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All mental health problems can be a drag, but today I’m going to talk about anxiety as its the one on my mind (quite literally). The way we experience anxiety does not only vary from person to person, it can change day to day. Because of this, I have developed things that help me cope with my middling to bad days which I thought I would share because it might help someone if they feel the same. So here are five tips from an anxious 22-year-old:
- For the days when you can’t sit still because you’re anxious about something but you don’t know what—tackle something. Note I did not say someone—please don't tackle someone in the middle of the street thank you very much. Do something you’ve been meaning to do for ages, like change a light bulb or clean the bathroom. Let me give you an example: today I tackled THE PILE. I've just moved house and the pile was a heap of my belongings that had been building up each time I’d tidied my living room, but had never been put away, just put in a corner. This pile actually included an entire suitcase full of clothes from my last holiday IN MARCH. Eight months of procrastination later, cleaning this up and putting it away made me feel like I’d really accomplished something and eclipsed a lot of my unidentifiable anxiety.
- For the days when you’re just too panicked to do anything—these are the worst days. The first thing I like to do is sit on the floor and close my eyes. I try to think of, and then say out loud, five things that are good in my life. This can vary from “I had a good day” to “I have a roof over my head,” just as long as they’re good things. It sometimes just gives you the time you need to calm down.
- LISTS. I understand this won't help everyone, but anyone who knows me well will know that I LOVE LISTS. There is nothing I find more therapeutic than writing everything I have to do down and being able to tick things off as I do them, bit by bit. They can even be as simple as "make bed" or "wash up," because even then you've accomplished something.This lets me keep track of things which I often find overwhelming at first. The same goes for any kind of schedule or diary too!
- Don’t be afraid of time on your own. There was a time last year when I was so anxious about everything that I couldn’t stand being on my own, but its one of the most important things. As daunting as it can be, being on your own allows you time to relax and process your thoughts. Yes those thoughts can often be unbearable, but they need to be processed and examined. Also, you are the best and most important person in the word. Sometimes you need to be reminded of that—so spend some time with the best person you will ever meet—yourself!
- Lastly, as important as it is to process things on your own, its just as important to process this with somebody else, be it your partner, best friend, parent, sibling or dog. I have to admit that I am particularly bad at explaining how I feel but its important to try. Even if I can’t find the right words I sometimes say the most bizarre things to explain whats going on in my mind. For example, last night I told my boyfriend that I felt like I constantly have a piano hovering over my head. After he understood that, things didn’t seem quite so bizarre.
So there you have it. Five ways of “coping” with anxiety which hopefully may work for some of you. As I said at the beginning, anxiety is different for everyone, and what may work for me may be the worst technique for someone else. If any of you have any more suggestions please let me know!!