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4 Things That Help Ease My Anxiety

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I have always struggled with anxiety. Every day, my anxiety is very present and very real. The symptoms vary from day to day; sometimes I have horrible and intense anxiety attacks where I find breathing very difficult, I tense up, my chest becomes incredibly tight, my body shakes and I feel genuinely scared. I need help to calm down from these. Other days, I may feel emotionally overwhelmed, tired and detached from the world. My chest becomes tight and I may feel very low on energy, my brain and memory become hazy and I forget the simplest of things. One time I even forgot how to work the oven.

There have been many times where I’ve been having a conversation and repeated exactly what I said moments before. Luckily people are patient with me and I’m very thankful for that. The latest incident was when I had no memory of taking my night time medication, even though I remember unwrapping it from the packaging and pouring a glass of juice to take it with.

My anxiety festers in many different ways and I’m still trying to manage these symptoms, especially when I have to leave the comfort of my home. I have four things that help ease my anxiety, even if it’s just for a few minutes:

1. Pebbles

I carry at least two pebbles or colorful gems/crystals with me everywhere I go. I always have them with me. They give me something to fidget with to ease my trembling hands or dissociating mind.

2. Music

I’d be lost without music — anything with a beat, anything to get my fingers tapping. Music helps me feel grounded and focused on the here and now. It allows me to focus on one thing, to count the beats in a song and to be absorbed by music rather than the sounds of the world around me.

3. Counting

Counting brings me a lot of ease and comfort; from counting when I do my breathing exercises, to counting beats in a song and to setting tasks when I leave my home. If I have to leave my home, I give myself a task to distract myself from the intensity of my anxiety. Usually that task is to count how many dogs and cats I can see. I love animals, so counting to see how many cats and dogs I can spot brings me a temporary relief and comfort.

4. Lists

I’m forever making lists, from small to-do lists to check lists. When I have to leave my home I have a fear that the safety of my flat is at risk, and when I am out it’s all I think about which causes my anxiety to worsen. I now make a safety check list — visual tick boxes to ease my mind when I am out and about. The tick boxes include unplugging appliances, securely locking windows and counting to 20 when I am locking the doors. I also have a medication check list — a simple ticking box aide where I list my different medications and tick the box once I have taken a certain medication. I also note down the time so I am fully aware of when I took them.

I rely on these four things every day. They help me, and at times, they bring me a sense of ease. I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me.

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Thinkstock photo via Victor_Tongdee

Originally published: July 28, 2017
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