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Mental Health

8 Tips to Help Cope With Anxiety That Work Because I Use Them Myself

Do you ever get overwhelmed by your thoughts? Trapped in your mind, struggling to breathe? Same, me too! These are a few of the many characteristics of anxiety. 

Anxiety is our body's natural response to a dangerous or potentially threatening situation. It is normal to feel anxious right before an exam or an important presentation. But in a worst-case scenario, it can be disruptive. 

I am no expert, but I have dealt with my fair share of anxiety. I don't know if I have an anxiety disorder but I know that I do have trouble coping with the anxiousness I feel. For a long time, I struggled without knowing what I was going through. I didn't even know it was called anxiety. Over time, I did my research and figured out tips and tricks that helped me cope with how I was feeling and overcome it. 

So here are eight strategies I use when I feel anxious. 

* It is important to understand that there is a difference between feelings of anxiousness and having a clinical anxiety disorder. This is different from the feeling of anxiety that everyone experiences and can lead to the point of debilitating stress and panic. In this case, larger interventions of a professional may be necessary. Check out this link for resources for Carleton students.

Journal

Not much of a writer? Does not matter. Write what comes to your mind. Write down your feelings. It does not have to be organized, well written, or readable. Write down what is taking over your mind. You can just throw some words onto a paper, have a whole conversation with yourself, or write down how you feel that day. 

Writing down your thought process and feelings can help you unload whatever that is stressing your mind. Sometimes we just need to release our mental stress. By writing it down, you transfer your thoughts to a paper rather than piling it up in your mind. Plus, you may be able to see how you are progressing. 

Anxiety can make you feel like your conflicts may never end, therefore leaving you with constant fear and worry. Seeing a visual proof that you are doing better than the day before will help fight that thought.

Meditate

I have always found meditation the hardest. Mainly because it means I have to sit alone with my thoughts. However, when you learn to meditate correctly, it can help you relieve yourself of the irrational fears that have a hold of you. 

My technique is to close my eyes for five minutes and visualize myself outside my own body -- switch perspectives. Often it shows me that whatever I am so overwhelmed by is not that much of a big deal. That I am going to be okay. 

Suppose you are one of those people who have tried meditation but were never able to do it properly. There are many websites and videos that provide guided meditations that can help you.

Calm and Headspace are websites specialized in offering guided meditation for better sleep, to combat anxiety and stress. YouTube also offers a wide range of free meditation videos and channels, here is a couple to get you started  The Mindful Movement and 10-Minute Meditation For Anxiety.

Rationalize

We are rational beings. Emotions have a strange power to cloud rationality. It is essential to understand that emotional responses are different from reasonable responses; however, it is just as real. Attempting to invalidate your emotions can be distressing. The goal is to understand and overcome them. 

Try to identify the issue that is bothering you. 

Understand your problem 

Seek a solution. 

If it is something out of your control, then help yourself understand that it is not for you to solve. What is not under your control is not for you to concern. 

Draw

Art is a form of expression. Use a form of art to let out your emotions. It does not have to be drawing, you can dance, sing, ice skate. You name it. 

Express yourself through an art form. Do it for yourself. It does not have to be beautiful or comply with the rules of typical works of art. Draw what comes to your mind. google art pieces to be inspired if you need to or just doodle something until you feel like its complete. 

Your work is not to be judged but to be felt by you. It may help you release or understand your own mind better. Emotions are not something everyone easily identifies. Art forms may help you visualize your emotions to help identify them.

Cry

This I not for everyone. But have a 'good ole cry sesh.' Trust me, letting out that cry that you have been trying so hard to hold in is such a relief. Let it all out; eventually, you will either tire out or won't feel like crying about it anymore. Either way, I see it as a win. 

Though I am not proud of this. I have often seen myself cry in front of a mirror and realize, "am I really crying this hard about something so pointless?" and just stop crying about it.

Take a walk 

Some fresh air did no one any harm. Take in the world around you, it will help you to feel grounded. You will get to see the beauty around you. The world we take for granted. 

Staying indoor, stuck within four walls, will make you feel like that is all there is to life. Going outside for a walk will give you perspective and a change of scenery. 

Exercise

I am sure you have heard it all. Exercise is a great way to help you stay focused. Pushes you to live in the present. It forces you to focus on one thing and take your mind off whatever that is bothering you. 

Also, it is a great opportunity to meet your personal body goals.

Do chores

You probably already hate the sound of this. However, mundane activities can help you redirect your focus to something you can accomplish. Doing dishes, laundry, cooking, cleaning, are activities that are practically muscle memory, it does not require your full attention. Chores have always been a way for me to work without being all over in my mind. Plus, the sense of accomplishment is rewarding. 

In addition, it allows you to feel in control of your life. By doing things you have control over will help let go of frustrations for not being able to control things that are not in your control.

You are not alone.

These are the tips and tricks I have learned during my journey of navigating my mental health. No two minds are the same, our experience is unique to ourselves. Therefore, not all of them work for everyone, it is up to you to explore and figure out what works best for you. Try new things if it does not work, try something else. The key is to stay consistent with whatever strategy you choose. 

Though our minds are unique, understand you are not alone. We all struggle with something. Do not be afraid to reach out for help, talk to your friends or family. Seek professional advice if needed. No issue is too small.

Sherlly Russel

Carleton '22

Your not so average, complicated, and multicultural brown girl. Born and raised in India, middle-school, and high school in china, university in Canada. Conversations about philosophy, cosmology, cross-culturalism, and religion are right up my alley!
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