For the longest time I never really understood what anxiety was. Mostly because for a long time it wasn’t talked about often.. and in shows I watched growing up they always showed extreme cases of it. Like remember that show Hey Arnold? There was that character that had a paper bag to breathe into to calm her down when she had anxiety attacks – I thought anxiety was only if you experienced situations like that. I also was confused between stress and anxiety and how those are different. But I have found that anxiety can look like so many things. It can be: overthinking social interactions, a sense of doom or dread, procrastinating because the task (even super simple tasks) feel too overwhelming, mind jumping to worst case scenarios that are not logical, and much more – but these are usually what mine look like. Learning to identify what it actually is, was super helpful for me. And it is also so helpful that so many people talk about how NORMAL these feelings are. They are such normal feelings!!!!!
Here are some things I love to do to help ease my mind or return to a sense of calm..
- If I wake up and can tell right away that I am super anxious I will usually try to rearrange my day to be a bit more slow paced. If I have calls that day I will try to reschedule or if I have an obligation I will see if it is something I can reschedule. Usually that instantly makes me feel more calm. This has also made me incredibly understanding when people have to reschedule on me.. not that it always means they are feeling anxious but I am always beyond happy to reschedule something knowing it might make their day feel a little easier.
- The most important thing to do when I am having a bad day or just feeling anxiety is to literally say in my mind “This is totally normal. It is absolutely okay for me to be feeling this way. I just need to be easy on myself today.” The more I used to fight my emotions the more it would just perpetuate them .. (things like “ugh why do I feel like this?! I shouldn’t feel this way, nothing is wrong”) .. the thing is nothing has to be wrong to feel negative emotions. It is totally normal for emotions to ebb and flow and embracing this and just leaning into the negative emotions makes you feel so good. Allowing yourself to feel it all and having empathy for yourself is also ironically also is the thing that can help turn around the fastest — not TRYING to turn it around.
- I know it is obvious to say work out but truly working out for me just helps so much mentally. In fact if I go a few days without working out I can instantly feel it mentally. It is probably the #1 thing I do consistently that keeps my mood at a good baseline and helps me feel content, patient, and energized. If I feel anxious I think the most helpful thing to do is do a big cardio workout where you’ll really get a sweat in or follow an app where you don’t have to think about anything, you just have to follow the lead of the instructor. If I try to come up with my own work out sometimes it makes me more frustrated and defeated because I will give up or not know what to do or something. I like to just zone out and go when having those days.
- Baking uses all your senses and is such a healthy way to zone out and calm down. Almost always after I bake something I feel soooo much better. Not only because I enjoyed the process but I love the feeling of baking something yummy for myself and my family — it makes me feel proud of myself 🙂
- If I am not in a place where I can reschedule, like I have a busy day of important things that cannot be moved, I will shower with motown music and spend a little extra time getting ready just to feel extra good that day. I also think going through the drive thru at Starbucks (or whatever coffee shop) is so therapeutic.
- Nighttime hobbies have been so amazing for my mind. Sometimes at night my mind races with ideas, things I need to get done, overthinking interactions, wondering if what I said was taken the wrong way, etc. I love to just get all cozy, make my kid’s lunches, write out recipes, doodle, bullet journal, draw my kids pictures, anything! It is so mindless and I have been able to have such fulfilling nights which leads to better sleep for me.
- Last thing is just doing ANYTHING on my to do list. Even the smallest thing. It is so helpful to just feel accomplished even in the smallest way and it often leads to a domino effect for me where doing one things leads to another and before I know it I have had a pretty productive day.
I know there are a lot more but these are my big ones I go to! What do you guys do to help with anxiety?! Leave anything helpful in the comments that you think might help others! xoxoxo