I had my first anxiety attack when I was 17. I’m 35. Here’s some stuff that’s worked to help me manage my anxiety disorder.
- The basics: Are you eating enough/healthy? Are you sleeping or trying to make space to rest if you have trouble sleeping? Are you drinking water? If no. Go try to make that happen. If you tell your body: “You know. Meh. I don’t need to take care of you.” Your body will add on to the anxiety. “If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live? (Right?!)” – I saw that on Pinterest somewhere.
- Learn to slow down your breath (and be aware when it’s going haywire): Here. You can follow Elmo, Common, and Colbie Caillet to teach you how to Belly Breathe. You can also take breaths in sync with these expanding shapes. Sometimes I just trace my hand with a finger. When I move up, I breathe in, as I move down I breathe out.
- Practice grounding techniques: I like to do 5 senses observations (Name 5 things I can hear, see, touch, smell in the room). There’s also an app called “What’s up” that has many of these techniques.
- Listen to something soothing: I always love listening to the Piano Guys or this Theta waves music when my mind feels full of thoughts and worry.
- Practice a body scan mediation: Come join me on Insight Timer! It’s a FREE mediation app that has hundreds of meditations. One of my favorite body scan meditations is from Andrew Johnson. Here’s a heaviness meditation that is available from him on YouTube.
- Exercise: Let me say that I am the first to want to slap someone when they tell me to go exercise for anxiety. It take a lot of energy to go do that. But let me just say, in defense of all of the people who ever told me to go do that, they’re right. Sometimes I just walk around my apartment for 20 minutes. Other times I look for videos on Fitness Blender’s YouTube channel. My favorite are the kickboxing workouts you can do at home. I pretend I’m punching my anxiety.
- Distract yourself: Pinterest helps me feel grounded again.
- Journal: One of my favorite anxiety prompts is:
- What am I physically feeling right now (body scan)?
- What is causing me to feel this way? Write an If..then..statement (Ex. If I don’t wash my hands again, I’m going to get sick).
- Explore the thought with compassion. What’s making you worry about this?
- Write what you would like to think instead. What do you value and how can you flip this around to live according to your values.
- Give yourself next steps. What can you do next to live according to your values?