Defying Anxiety: Tips, Tricks And Stories From An Anxious Person
Fardusi is an anxious person who is sick of it dictating her life. Here are her top tips for managing the dreaded anxiety.
When people first meet me the first thing they usually notice is how quiet I am…
When people first meet me the first thing they usually notice is how quiet I am and they’re not wrong about that observation but they are quick to assume that I’m just shy but what they don’t know is that I can’t help it. I want to be excited to meet new people. I want to be able to look forward to going to a place I’ve never been to. I want to look forward to events rather than dreading it but I just can’t help it. That unsettling feeling in my stomach is like a little monster that naps when I do but awakens to its full size every time I want to do something new and out of my usual routine, ready to fight and put me down. That fight includes me being forced to feel a certain emotion about a situation, usually negatively. Forced to think of the worst possible scenario, forcing me to talk myself out of the activity, forcing me to miss out on life.
Anxiety. An annoying dictator, dominating my everyday thoughts and feelings and, more often than not, making me lose out on enjoying my everyday life. My life is constantly filled with ‘what ifs’ and ‘buts’. I would love to be able to live a life where I’m not made to constantly second guess myself in every situation and talk myself out of them but unfortunately that’s not the case. So, what do I do to make my life a little less stressful and take more control of it from the clutches of the dominating dictator that is anxiety? Here are some tips on how I try to take it down.
A Positive Outlook
This is easier said than done but one of the things I force myself to do to overpower anxiety is to think of the positive aspects of situations. I was told by my mum the other day to buy some fairy liquid soap and milk from the shop near my house and of course anxiety makes even this simple task seems like the most difficult and challenging thing in the world. ‘What if you get the wrong soap? What if the milk you get is actually spoilt the next day? What if you forgot the correct amount of money to take? What if you give too much money to the cashier and waste your mum’s money that she trusted you with? What if you’re never trusted with money ever again?’
These were just the few questions I got nagged about by my oppressor so to shut it up I tried to think of as many positive outcomes from buying soap and milk (as bizarre as that sounds) but it encouraged me as I thought about how I could have my favourite cereal and how there won’t be as many dirty dishes. It’s a weird satisfaction that I have that everything is in order and clean but a positive outlook helps my mind feel like everything would be in order.
Writing Things Down
As an aspiring journalist, I love to write. I will write down anything and everything no matter how big or small. It may be something as small as noting down a quote from a book I read or something I ate for lunch that was particularly pleasant. This habit has helped me to face my anxiety and come to terms with how I’m feeling, why I’m feeling like this, what caused this feeling to emerge and what I think will happen.
Dread is the feeling that seems to come up a considerable amount of times.
Dread is the feeling that seems to come up a considerable amount of times. I dread the future and what it might entail for me. My judgment is then usually clouded as so many possible scenarios are battling out in my head, desperate to come out as the worst possible one which in itself can cause stress and frustration. So, to control this, I write down everything whizzing around, from emotions to scenarios and through this I can actually process what it is exactly that I’m dreading.
Once I have noted down these things I read them over and over again which can seem tedious but that is the point. By reading those worst possible scenarios to yourself they become boring and irrelevant which makes you think as to why you were dreading it in the first place because more often than not your anxiety can make up the wildest things and once you’ve actually got it down, it doesn’t seem to be that big of a deal anymore because it just sounds completely ridiculous on paper. As a result, I feel like a weight has been lifted and that I can actually go out and do the activity which of course is my main goal.
Effective anxiety reduction is often about distraction, since your mind can be your worst enemy when you have severe anxiety symptoms. A very effective technique is to talk to someone you like and trust, especially on the phone. I’m usually very hesitant to talk about my anxiety but I’ve found it helpful to tell someone I feel anxious and explain what I’m feeling. Talking to nice people keeps my mind off of the symptoms, and the supportive nature of friends and family gives me that added boost of confidence.
One of the most useful distractions for myself is music.
I’ve suffered from a number of panic attacks so the thought of having someone that can watch over me helps feel more confident that if something was wrong, I would be looked after. One of the most useful distractions for myself is music. Music has a massive impact on your emotions so while many people find it soothing to listen to angry music when you’re angry or sad music when you’re sad, the truth is that this type of music will only help you get in touch with those negative emotions. The key is to choose the right music that represents how you want to feel, rather than how you’re feeling in the moment; happy or relaxing. (Insert image
Let It Out
Anxiety is interesting, because when I try to fight it, it seems to fight back twice as hard. It’s not clear why that occurs, but most likely the stress that your body goes through in order to control the stress of Anxiety only makes it worse, as does the effort it takes to try to not feel your natural feelings. So rather than have any desire to stop anxiety, an interesting coping strategy is to go overboard embracing it. I like to call it the “going crazy” technique. When I’m feeling anxious, I find a place that I can be alone and go absolutely mad. Yelling at mirrors. Screaming. Punching pillows. In a way, making fun of the things I wish I can do. I have a bit of fun with it, but simultaneously lets out all of my emotions. Throwing stuffed animals. Flailing my arms and jumping around. I let myself feel like I’m flinging out all of the emotions, and then some, to the point where I feel a bit silly, but I keep going with it. This lets me embrace the anxiety and not try to fight it, while also giving me an opportunity to hold it back. It’s best to make sure no one is around, and don’t break anything important to you, but as long as what you’re doing is safe it can help you feel quite relaxed.
Killing the tyrant that is Anxiety may seem impossible but doing these little activities at least helps me to gain more control over its dictatorship of my mind little by little every day. In the near future, I hope I can go to the shops without freaking out on whether I get the right milk. I hope I can just have the confidence to do the things I enjoy without second-guessing myself every time. I hope that I can defy the dictation of Anxiety. And I hope you can too.
To get more help or advice on how to deal with your anxiety you can go to the Resilience Lab. These sessions are with trained support workers who provide psychological tips, techniques, ideas and resources. Click on the link to find out more.