Now hear me out, I’m sure many of the people who write tips like these do actually struggle day to day with anxiety, but sometimes when I read them I’m like “seriously”?
Here are 5 real tips, from someone who really has anxiety.
this is a classic activity that is really easy, but really effective. Do you ever feel like you’re floating away? like your brain is so busy on other things, like bills that need to be paid, or a social event coming up that really has you feeling the heeby jeebies? Like you’re not really “here”. This activity is perfect for bringing you back to wherever “here” is. It is grounding and helps kick those bad thoughts out, even if it’s only for now.
5,4,3,2,1 is an activity where you either think or say out loud 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you smell, and one thing you taste. Yes it sounds trivial and childish, and yes it is a practice children suffering with anxiety use, but it works wonders for people of all ages.
Personally, it is an exercise I do almost every night in order to fall asleep and I promise, it works.
2. Stop trying to push away the scary thoughts
There are a ton of mental illnesses that come with intrusive thoughts. Some people without any diagnoses have them too. It’s the inner voice that beats you down. It can range from “stop doing this, you need to think about the essay you’ve been procrastinating” to “you are worthless, nobody likes you”
Unfortunately, these thoughts are a part of life. With anxiety can come more of these thoughts. Personally I have struggled with trying to not think about these when they pop up. Meaning, I hear my inner monologue tell me I’m garbage, or it’ll tell me all of the things I should be doing, but I’m not. I try to push them out, which ends up doing the opposite. I end up dwelling, freaking out, and spiraling into a panic attack.
It sounds dumb, but what works for me is just allowing them to happen. Yes, they come, they are scary, and they suck. But they pass.
I listen to my inner monologue, acknowledge it, maybe make a plan to approach the topic at hand later in the day, and they pass.
They’re going to happen, and they’re going to suck, but if you think “nope, not thinking about this what else can I think of”, you’ll end up always coming back to the thing you’re avoiding. Especially at night before bed.
I know, it’s the worst. Nobody wants to clean their house or apartment when they can barely get out of bed. But do it. Trust me.
Have you ever had a bad day or a bad week and your surroundings just start to fall apart? (yeah me too) How can you clean up your surroundings when you can’t even clean up your act? Put on some tunes, get into some comfy clothes and go at it, because a clear space is a clear mind, and when you crawl out of the cave that is a depressive episode/anxiety episode, you’re not going to want to crawl into a pig sty.
bonus: rearrange some furniture, open a window, buy a plant. Your space reflects your brain and your brain reflects your space.
4. Ditch the caffeine
Listen, Coffee is my savior. It is my church, it is my god, it is my soul mate. I get it. But when you feel your anxiety starting to rise and things starting to get on your nerves, drinking a coffee, especially if you like them strong, will only make it worse.
It’s only going to raise your heart rate, which adds to that shaky “off” feeling you are already experiencing from having high anxiety.
Have a tea, then have a coffee later or tomorrow, because coffee is life.
5. Get out of bed
Yes the bed is warm, yes it is soft and safe. Yes you can roll yourself up in a cocoon and disappear from the world, which seems great. What could be better?
I can’t even count how many times I have cancelled appointments, cancelled hanging out with friends, even called in sick to work because I felt like I “couldn’t” get out of bed.
But you need to get out of bed.
The world is scary. But it is great. You can’t do anything from inside your blanket cave. You can’t help anyone, or make anyone smile, or pet any dogs from inside your bed (unless you know, you have a dog). Yes it is safe, yes it is a comfort zone, but life begins at the end of your comfort zone.
I know this tip sounds like something your mother who doesn’t understand would tell you. “Just get out of bed” sounds patronizing, but it’s not. This is the best tip I can give you.
So just get out of bed, even if you feel like the blankets have turned into roots of a tree trying to pull you in every time you dig your way out. Try, because even when you feel like you have nothing to offer, you can still always TRY.