Mental Health is a growing issue around the world. Whether that be because people are more accepting of mental illness, people understand the symptoms better now, or because the younger generations have more mental illnesses than past generations, we have to learn how to deal with the challenges of mental illness and continue on with our lives. One of the more common issues is anxiety, so as a person who has anxiety I decided to create a list of small things that I do to help with my anxiety to help you with your anxiety, whether you are diagnosed or simply a stressed out person.
None of these things can replace the value of a trained, professional therapist. If your anxiety is a serious problem, please take the time to go see a therapist or counselor on campus.
- When my anxiety gets really bad my go-to is breathing exercises. I call them "exercises," but simply focusing on your breathing and slowing it down can help calm your nerves after a while. The most important part is to only think about your breathing, don't let your mind wander because slowing your breathing is your only goal for the time being.
- When there are a billion thoughts in my head and I'm worrying about each and every one of them, I love to journal. Being able to write out your thoughts, feelings, fears, in a place without judgement is a great way to get things off your chest if you feel like you can't talk them out with someone.
- However, talking things out with a friend or family member that you trust can help immensely. Another person can shed light on your anxieties, help you accept them, or even help you conquer them. And even if the person doesn't have any helpful advice, the relief that being understood and heard can provide is amazing.
- Power naps. Not 5 hour long, spend the entire day in bed, naps, but 20 minute long power naps are my best friend. I'm not sure if this actually helps with anxiety, but when life feels overwhelming and I feel like I just can't do anything else, but I have more stuff I need to do that day, I take a power nap. It's the perfect amount of time to give your brain a break and recharge to have the energy to take on the rest of the day.
- If you can't sleep, another good way to take a break is to make yourself a healthy snack and watch a single episode of a favorite show, preferably a feel-good show. It's been proven that your diet can affect your mental status, so getting in the habit of eating fruit instead of cookies, and pretzels and hummus instead of potato chips, could help your anxiety in the long run. In order to use this tip, you must have a little self control though, since it is very easy to get sucked into a "one more episode" hole.
- My favorite method of dealing with a stressful day or week, however, is working out. Along with your diet, physical exercise is proven to help strengthen one's mental health. Many people, including myself, are hesitant to go to the gym, especially by themselves, because it can be stressful to workout in front of strangers and try to figure out the machines. Instead, I suggest workout classes. In a workout class someone tells you what to do, so no worries about figuring that out. My personal favorite is a spin class at a place called Pürvelo, which can be found in several college towns. The Pürvelo experience is different from others because there are no mirrors, all the lights are off, and many of the instructors end up giving an inspirational speech whilst pushing you to work as hard as you can without pressuring you to work harder than you can. This is my favorite 45 minute long escape from life because it leaves me feeling so much stronger afterwards.
There are many more methods to deal with anxiety, but these are the ones I use most. Whether it be a way to confront your anxiety, like journaling, or simply escape from it for a little while, like working out, I hope that you take these tips and use them to help you get through the day.