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.
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.
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.
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.
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!!!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
This whole pandemic has not only set off a whole realm of loneliness for a lot of people, but also a lot of anxiety and uncertainty. If you find yourself unsure of what to do with your life, unable to sleep or sleeping too much, feeling restless – IT IS OKAY. A lot of us have been go-go-go with our jobs, family, relationships, school, side hustles etc. It is totally okay to feel uneasy with how the world is right now. It is not easy for anyone. One of the good things about this isolation period is that the whole world is doing the same thing. Most of us are laid off, at home, unable to see relatives or friends, unable to do our usual routine. It is extremely probable that the pandemic has caused people increasing anxiety, and for people diagnosed with anxiety already – a pretty hard time. “People often don’t realize that their difficulties with focus, memory, sleep and relationships can all be related to anxiety,” says Amelia Aldao, clinical psychologist and founder of Together CBT in New York City. I am here to tell you IT IS OKAY.
So, let’s take a deep breath for a moment. This pandemic is probably going to last a bit longer than we all would like it to and what we need to do is come up with a new routine. Or, if you’re not into routine – just different things to do throughout the day to ensure that we don’t get tangled in all of that anxiety and stir-craziness.
The first thing to do is to limit the amount of news you watch. I know it is a horrific time and that is all that is blasted everywhere, but limiting this is truly what will be best for your own sake and mental health. I am not telling you to completely block it out and act like nothing is wrong, but to limit the amount you watch/read.
Continue with a SCHEDULE/ROUTINE. If you are someone who is normally structured and organized, don’t think of this time as a free-for-all. Keeping a steady schedule despite the circumstances will ensure that you are staying sane and busy.
Which adds to my next point, KEEP BUSY. This can be done in an unlimited amount of ways. Take a bath, journal, draw, paint, garden, work-out, watch movies, get started on a new tv series, read a book or two or three!!!, call up a friend etc.
Wake up and go to bed at your normal time. This one has honestly been one of the hardest ones for me. My sleeping schedule has been out of whack and that causes me so much stress because if I go to bed late, I typically wake up late and then I’m upset that I wasted ___ # of hours of the day. Wake up early still and go to bed at a reasonable time!
If you work from home – try not to overload. With this stress and anxiety, it can become overwhelming and chances are your memory and work ethic is not what it was. Break up tasks, give yourself breaks, drink lots of water and feed yourself properly.
Which goes again, feed yourself properly. I know that because the routine is off, sometimes we may forget to make breakfast or lunch, or maybe just hydrate properly. Try to truly make an effort to nourish your body and eat properly (bonus if it’s healthy!)
Pick up a new skill/hobby. When is the last time you painted? What about gardening? Working out? Is there a task that you’ve been putting off such as painting the basement, redoing the deck? Take this time to do the things that you weren’t planning on doing before while you have the time.
Check up on friends and family. Although you may not be able to go and visit, or maybe you can if you stay 6 feet apart (do not come for me if they change this rule!!!) A simple facetime call can help to stay connected while also checking up on your loved ones. We all need checking up on, especially if we are struggling through this. Take a few minutes and call that person (or multiple people), they will really enjoy your company.
YouTube. I have been catching up on some of my favourite YouTubers lately and I am really enjoying it – especially because there are a lot of them who have decided to post daily vlogs, which gets me excited to watch and gives me something to do every day. Or, if you’re feeling creative – make your own YouTube channel and get recording!
Get yourself ready. I have found that whenever I get out of bed, take a nice shower and do my hair/makeup – I feel way better. I feel like “hey, at least I did that today!”
Take some online courses. Ever heard of Shaw Academy? They have a variety of online classes that you can take that range from marketing, social media and graphic design to beauty, music, finance, photography and more! They are doing a free trial and then if you’d like to continue afterwards it’s $69.99 CAD. It’s interactive, they have Q&A sessions, quizzes, assignments, and unlimited access to all of their courses – so if you wanted to take photography and finance, you can totally do that. Also, this is not an ad, I just really enjoyed their platform. Of course, there are many other platforms that do relatively the same stuff for online courses.
Stay safe, healthy & sane everyone.
Ps. Quick reminder to follow my blog to stay updated on new posts and also wash your hands 🙂