Categories
anxiety mental health

10 Tips for Coping With Anxiety

Have you ever felt like your brain was becoming more and more tense by the second? Racing with thoughts, unable to concentrate on tasks, conversations, work… It’s a daily struggle for many people, including me. I have struggled with my anxiety for years, even before I knew what it was. I just thought it was completely normal, that everyone gets outbursts sometimes, everyone cries over minor things, everyone is unable to control their thoughts and worries…This happened to everyone and so I shouldn’t think anything of it. Wrong. It got too much, to a point where I couldn’t take it and I finally seeked help from my doctor. But, if you’re like me – medication doesn’t always do the trick and it can also take a very long time for it to even start working effectively. I have some key coping mechanisms that have helped me get through my days and also get through anxiety attacks that I feel coming on.

  1. The most important tip to remember is that your mind needs balance. How is your mind supposed to be balanced if the rest of your body isn’t? It’s time to start eating balanced and healthier meals. Eat regular meals and ensure you are taking in lots of water.
  2. Limit caffeine. I know this one is a total bummer especially for coffee lovers, and I still have a hard time with this too. But, instead of completely cutting it out – try to start with reducing your intake. If you drink 3 coffees per day, try 2. Caffeine is known to often aggravate anxiety and trigger anxiety/panic attacks.
  3. If you feel an anxiety attack coming on, take a seat, and breathe deeply and slowly. I follow a breathing rule inhaling deeply for 10 seconds and then slowly exhaling for 10 seconds then repeating if necessary. It usually takes me a few times before I start to truly calm myself.
  4. Change your focus. If you feel yourself getting irritable, uneasy, anxious etc. try to change your focus to something else. Watch a TV show, read a book, try exercising (which although can be hard to get yourself up and going, is very effective!!!)
  5. Painting or drawing (if you like to), can help ease the mind and enable your mind to focus on the act of painting, the colours, and how soothing it can be.
  6. Journal out your thoughts. Whenever I felt extremely overwhelmed, I would capture those thoughts and put them into poems – it’s actually where my best work came from. It’s a great way to relieve and unload your mind.
  7. Recognize the signs. Everyone is different which means the signs could be totally different. But, recognizing the signs before an anxiety attack can truly help you to be proactive by preventing an attack, calming down before it gets too much and noticing the signs way earlier.
  8. Stay in regular contact with friends and family, especially those who are close to you. Surround yourself with people you can open up to and talk with. Loneliness and isolation can be very hard on your mental health, especially anxiety and depression.
  9. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Therapy is becoming less and less stigmatized and is often talked about as being important even if you don’t have anxiety or depression. It can be helpful for everyday life, to enhance it and allow you to truly live your best, mentally. The truth is, you have to allow yourself to get the help you deserve and to talk about what is going on, even if it’s hard to explain.
  10. The last tip is one that I just learned recently, and it may sound silly but it works. When you are feeling anxious, grab an ice cube from your freezer and squeeze it in your hand. The coldness immediately takes your mind off of any anxious thoughts, because it is focused on the cold shock in your hands. If you don’t have ice cubes, try cold water!

It is important to take time for yourself. Your mental state is incredibly precious and self-care goes a long way. The trick is to check in with yourself every so often, ask yourself either in your head or aloud – how am I feeling? If you feel off, proceed to ask yourself what you need at the moment. Maybe it’s as simple as a tight hug or it could be more complex and having a reoccurring issue finally be solved – whatever it is, you are capable of controlling your own thoughts and feelings. We are so strong and life can throw some heavy stuff at us, but we rise up and keep on. Isn’t that amazing?

Categories
mental health

Take Care of Yourself

I think that it’s in most peoples minds that the world feels like it’s closing down. When you walk down the street of once-busy downtown Toronto, you will find it feeling very eerie. The roads are near empty, the sidewalks too. Everyone is at home, self isolating themselves from this horrendous virus that has changed our lives globally.

At first, when I saw the news, sitting at home eating a big bowl of spaghetti surrounded by family, I thought to myself, “it won’t come here, though…” and I changed the channel. It is crazy how things change and how fast a virus can spread. My heart goes out to China and Italy, who have experienced the worst of it. This virus is no joke and nothing to change the channel about. I didn’t realize it could get this bad, to the point of closing shops, malls and banks. Taking a trip to the grocery store feels as if we are all gatherers, trying to find things that will keep our family healthy and able to live throughout this isolation, I mean, who knows how long it will be. The shelves are bare, toilet paper, soup, cold/flu medication, any form of sanitizer, it’s all out of stock. The people who need it most, the elderly can’t even get any of it – the grocery stores have had to restock and restock, opening up an hour early just for the elderly and disabled to come in a have a chance at getting some necessities. The world is in true panic.

Sitting at home, unable to visit my parents and sister in fear that they will somehow get the virus or if they have the virus – give it to me. I have no idea if I am a carrier of this virus, I show no symptoms – but there have been many positive cases with the same thing. The fear has truly set in for me, but I have been trying to really take the time I have to practice self-care and truly take care of myself during this time. I know that in times of panic, fear and isolation it can often result in problems with mental health including depression and I want to make sure that I am giving myself the proper care to avoid that. I’ve been trying to make sure I don’t start eating a bunch of junk just because I am home all day, which can be very tempting because of boredom. I also have gotten into some at-home workouts which fills some time and makes me feel really good. But, my go-to activity is YouTube and Netflix. My favourite youtubers Julie & Hunter Havens have been putting out daily vlogs and it’s really neat to see how they are being productive and going about their day throughout this whole fiasco.

I hope that everyone is staying indoors, safe, healthy and mentally well. I know this is going to be a bit hard for some people to self-isolate and being home majority of the time, but this can also be a great time to pick up a new hobby or skill. I’ve been trying to read more and I see some people are picking up painting, drawing etc. Which is also a really great idea. All in all, find what works for you and makes you happy. Try not to sleep too much and try to be productive through these next few weeks.

Well wishes xo