From my experience, dealing with anxiety sucks, period. There’s no point trying to sugar coat it: having intrusive thoughts, irritability, and struggling to fall asleep – just a few things I’ve gotten used to dealing with – aren’t pleasant. However, for a lot of people, myself included, dealing with anxiety is a daily issue.
I’m in no way a professional, and if you need that kind of help you should seek it – there’s no shame in realizing you need help. However, I wanted to write this article to talk about some things that have helped me deal with my anxiety and the increased pressures lockdown has put on it.
Oftentimes, my anxiety manifests itself when I’m in a relaxed state and not doing school work or some other type of productive activity. It’s usually when my brain isn’t focused on doing a specific task and I have time to dwell on various aspects of my life. In lockdown, these times are ever increasing, as the time I spend out shopping, working and just interacting with people, in general, is limited. What I have been trying to do is stick to a routine. This helps me to fill my days with various activities to limit the amount of time I sit letting my thoughts spiral into a never-ending black hole of overthinking. Different routines work for different people and sometimes, I still have to adjust my routine when I find parts that aren’t working for me. Overall, sticking to a general routine provides some structure to my day, which is beneficial for me.
In order to fill what now seems like endless hours of the day, I have begun finding hobbies or things that interest me in my free time. Although it’s relaxing to just sit on my phone sometimes, I find that social media isn’t always the best for my mental health. I’m definitely guilty of going on my phone to look at TikToks for ten minutes and it turning into an hour. That being said, I have been trying to limit my time on my phone. Before the pandemic, I kept myself very busy, so now it has been a great time for me to develop new skills and just spend time doing hobbies I enjoy. I have started to learn some basic coding and other computer software skills. I also really enjoy reading. Having enjoyable activities and things that engage my brain help me to avoid dwelling on anxious thoughts as much as I would if I was just sitting around.
Another thing I’ve noticed is that my anxiety often correlates with my sleep. This is a rather unfortunate pattern because my anxiety causes me to lose a lot of sleep. I often find myself lying awake for hours, struggling to fall asleep. Then, I find myself in a cycle of having my anxiety worsen; I’m overtired, but then not being able to get a lot of sleep because of that worsened anxiety. I’m sure you can see how that could go on and on. I’ve tried things such as melatonin to help calm myself and fall asleep easier, but they, unfortunately, don’t work for me. Recently, I have found that keeping my bedtime earlier and more consistent has helped. Also, getting into bed, putting my phone down and listening to a podcast helps to get my mind off things and relax. I’ve found that once I start to get drowsy, shutting off the podcast and playing quiet sleep or relaxation music often puts me to sleep (fingers crossed it keeps working). This has really helped me to get a better night’s sleep and in turn, prevents my anxiety from reaching the point where it begins to hinder my day-to-day life severely.
None of these things are absolute fixes! They are just things that I have found to help me, so please please please take the steps that are right for you and seek the help you need! I wrote this article so that if my experience could help someone in any way, even if it’s just by reading about someone else’s journey with anxiety and knowing they are not alone, I wanted to provide that.
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