My Anxiety Toolbox
Coping with my severe anxiety is an ongoing process. Over the years I have developed a “toolbox of things” which I use to deal with it. Having a variety of “tools” and strategies can be handy because not all are useful or appropriate for each situation.
1. I work with a doctor for medication. I have two types of medication. The first is medication I take daily to keep my anxiety under control. The second is medication to take as needed when I am dealing with panic attacks.
2. I have a counselor for support and to work on cognitive strategies to change my patterns of thinking. Anxiety attempts to control my mind, and it is important to me that I remain in control of my thoughts and feelings as much as possible. Working with a counselor helps me do this.
3. I avoid extremely stressful situations and limit the amount of stress I am under each week. Stress can contribute to anxiety so I monitor my stress levels and stressful activities and make certain I do only one stressful thing per day.
4. I try to eat healthy foods and exercise so I remain healthy. That involves choosing fruits, veggies, protein and drinking water. I walk, do cardio exercise and lift weights at least five days a week.
5. I maintain a positive support system. My family and carefully selected friends work together to assist me as I attempt to manage my anxiety and navigate dealing with people, places, and things.
6. I meditate daily. To help with this, I have downloaded meditation tapes on my phone that meet my various moods. Some are related to anxiety, some are specific to breathing, and some are basic meditation. They allow me to relax and recharge in 10 to 30 minutes.
7. I do yoga in addition to exercising and meditating three to four times a week. This helps me stretch and relax my muscles which I often tense due to my anxiety. I also must focus my mind on the exercises so anxious thoughts are excluded.
8. I use a weighted blanket. My blanket calms me when I am anxious and helps me feel centered. Some say its weight may help stimulate the brain to release various neurotransmitters that help me feel happy and calm, but I have yet to see a good scientific study.
9. I log off and turn off. When my anxiety begins to act up, I turn away from Facebook and TV and exercise, meditate or turn to my support system. Each of these activities may help to increase positive mood and calm my anxiety. Facebook and TV can have the opposite effect.
10. I hang out with my animals. Patting a dog is known to reduce blood pressure and increase happiness. I have three dogs and two of them work for me. Spending time playing with them can help with my anxiety.
11. I focus on hobbies that require mental concentration. Two of these include writing short stories and knitting complicated socks. Knitting socks is my favorite hobby when I anxious because it engages my head and my hands.
What’s in your toolbox?
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Thinkstock photo by as3d