In our fast-paced world, we are constantly pressured to do better. To be better. No matter what we do, it is never enough. We are expected to be perfect, to stretch ourselves past our limits, and to never complain. We are not supposed to break.
But sometimes, we do break.
It is OK. It happens to all of us, I promise, and you are not alone.
Coupled with other stressors in our lives and a chemical imbalance in our brains, mental illnesses are more common than not for our generation. Anxiety is ever-present in our lives, and it is nearly impossible to ease the feelings that can be quite debilitating.
There are a lot of ways to cope with anxiety and to make managing it easier. No two people are the same, and these might not work for you, but I urge you to give any one of these a try.
1. Shift your focus
Imagining something ridiculous or bizarre can get your mind off the things bothering you.
2. Lay off the caffeine
Many of us live with a metaphorical caffeine drip attached to our arms, but sometimes that extra buzz feeds your anxiety.
3. Create a music playlist specific to your mood
This can take your mind off of whatever is bothering you, and you can come back to it next time you are feeling that way.
I am not talking about crossing your legs, floating off the ground, and humming. Deep breathing exercises relax your body. In and out. Find your center and refocus your energy.
5. Visualize your anxiety
This goes hand in hand with breathing exercises. Visualize your anxiety tightly wound into a ball. With every breath, watch it slowly grow smaller and smaller.
6. Write it down
Even if you do not understand what you are feeling, write your thoughts down as you go. Write them in a journal, on a napkin, on your phone. Lock them away, reflect later, or rip the page to shreds. Writing can be incredibly therapeutic.
7. Go on a drive
Drive to the outskirts of town or even around your block. Put all your energy into the task at hand.
8. Walk away
Sometimes, it is best to leave whatever it is you are doing and revisit it later. Go for a walk, watch a movie, make your favorite meal, take a bath, hang out with friends. Do something you enjoy, something that will give you a little control when you are feeling helpless.
9. Be with your people
I know other people can be overwhelming when you are already feeling anxious, but surrounding yourself with friends or family — whoever it is that makes you feel safe — can calm you down immensely. Just be with the people who make you feel home.
10. See a therapist
There is no shame in asking for help. Therapy can be transformative, even for people not struggling with mental illnesses. It is not for everyone, but it is certainly worth trying. It could change your life forever.
Living with a mental illness is hard, one of the hardest things a person will ever face, and many of us do it every single day. Every person is unique, and what works for some will not work for others. I hope one of these helps you out, in one way or another.
If you take anything away from this, make it this: