If you’re here, that means you either have an anxiety disorder or you’re interested in learning more about it, or you just love my sarcasm and wit. Whichever reason you’re here, I hope this post is relatable to everyone. Whether it’s stress, whether it’s depression, whether it’s pain, whether it’s anxiety – we all have our own coping mechanisms. I wanted to share what helps me when I’m having a rough day.
My Top 5 Anxiety Relievers:
- Furiously crochet through the attack.
Whenever I’m at home and I have an anxiety attack, I will often channel all of my anxiety into crocheting. Now – you’ll notice I used the term, “Furiously crochet.” What does that mean? That means that I tune out everything else around me, and I take all of the negativity and anxiety and worry and I take all of those feelings out on my poor yarn. I crochet fast and hard, I don’t look up from the work and I don’t stop until I feel myself calming down. If you’ve ever gotten a crocheted gift from me, chances are parts of that were made during an anxiety attack. Why do I do this? Because it helps me channel the anxiety somewhere else – and it gives me something else to focus on. However, if you’re going to take this route, do so safely. Use the proper form and don’t do damage to your arms (ulnar nerve surgery hurts and it’s expensive – trust me on this one.) See the link below for proper form (just in case you happen to love yarn as much as I do.)
2. Use visualization and count backwards from 100.
This one is one I just happened to try one evening and it stuck. Most of my anxiety attacks happen at bedtime. Why? Because I have this irrational fear that if I go to sleep I won’t wake up. So, my heart starts racing and my mind starts racing. To combat that, I force my mind and my body to sync up and think of something else. We’ve all seen those deep breath videos (breathe in until the black triangle fills up and then breathe out until it disappears.) This is kind of like that, only I visualize numbers. I breathe in and start visualizing myself writing the number 100 and breathe out as I finish writing it, then I move on to 99 and so on. If I get to the number 0, I start over.
I also do the same with songs (P.S. did you know that an alarmingly large amount of songs has death mentioned in some way, shape or form? It’s really hard to find a safe one haha.) But providing I find a safe one, I’ll breathe in and out with elongated breaths and just sing the same song over and over again in my head. The repetition and being able to concentrate on something other than my anxiety attack, eventually helps me calm down enough to sleep.
3. Watching scary movies.
Sounds counterintuitive, right? I can hear your gears turning and your brain thinking, “Kelly, you’re afraid of death – why would you watch movies where people die horrible deaths?” It’s actually more common than you think, it’s just not as openly talked about because of the stigma and confusion behind it. Check out this article below, the author does a great job describing this coping mechanism and why it works. Do I sometimes still have nights where all I can do is picture every single way someone died in the movie afterwards? Yup. Queue tip number 2. But most nights, I find myself more content at the fact and hope that the demon can be beat and the battle can be won.
4. Work. Work. Work.
As you may have seen in my “About Me” section, I work… A LOT. I work full-time, 40 hours a week, at a company I love that keeps me super busy and keeps my mind off of everything else. (Although, when it does get my anxiety in a tizzy, I’m allowed to listen to music – which also helps a lot. Insert the soundtrack to Newsies here.) I work part-time, 16 hours a week, at a library where I shelve books. It’s comforting, it’s easy, it’s mind numbing. It’s exactly the escape that I need sometimes. It gives me the outlet to dive deep into my brain and think, or completely shut it off and concentrate on nothing other than putting books in ABC order. I mean, is there really any better escape than books? Let’s be real here. On top of all of that, I also actively sell Lilla Rose Hair Accessories (Insert shameless plug here: http://www.lillarose.biz/KellyEngelman.) When I need something to help with my anxiety and it happens to be a night I’m off at the library, I often channel it into my Lilla Rose business (or this blog!) It’s comforting knowing that you’re working hard to obtain a goal. This month, my anxiety levels have been higher due to the possibility of hitting a new rank with the company – so I’ve been channeling that anxiety back into the business by working, working, working. It also led me to a lot of people who also suffer from anxiety on the team. They’ve been an amazing support group. Lean on your support group. If you don’t have one, contact me, I’d be happy to listen.
5. Shower cries.
This one might be my most important tip/ trick of all. With the stigma on mental disorders, many of us often feel like we can’t let other people see us during an attack, we can’t talk about it, we can’t let it be known. We may be seen as weak, or mentally unstable. Society says we have to be stronger than our disease and not let others see you break down. If you’re having an anxiety attack in public and you’re comfortable enough to explain your situation to others, then I 100% recommend that you do so. I can pretty much promise that someone in the room understands. However, sometimes we just want to break down when we’re alone. Sometimes the stress of the day gets to be too much, and so we let the anxiety take over for a while. Because fighting it all the time is hard. Because, sometimes crying just feels good. So, I shower cry. Not because I’m embarrassed, or because I don’t want others to see me, but because it’s a personal thing. It’s time for me to be alone and let go for a while and just let my anxiety have control for a bit. It’s my time with my disease to battle it and face it how I choose. Sometimes I’m a crumpled mess on the shower floor, other times I stand tall and just let the tears flow, sometimes I can’t get the anxiety under control and I have to force myself to try another tactic. More often than not though, the crying just makes everything feel better. Don’t ever be ashamed to cry and grieve from your disease. It takes a lot from us every day.