease and clarity.
Taking time for yourself and only yourself is not selfish, it’s self-care and it’s necessary in order to learn what works for you and your needs.
It’s cliché, I know, but there’s something extremely cathartic about writing your feelings down in a book (particularly negative feelings) and when finished, closing the book and releasing those negative feelings is revitalizing.
ournaling is also a great way to track your anxious feelings in order to weed out things that could be contributing to these encroaching feelings or to find things that could enhance your wellbeing.
Being honesty with yourself and acknowledging these at times, crippling feelings that anxiety brews within us, is a source of power that should be used to empower yourself. Recognizing when you don’t feel your best can make you feel vulnerable to say the least. However, when you implement things that make you feel good (i.e. exercise, organizing your desk, going that that trip you always wanted to, indulging on that overpriced smoothie you just had to have), it allows you to be in control of your body, not your anxiety controlling you. Your mind is extremely powerful, but so is your ability to persevere and live a meaningful life while managing anxiety.
Words: Meaghan O.