Anxiety has become an everyday occurrence in my life over the last couple of years. While prone to anxiety my whole life, I did not start to feel the full, debilitating effects until after college. Nervousness about social situations was pretty much the extent of it. During Covid my anxiety hit a scary turning point, like many others. My respective degrees are in Human Development and Family Social Services so I’ve learned and utilized techniques for myself and with clients. Here’s what I found worked and hopefully it works for you too:
Have a Routine
How many times have you started your day without a plan? If you do this you’re not alone. I’ve been guilty of this as well. Sometimes we can feel like freedom is the answer to all our problems. While it can be nice in situations like when you’re on vacation, Scheduling on a daily basis is beneficial for many people, especially for those with some form of anxiety. What scheduling does is take away more things that could be on your mind. “What am I making for dinner? Should I go to the gym? What will I wear tomorrow morning?”. All these questions are valid, but don’t need to be living in your head all day. Keeping a physical planner for work and/or school is extra beneficial. The more we have in writing means less strain on the mind. A simple step like scheduling can go a long way.
Put That Phone Down
Man, have I struggled with this. Generally, I have been pretty self aware about cell phone usage throughout my time with one. I got a smart phone in 2011, my junior year of high school. At that point, I left my phone in my locker all day long and didn’t really have an itch to constantly check it when I think back to those times. It stayed that way until I graduated a couple years later. With the lack of structure that college provided, it became easy to turn to YouTube or twitter in instances of boredom.
There is a feeling that you could be missing something when you own a smartphone and you hear a notification or haven’t checked social media in 30 minutes. That feeling directly causes stress and anxiety in us. It is an unhealthy addiction. I have finally decided to remove social media and other unnecessary apps and put timed restrictions on others. I have even considered buying a flip phone eventually. You don’t have to jump to that extreme right away, or at all, but be more mindful. If you find yourself having that itch, ask yourself, “Is it worth it?”.
Sweat it Out
Exercise is not only a necessary part of human life (if you wish to reach your physical potential) but it is also beneficial for improved mental health. Research has shown to improve mental health in those with anxiety and depression. Our present way of living has made us more prone to sit around all day but we are active creatures. We are supposed to move around all day and when that doesn’t happen, it can have negative consequences.
Talk it out
At this point, the benefits of therapy and counseling are very well known. It can be awkward to talk about your struggles with someone else, but keep in mind that they want to help and don’t judge you based on those struggles like some family and friends may. Have you ever gotten something off of your chest that had been bugging you for a long time? Imagine being able to do that weekly. Those stresses will no longer weigh you down like they once had. When you actively work on your mental health, good things happen.
Pause, Take a Breath
Remember to breathe! Some symptoms of anxiety can be chest pressure and breathlessness. And when we’re near panic/anxiety attacks we also notice escalated breathing. Focusing on your breath can be helpful in those situations. There are many techniques you can utilize. Take a look at them here. Deep breathing may not be for everyone but give it a chance next time you find your mind playing tricks on you. I know they help me quite a bit.
Just do It
I know anxiety can be a butt kicker. We need to be active in order to control it. It is, unfortunately, something we need to live with, but with the proper effort, we can live happy lives. Don’t ever give up. I’m with you along the way.