This post is going to be a few tips and tricks that I have found useful for coping with anxiety.
A few years ago I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), which in layman’s terms means everything and anything gives me anxiety. Every day with anxiety is a constant struggle. Tasks that people take for granted are unbearably difficult for me, and many others who suffer with anxiety or mental illness, for example I have not driven anywhere further than a few kilometers in almost 2 years because driving often causes me undo worry and stress.
Sometimes people without anxiety or other mental illness have a hard time understanding why – Why you can’t go out to a party with tons of people, Why you can’t deal with a stressful situation, why you can’t get out of bed and my personal favorite Why don’t you just stop worrying about it?. Let me explain why I DESPISE when people tell me to not worry about something. If I was able to “Just not worry about it” I would! Matter-of-factly I would love to just not worry about every single thing. Unfortunately that is not the way my brain likes to run things, it likes to worry and stress about every minute detail of my waking life. With all this being said, I have been able to find a few things that help me cope with my GAD. I hope that by sharing a few of these I am able to help someone else who may be struggling.
Hypnosis – I have heard from many people that Meditation can be helpful in coping with the symptoms of anxiety. I always liked the thought of meditation but I was never able to fully concentrate and clear my mind. I am, however, a huge fan of hypnosis. You do not even need to venture out of your house for this one. There are a number of videos on YouTube for anxiety hypnosis. They range in time from 20 minutes to well over an hour. I find that taking at least 20 minutes out of your day to lay down and listen to the hypnosis tracks really help. This is one of my favorite you tubers who does hypnosis, he does a number of videos for everything from anxiety to social phobia. Check him out here – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUh6k9ReBf1GTLCHRHDI2pw
Read About it – When I was first diagnosed with GAD I wanted to know as much as I possibly could about the disorder and how it could be treated. The first thing I did was go out a buy a book about GAD – The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Work Book By Melisa Robichaud, PhD and Michel J. Dugas, PhD. I found this book to be extremely helpful in understanding what I was going through. It also contains activities that you can work through to help you better understand and target your anxiety. I would strongly recommend this book. You can buy the book here – https://www.amazon.ca/Generalized-Anxiety-Disorder-Workbook-Comprehensive/dp/1626251517
The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique – This technique is particularly effective in times of high stress or during panic attacks. It involves placing the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth against your front teeth, breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds and exhaling through your mouth for 8 seconds. This should be repeated about 4 times, and should provide some relief. I have done this technique numerous times, and although it is not fool-proof it does help.
Five-Four-Three-Two-One Coping Technique – This one is for when you’re having an anxiety attack or anytime you need to stay calm. My mom actually sent me this one and I have used it ever since. You basically look around and identify or name the following things:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can feel
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
You can repeat this if necessary, but I usually find it works on the first try.
Slime – I know what your thinking, slime? Yes slime, as in the type you made as a child. There are a ton of different tutorials on YouTube on how to make slime, it seems to be trending these days. I find that a particular type of slime seems to work best at soothing my anxiety and that is crunchy slime. For some reason the sound and the texture of the slime seems to provide some relief from anxiety symptoms. Don’t ask me why this one works but it does and it is fun so that always a bonus. Here is the tutorial I used to make my slime – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_tio9pfzj4. You can use this tutorial or a simple Google or YouTube search will provide boundless results.
Family and Friends – It took me a long time to realize that not all support people are created equal. Find that one (or more) person in your life that is truly supportive and understanding of your situation. I found that a person who is able to listen can be just as helpful as someone who gives advice. Sometimes all you want to do is talk about what worries you and that is okay. It is often helpful to be able to share your issues or concerns with someone without being worried about judgement and ridicule. Building a support network for yourself is key, you should not have to suffer alone.
Pets – The number one thing I recommend to any mental illness sufferer is get a pet. It could be a dog, cat or any other animal. My dog has helped with my GAD more than anything else. Simply having a pet to talk to when you’re down will do wonders for your psyche. My dog seems to understand when I am anxious or upset and is more than willing to provide cuddles. Cuddling and talking to him helps me immensely. It will also help you get a routine in place, you’ll be less likely to be stressing over yourself when you need to feed your pet or take them for a walk. If you are unable to own a pet due to rules where you live, then consider volunteering at an animal shelter. You would be helping yourself as well as the animals which is great. As an added bonus you will feel awesome knowing you were able to lend a hand to some animals in need.
Those are just a few tips for you if you are struggling with stress or anxiety. Always remember there are a number of resources for those who struggle with mental illness, family members, friends and health care professionals can provide a wonderful support network to help you on your way. You are not alone!
Thanks for reading