Anxiety. Even the word in itself has a creepy ring to it. Anyone who has experienced real, full blown anxiety can tell you that it is more than just a little nervousness about an upcoming test. Anxiety is like a nasty bug that takes over a person’s mind, manifesting itself in all different sorts of ways. Sounds pretty freaky, right? At its worst, the effects are quite similar to depression. As college students, its easy to fall into spells of anxiety as we are all under so much pressure in the constant balancing act between school, friends, dating, family, money, etc. Ahh! Adult-ing is hard. Those who have experienced anxiety know that it can be incredibly difficult to tame, which is why many turn to medication. However, the problem with this is, people who experience full blown anxiety are usually prone to it. Meaning, it’ll probably come back at another stressful point in time. If you always rely on meds, you’ll never know how to truly fight back. Everyone is different, and has their own tools in calming themselves down, the trick is to learn which ones work best for you! I’ve come up with various methods which work for me personally, but hopefully they can be of some use to you as well, or at least guide you in finding your own methods.
1. MEDITATION VS. MEDICATION
I know, I know… meditation may seem rather… hippie. But trust me on this, it works in mysterious ways. This action involves finding a quiet place and spending time focusing on your breathing for 10 minutes or so. The mind will most likely wander, but you just try to draw it back to your breathing. It can be a little hard at first, but with practice it will come more easily. It works to relax the mind, and even helps with realization, which is important when your trying to face the source of the anxiety in the first place. At least, take the time to take a deep breath.
2. YOGA (FIND YOUR ZEN)
Very similar to #1, in that people normally meditate during yoga (yay, two birds with one stone!) yoga works to relax, and even occupy the mind, as you’ll be focused on the poses at hand. It’s meant to harmonize the body and create union between the soul and the body.
3. IN TIMES OF STRESS… MASSAGE
Once again, it’s a quiet place to focus on meditating, as well as the wonderful feeling of some stranger’s fingers pushing into your muscles. Toxins will be released, hopefully relieving some chemical imbalances going on (I don’t really know for sure, I’m a comm major). The point is, don’t be afraid to pamper and baby yourself when your body and mind are crying out for help.
4. WHEN IN DOUBT, EXERCISE
They say that exercise, when done regularly, can help with anxiety over time. I’m telling you, it must be the chemical imbalance mumbo jumbo. One good exercise sesh can help with symptoms for up to a few hours, which means immediate relief. Not only does a good work out get the blood flowing, but it also helps give a sense of productivity and purpose. A healthier diet may also elicit similar effects.
5. FORCE YOURSELF TO THINK POSITIVE IF YOU HAVE TO
The thing with anxiety is your thoughts become so extremely negative, and it feels as though you can’t pull your mind of this creepy slump. This is when you must forcefully think positive. What are you thankful for? What are things that make you happy? When a negative thought slithers into your brain, overshadow it with nicer thoughts, and eventually it’ll alter your patterns for thinking. In my experience, that is.
6. UNDERSTAND THAT EVERYTHING WILL BE OK NO MATTER WHAT
When anxiety really takes a hold of you, sometimes you feel like you are on the verge of losing it…like you are constantly on the edge of a cliff. The thing is, you need to know that you aren’t going to fall. These feelings will definitely pass, even if at the moment they feel like they never will. Thoughts are thoughts, and feelings are feelings, and sometimes they are just out of your control. Once you realize that, you find that the anxiety doesn’t have as much power as you thought after all.
7. TRY TO MAINTAIN LIFE IN THE WAY YOU NORMALLY WOULD
One of the best ways to beat anxiety is to try and ignore it. Sure, it’s kind of like ignoring that annoying person who says they’re not touching you when they’re finger is nearly touching your face, but like that annoying person, anxiety seems to be fueled by your reaction. If you freak out about the way you feel, you’re actively putting your focus on that. I believe its important to try and maintain life the way you normally do. Don’t hermit in your room, because in that case you’re only giving into the negative feelings and thoughts. Try your very best to occupy your mind with other things, if possible!
Like I said, everyone has their own rituals to get through hard times. Whether it be religion or healing crystals (yes, they’re legit and they’re awesome… don’t judge), it’s okay to find several sources to help you get through the negative feelings. If you need to confide in a friend or family member, it’s okay. If you need a hug from a stranger, go for it. Do things that fulfill you regularly. And if it’s absolutely necessary and you’re a firm believer in medication, that’s okay too. Best of luck to anyone going through anxiety, or depression, or anything for that matter. You are a strong individual who can handle and conquer anything. Positive energy, positive thoughts.