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Anxiety is a condition that affects everyone at some stage in life. For some people, this is more of a chronic condition than others who only get anxiety occasionally. Having effective coping mechanisms is essential to success when you’re in this headspace. I will go through some processes and ideas that may help you cope when anxiety comes around.
While it might sound obvious – and honestly quite irritating when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack only to have a well-meaning bystander telling you to “just breathe” and to breathe with them. I don’t know about you, but it’s about as useful as someone waves a sandwich in your face when you’re hungry, wondering why you don’t have a sandwich too.
However, there are exercises that you can do to incorporate them into your exercise routine or a morning ritual for yourself when you’re making your coffee.
The most wonderful Yoga With Adrienne has the most wonderful YouTube channel where she takes you through Yoga practices for free. She has an in-depth breathing playlist to teach you various breathing techniques. Her no BS approach to Yoga encourages you to “be where you are” with your practice. If you can’t do the poses, then that’s ok. She encourages the mantra that “turning up is enough”.
You can find a link to all of her breathing exercises below :
Taking some time to write what is causing you anxiety can be a useful practice. I don’t mean for you to analyse what is going on or the things you’re worried about or things that might cause you added anxiety. Focus on getting them out of your head and onto some paper.
I recommend keeping a piece of paper or a notepad beside your bed or the toilet. Wherever you find yourself lost in your thoughts. Don’t judge your thoughts or content. This is just an exercise to help clear your mind and help you get a little of mental rest.
Like breathing. Telling people to meditate can seem like it’s such an obnoxious thing to say to someone. However, while it’s proven that meditation has positive effects with helping your mental state. There is also equally enough bias and “a way to do it” that people pontificate about.
I want to tell you that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. It is a practice of just turning up for yourself in that practice of trying to calm your mind. I use Headspace (not nearly as often as I should) and I’ve found that a lot of what makes up a good practice is less about hitting that “zen” feeling or anything like that but more attempting to turn up to the practice and to try.
The simple fact of the matter is – your mind will not be quiet the first time around. Meditating will feel uncomfortable and unnatural when we’re so programmed to doing things.
Here is one of the best things that I’ve learned from Headspace:
“Headspace Co-founder, Andy Puddicombe likens the practice of meditation to sitting by the side of a road, with instructions to watch the traffic. How do we stop ourselves from getting caught up with the thoughts? It’s a question of perspective.”
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on helping you identify patterns in your everyday life that might be triggering any anxiety or depression. It is a system that can apply to a wide number of mental health concerns, not just anxiety. Like all approaches in psychology it will depend on each person whether this approach suits people or not.
While I’ll always advise going to see a professional licenced therapist for any work – sometimes its not always an option. So here are some recommended text books that talk you through the basics as well as having worksheets to support your learning. (Pro Tip! Use a copier to work on the worksheet so you can reuse them multiple times)
Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT
In the spirit of counseling, it seems purposeful that we talk about talking. We must find the right support network for us to be supported when we’re having periods of anxiety. Sometimes, despite our friends and family’s best interests, they might not give you the support you need.
It’s unfortunately common that friends and family may, very well intentioned, tell you not to worry about it or that you’re overthinking things. That doesn’t help with calming feelings of overwhelm or anxiety.
This is where seeing a registered, licenced therapist comes in. They provide a safe space where you can share your thoughts and feelings in a non judgemental space. Please don’t misunderstand me, it can take a long time to find the right therapist who gets you. I have been with mine through an app called BetterHelp for the last 3 years and my therapist has been essential to my mental health.
For anyone unsure if counseling is for them, there is a weeklong trial that you can take where you’ll be matched with a therapist and you can see how you feel.
In the lengthy line of cliches about what to do to ease anxiety, going for a walk is nearly always high on the list of what they recommend. I know how bothersome this advice is first hand, as it was my father’s solution to everything that ails you. I legitimately wanted to strangle him every time he mentioned it.
In saying that, it doesn’t have to be so productive as going for a walk. It can be as simple as taking the time to stretch. Or to do some Yoga poses. When I’m feeling ungrounded, I often do a sun salutation to help me reconnect with myself.
Yoga with Adrianne 10 minute Beginner Sun Salutation Practice is just enough for me to feel stretched and calmer.
As for more traditional stretches you can find a selection of them on YouTube but some of my favourites are from Dr Joe.
I hope these suggestions will help empower you to make the most out of the times you have anxiety and to encourage you in that things get better.