6 Steps to Follow When You’re Freaking the F*** Out



I’m freaking out, and I just want you to know that it’s okay if you are too. What am I freaking out about? It’s hard to tell, really. Anxiety always keeps me on my toes, so even when I do feel like everything is spiraling out of control, I can never quite zero in on what the problem is. Here are some ways I have found that I can help myself when things seem too tough.

First, take a deep breath. Take a few moments to just focus on your breathing. When there is so much going on in your head, it’s hard to pick it apart. Just focusing on breathing in and out can ground you and make you feel a little better. Whenever I take some time to simply breathe, I am able to tackle my issues a little better. If breathing in deep doesn’t work, then get away from your current surroundings. Whether that is getting a coffee, taking a shower, or even changing out of your clothes into something more comfortable.

Secondly, start with the small stuff. If you’re working on a long list of assignments, start with the smallest assignment. If you’ve got a lot going on at work, start with the smallest task. Starting with something small and easy will be better on your nerves because it will you give a feeling of accomplishment. While it may not be the big task you’re stressing about, doing something small will still make you feel productive.

Next, get a cold drink. Something refreshing—a pop, an iced coffee, or even some water—will feel good going down your throat and let you feel more relaxed. Also make sure to take frequent breaks. If you’ve just finished a task, take a few minutes to keep up that breathing exercise or even get something to eat.

Make sure you don’t go to hungry. Whenever I have a lot of work, I always put off eating because I need to do one more thing and then one other thing. These “one more things” just pile up until it’s well past time to eat, and I haven’t given my body any sustenance. Your mind is only as healthy as your body, so make sure you are treating it well!

Now, you are ready to tackle the big stuff on your list. The first thing to do when faced with a big task is to break it down into chunks. Only read the first five pages of the chapter or only make your bed first. Starting small and being able to finish the small task will remind you what you are capable of and allow you to finish the big task with confidence.

When working, don’t let your expectations paralyze you from trying your best. I have had many situations where I felt like I needed to do everything perfectly in order to feel good about what I’m doing. The fear of not doing something to perfection has often kept me from starting in the first place. But if you put the expectations aside and tell yourself that you are going to get something done within your own capacity, you will find it a lot easier to work.

Don’t do too many things in one day. Whenever I start working again, I convince myself that I can do it all. While it’s good to boost your confidence, putting too much on your plate once again will bring right back to square one. Be realistic about your limits for one day, and stay within those limits so you don’t overwhelm yourself.

Finally, have some faith in yourself. Remember that that feeling of “I’ll never get it done” or “I’m not good enough” is the anxiety talking, not you. Anxiety is not you, and you are not your anxiety. No matter what it is telling you, make sure you think of your true self and your capabilities.