Coping with Anxiety-A Practical, and Sometimes Silly Guide to Dealing with Crippling Anxiety

I have Anxiety. It isn’t a shocking fact, at least not to anyone who knows me really well. It isn’t even really an abnormal fact, since it seems that more and American adults are struggling with some form of depression, bi-polar, or anxiety. I have had pretty sever anxiety since I started high school, and it’s only gotten worse the more stress and responsibility I have in my life. I honestly think I’m going to have an ulcer someday since one of the symptoms of my minor everyday anxiety is acid reflux, and nausea. The big thing about living with anxiety when you are also someone who refuses to take medication, like I am, is finding ways to cope with anxiety so you can be a functioning member of society. I was talking to a friend recently who has just started dealing with this problem and I was forced tor really think about the little things I have come up with to handle my everyday anxiousness.

  1. I never go anywhere that I can’t leave whenever I want to
    1. If my friends want to go somewhere, I will almost always drive myself so I know that at any moment I can leave if I start to feel overwhelmed. I don’t leave early most of the time, but just the idea that I can leave allows me to enjoy social situations more. The truth is, if I let you drive me somewhere, I really trust and feel comfortable with you. That’s the nice thing about college, most things happen within 500 feet of my room.
  2. I have safe spaces
    1. I am very careful to make sure I have a space that I feel safe in wherever I happen to be. At school those places are my car, and my room. If you know me you know that my door is always unlocked, and that most times of the day, if I’m not in class or at work, I am sitting in my room, and that I am always happy to have visitors. This works really well because I get to see my friends, but I’m not anxious because I’m in a place I feel safe. My car is another place I feel comfortable. Often when I get worked up I will take a drive which helps me calm down.
  3. Crying is not a sign of weakness
    1. Holy Cow I can’t tell you how many times I cry during the week. And that may sound silly or weird, but in all honesty, it’s just a coping mechanism. Sometimes I just get so overwhelmed I don’t know what to do, so I cry. Crying helps release tension and emotion, and often ofter I cry for a few minutes I’m totally fine again. So don’t be afraid to. Who cares if other people think you’re silly or weak? It’s not their body or brain or emotions, it’s yours. Take care of yourself however you need to.
  4. I talk to my emotions like they are separate people
    1. Ok, so this is the slightly coping mechanism I use. I find that if I can personify my emotions and make them into little people (Pixar totally stole my idea) then I can handle them better. For instance, if I wake up feeling really sad, I might have a conversation like this while I get ready: “Now sadness, I know you are feeling a lot today, and that you just want to come to surface and express yourself, but I have a long day ahead of me where I need to interact with people and not be sad or crying. Can you just control yourself for five hours and then I’ll crawl back in bed and we can have a heart to heart?” I know it sounds crazy but it really helps me deal with my emotions if I can separate them from myself and make them something other than a part of me I can’t control.
  5. Incentive
    1. This is one of the most important ones in my opinion. When I am having a bad day I use personal incentive to keep me going. I often have things to do from 8am to midnight and if I can’t find a way to keep my self in check, I would never make it through. So I tell myself something like, “Ok, if you can get through all your classes, and eat a little something, then you can go take a nap until that meeting.” Or “If you can get through all the obligations you have today you can binge watch Netflix and worry about your paper tomorrow.” It is important to have something to strive for you’re likely to get pulled down by the weight of responsibility,
  6. The Room
    1. Lastly, and my personal favorite is The Room. This is something that happened on accident when I was trying to find a way out of insomnia without pill sin high school. I got an app on my phone, which Is till have to this day called Relax Melodies by Ipnos soft. It is basically an app with ambient sounds designed to help put you to sleep. Now I’m a person who usually needs complete silence to sleep, but I was getting desperate and so I thought why not go ahead and try it? After a lot of trial and error I finally found a combination that worked for me; soft rain, ocean waves, and wind chimes. It put me to sleep in no more than a half an hour every night, still does. Well after a few weeks I started to realize that as I fell asleep every night, I was imagining the same thing. It was a room. This room was little, and white, and consisted of a bed, a dresser, french doors, and a little window. I saw it exactly the same in amazing detail every night as I fell asleep. I started to understand that this was someplace  my subconscious has created for me to go to at night so I could sleep. The thing about the room is there has never been anyone or anything in it but me. It is a safe place for my mind to go at night where I don’t have to worry about the coming day or stress over a conversation or interaction from the day before. It was just a place of rest. As I have gotten older I have found I can conjure the room on my own. I simply put on my sounds and think, “You are in a little white room, there is a white bed with a wicker headboard. in front of you is a little white dresser with a mirror and little knickknacks like shells and bottles, there are french doors that open out onto the ocean, and above the doors is a little window that is open, that has wind chimes settled in it. You crawl into bed, and go to sleep.” And simple as that I’m off to sleep with no anxiety.

Now obviously I’m not saying that these things have cured me. They are just simple ways I deal with anxiety and stress, and they won’t work for all people. Everyone’s anxiety is unique to them and their life, but I thought maybe by sharing some of my tips, it might help someone who is struggling with no idea what to do.

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