How I Currently Deal With Anxiety -- My Tips For You

Hello everyone

I'm back after a long time. I had been very busy with a vocational training and life in general. Now because of the quarantine, I found myself with extra time on my hands -- so here I am, with a new post.

When the quarantine started I found that my anxiety skyrocketed. And I'm definitely not the only one, I realised that a lot of people around me were dealing with similar issues. Everyone is going though a hard time with all the uncertainty around the Covid virus, but people with pre-existing mental health issues can have an extra hard time.
So I wanted to share a little bit how I take care of my mental health right now. and I hope it is useful for you.

I manage my anxiety with "first aid methods" when it strikes, by training my mind, and by building routines into my day that support me.

When anxiety strikes:

This method is from my therapist and is very very effective, especially if you do it regularly as soon as any negative emotion comes up. It's based on the fact that emotions are messengers: they will go away only when they have been heard. If you ignore them, they will bide their time and come back to bother you again.
I breathe deeply, and ask how my body feels. Where is the emotion in my body? In which body part? How does it feel? Hot, cold, tight, heavy...? I name and describe the sensations. I keep on breathing. How does the emotion feel in my body now? Breathe again. And now? And now how does my body feel, has anything shifted? I continue till I have worked though the feeling.

Training my thinking:

This little exercise helps my have more control over my thoughts. As someone with ADHD, my thoughts usually go run all over the place, often in directions which cause me a lot of stress and anxiety. Three minutes daily of the "pencil exercise" puts me in the drivers seat of my mind, so that when anxiety strikes I can bring my thoughts back on track.
Take a simple object like a pencil or a paperclip, and for just three minutes concentrate on it and think only about it. Examine it, look at what it's made of. Every time your mind wanders bring it back. I do this in bed after waking up, and sometimes it's easy and at other times it's really hard -- but it always calms my mind for the day.

Daily sayings:

I have a verse or saying that I say in the morning and another one for the evening. These set the tone for the day (or the night), and bring my focus towards certain things. The same couple of lines read every day can have a powerful effect.
Choose something that strengthens you or guides you, it could be the serenity prayer from Niebuhr (God grant me the serenity / to accept the things I cannot change; / courage to change the things I can; /and wisdom to know the difference.) But also it could be the litany against fear from Dune, something religious, tow lines of poetry. Anything that speaks to you and helps you, be it peace, patience, comfort, courage or strength.

Daily movement to stay grounded:

Movement helps me be less in my head and connect with my body better. It is really important for me that I practice joyful movement -- that is I do what I enjoy, and not to control the way my body looks or weights. Right now I like to do Yoga every morning, right after I wake up. I don't have much space, I often have kids climbing over me, yet I make sure I do this every day. Before I start I take a few slow, deep breaths, because I'm usually a shallow-breather. I like to get inspired by @yogafundamentals and @inflexibleyogis. Don't underestimate simple poses which can give you a good stretch or work your muscles without injuring yourself due to improper posture. This one and this one are really simple poses that still give me a lot every day. For something more fun I like to dance along to the Fitness Marshall videos -- they are so over the top that it always puts me into a better mood.

Daily Jud

Psychiatrist and neuroscientist Dr Judson Brewer does daily short but super-helpful videos on dealing with stress anxiety and other problems in this Corona time on his Youtube channel. I have been following his past research on mindfulness as a ways of healing anxiety, eating disorders and addiction; and now every evening I watch my daily dose of Dr Jud. the advice is very doable and the videos are really calming.

That's all from me today, I hope you found this useful! Stay healthy!
Photo credit: Benjamin Zanatta

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