I personally feel like over the years I’ve really mastered (for the most part) how to manage even my worst anxiety, and how to fairly quickly calm myself back down when things seem particularly tough, so I wanted to share some of my best tricks when things feel way too overwhelming.
One // Pinpoint What Makes You Anxious. If you deal with anxiety, it’s likely that by now you at least know what a few of your “triggers” are for anxiety attacks or heightened anxiety, but maybe you haven’t identified all of them. Knowing which events, problems, or activities tend to heighten your anxiety is the most important step in knowing how to manage and control it – you can’t calm your mind if you aren’t even sure what your mind is worked up about in the first place. Start making a mental note (or keep a list in the notes section of your phone) when you notice something making you anxious. If you aren’t sure of exactly what it is, jot down a note or two about your current surroundings/circumstances/situation…looking at it later might help you see more clearly what was upsetting you.
Two // Find an Outlet. One of the worst parts of anxiety can be feeling trapped or as if you don’t have any sort of outlet for all of your nervous energy and heightened emotions…and this can sometimes translate into negative outlets instead (such as a cranky mood or picking an argument with someone close to you). This, in turn, can create even more anxiety later when you start to worry about whatever negative outlet you ended up focusing on. Instead, come up with a few outlets for yourself that will help channel the energy somewhere more positive (or at least keep it from heading in a negative place). For me, writing and blogging is one of my best outlets, but if that’s not accessible a good book or article works well too, along with a calming playlist. Exercising is a great option too, and tends to give you mental clarity much faster than other options. Whatever it may be, try to have multiple ones in mind so you’re never stuck without an idea.
Three // Take Away the Stress Factor. My absolute favorite go-to way of tackling my anxiety and feelings of being overwhelmed is making a list (and this is always my most-recommended tactic for my friends, as well). When it seems as if you have a million things to do and no time to do them, spend ten minutes writing everything down day by day. Put everything on it’s assigned “due date’ or time that it needs to happen, and then you’ll have a birds-eye view of your week. You might realize that you have more time than you thought on Tuesday, so that would be a great spot for things without specific timelines (like maybe tackling your laundry pile). Every time I try this tip, I instantly feel calmer and realize that everything can get done…as long as I take it one day at a time.
Four // Are You Taking Care of Yourself? Typically when things get busy for me, taking care of myself (both mentally and physically) is the first thing off the list…and that is crazy! If I feel too busy, I might skip a workout or ignore things like doing my hair that week. While it’s sometimes okay to let these things slip, these simple parts of my self-care routine are really important to me feeling like I have things together and on track. Usually during an overwhelmed or anxious day (especially if I’m not sure why I’m anxious) a hot shower, a comfy but cute outfit, and taking a few extra minutes to look presentable can make all the difference. Don’t de-prioritize yourself over everything else you need to get done!
Five // Relaxation Techniques. If all else fails, it’s important to have a strategy of ways to relax yourself. Relaxation is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and different things work for different people. It could be exercising, turning all of your devices off and giving yourself 30 minutes of alone time, immersing yourself in a book, doing some stretches and yoga (along with some deep breathing exercises)…the list goes on and on. Know what works for you and make it just as important as the other things on your to-do list.
Six // Remember the Most Important Thing…will this matter a month, six months, or a year from now? Chances are…it won’t. Let that sink into your mentality, and only give it the level of importance and urgency that it deserves. Sometimes things can feel like they weigh a thousand tons on your mind…and in reality, you will probably feel silly even an hour from now when you realize how much you panicked. Repeat this as a mantra until your brain accepts it as true.
Does anyone else suffer from anxiety or severe stress? What are your best ways of coping? Thanks for listening to my (more personal) rant – I hope these tips are as helpful to some of you as they have been for me!