Do you get consumed by anxious thoughts?If you are reading this article, you probably have at some point in your life. Iâ€™m right there with you. I got diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder in 2014. I have been in therapy since December of 2013, and while at the time, it was a hard truth for me to accept, I have come a long way in the last few years and have found ways to cope. The following methods that Iâ€™m about to share are tips that worked for me. This article is my opinion. I am NOT a professional psychologist. I am like you. I donâ€™t have a degree in this field. But I have gone through my fair share of anxious meltdowns, and my brain still anticipates the very worst quite often. Here are five ways I have found to cope.
1. Write it down.My journal has been my best friend throughout my journey. In the last four years, Iâ€™ve filled three volumes. There are pages upon pages of irrational thoughts, pages that when I look back and reread them, Iâ€™m able to see that some of my worst fears didnâ€™t happen. It has helped me to start thinking with a different mindset. Letâ€™s say you are getting ready to go on a trip for a couple of weeks. Immediately, your thoughts start getting away with you. You start worrying about something happening on the plane ride. You are going to be late for your flight, they wonâ€™t let you check your luggage, you are going forget something big, the plane might crash, and you will end up stranded in a place you donâ€™t know, and then your luggage will get lost.
Sound familiar? Donâ€™t worry. I got a jolt there myself. Here is something you can do. WRITE IT DOWN. Grab a piece of paper, or a notebook or journal, and just write everything that you think might go wrong. List it out, no matter how big or small. When you get back, or when you get to your hotel room, reread it, and put a checkmark next to everything that DID happen. Chances are, there wonâ€™t be as many check marks as you initially thought.
2. Use a grounding technique.I have three different methods I use when Iâ€™m feeling anxious. I will describe them below. Many times, when my anxiety creeps in, I start to lose myÂ breath a little. That of course, scares me more, making me more anxious. I have tried these techniques with my daughter, and theyâ€™ve helped her significantly as well. We both have panic attacks, but these methods lessen them quite a bit.
Control your breathing.Take a deep, slow breath in (I count to 4 slowly), hold it for 4 seconds, then take 4 seconds to let it back out. Repeat this for a couple of rounds until you feel yourself relaxing a little.
Involve your SensesAnother grounding method I use is incorporating all five senses into my thoughts. List five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Or change the order. The key is to distract your brain a little bit and involve as many of your five senses as possible. Something else I do also is to describe my surroundings as much as possible. Here is an example: Iâ€™m in my front room at my house. My carpet is beige, and I am sitting in my comfortable office chair that has a lighthouse fabric on it. Behind my computer monitors, I have my bulletin board with a cute red floral fabric. I see a picture of my daughter and me when she was about ten years old.
Do you see what Iâ€™m doing? That got my brain off my anxious thoughts. Iâ€™m more relaxed after the breathing and can focus on my surroundings.