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Thread: Ways to handle anxiety

  1. #1
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    Ways to handle anxiety

    Hey. I'm sure many of you out there also have experienced bouts of anxiety. I've realized that I've had anxiety pretty much my entire life and I have health with it in numerous ways. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else. I've been trying to reshape my perspective on many things in my life. I have been dealing with depression for several years now. It's especially rough in the winter months and typically levels out in the summer. This past year has been a lot of up and down but I feel like I'm at a turning point in my life. As summer is approaching I can also feel naturally my moods are improving some. I've had many psychology classes and I've been through plenty of experiences and I've applied many different things that have helped me keep pushing through and in many cases I know all the go to methods to reduce anxiety but sometimes there is no way to avoid it either and you just have to accept it and decide whether or not you'll let it control you. All that being said, there are some days where you can have all the logic and wisdom in the world but you have a hard time listening to yourself.

    I'm just curious... What you do in your life to help process through your emotions and anxiety? Certain activities or hobbies? Counseling? Medication? Prevention of things that can trigger it? Etc.

    I've been trying to use natural methods. I'm going to counseling. I also use my hobbies to distract me from overthinking. Music and painting are my go tos. I'm proud I have been teaching myself guitar and singing and soon I may step out of my shell and play at an open mic that a friend of mine hosts. I try to think of positive people that have influenced my life and who are supportive. I remind myself of my accomplishments. Etc. It's a work in progress and requires baby steps. I try not to be so hard on myself.

    Sorry if this post is a bit ramble-y. I'd just like to see what others do incase there are some new ideas I can try out or things I haven't thought of in a while to try on days that I am in a rut and find it hard to climb out.

  2. #2
    Gold Member LikeWater's Avatar
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    I've struggled with severe anxiety since I was 19 or so (I'm 30) and although I have it way more under control than I used to, it's still a battle I have to deal with on a regular basis. I tried the medication route, I had a Xanax script for a while, got dependant and heavily addicted to them, and then went through trying a bunch of alternatives and basically none of it helped that much (except for the Xanax, it's TOO good, and ends up hurting you more in the end unless you're extremely careful. But as far as taking care of it's intended job, nothing is better.) so I kind of learned to just deal with it in my own ways.

    I think first of all you'll have to accept that some days you'll have bad spells and you'll just have to tough through them. I find that my worst enemy is being trapped in my own head where I let it build to a point that it should never have reached had I taken certain actions.

    Since you mentioned you're determined to use natural methods, I'd advocate for learning meditation more than anything else. It has done wonders for me and would do even more if I wasn't a lazy, procrastinating piece of crap who kept making excuses not to take the time to do it, even for just 5 minutes or so. Because the reality of it... compared to dopamine triggering electronics at everyone's fingertips, it's really quite boring at first and difficult to get over that hurdle, and just like therapy or anything worth doing, it takes time and it takes effort and it takes a deep resolve to want to get better.

    Start your practice of meditating as simple as you want to, as long as you're doing it. And all it entails is taking this overactive, overthinking mind of ours and forcing your mind to ignore that and focus on something else. Usually breathing, a practical method anyone can do. It's just about pursuading your mind to focus only on your breathing. Watch it, keep your mind on it. You don't need to change your breathing up any, you don't have to do any sort of ritual. It truly is as simple as sitting comfortably, eyes closed, and paying full attention to your breath. Taking note of your inhales and your exhales and forcing your mind to push away all else and keep your focus on that.

    It's a skill, it's going to take practice, but even if you can manage just two minutes of this you'll have succeeded. Then it's just about getting better, being able to do it for longer, and once you're getting fairly adept at it you'll one day open your eyes and realized 30 minutes passed. And you'll also realize how much calmer and at peace you are. Don't get discouraged if those other thoughts start slithering their way in, and you shouldn't even make it apoint to keep them out at all costs. Your mind will naturally wonder to all sorts of places. The key is simply to let them come and go, and get right back to following your breath. In... and out.

    It's a technique that has been benefiting people for centuries but now western culture is finally catching up and they're realizing the myriad of benefits that come along with doing this. And the best part is, you can meditate just about anywhere. If you have two minutes with nothing to do, meditate real quick. Keep honing that skill where you can. As you get better at it, you'll finally find yourself easily pushing away unnecessary, negative thoughts because you've been practicing exactly that. You'll be calmer and less confrontational. You'll learn what's worth actually focusing on how to let the other things pass on by.

    In a world where we're bombarded by so much information constantly and it seems inescapable, this is a method that allows you to do just that. In a world where it's all about "DO DO DO", the cure is actually to be perfectly content with doing nothing.

    Aside from that, and I hope you give it a real shot without writing it off, counseling is always a good idea as well. I wish you luck on your journey to battling this and I hope to hear one day of the progress you have made.

  3. #3
    Gold Member Cherylyn's Avatar
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    What helps me whenever I feel anxious or depressed are the following activities: Daily exercise, diet, hydration (I'm also a teetotaler), hobbies such as quilting (for my family, baby quilts & gift quilts), greeting card embossing / stamping, calligraphy, knitting / crocheting, embroidery / cross-stitching, cooking & baking for my family and others, wax sealing envelopes, scrapbooking and fancy cake decorating.

    I've since joined a book club and really enjoy that. It's a potluck, we eat dinner, discuss the book (after reading it at home), nibble on dessert, socialize some more and go home. It is intellectually stimulating.

    I meet my BFF for a morning walk, dine out for lunch and walk some more. We're besties ever since 4th grade. She was my maid-of-honor and I too was in her bridal party. Both of our sons are the same age. It's an all day outing once a month. I meet other friends for coffee and / or walks. I meet some family members and in-laws at least once a month.

    For outings, I enjoy history museums, natural science museums, art museums, tours, parks, bike rides, tide pools and picnics at the beach. (In my recent past, I enjoyed daily walks with my 14 yr old Golden Retriever, truly man's best friend to the truest sense of the word. Someday, I'd like another dog but not now. We took her everywhere with us ever since she was a puppy.)

    At bedtime, I enjoy catching up on reading my stack of library books from my nightstand. I enjoy great movies as well.

    These healthy distractions make me feel happy and calm.

    I also enjoy being with those who have an intelligent, witty sense of humor because they keep me on my toes. Life is too serious as it is so I appreciated lightheartedness every now and then.

    I also talk to my mother on the phone whenever I feel like it. She has time since she recently retired. She teaches me a lot about jerks on this Earth, makes me laugh and whenever I share my stories with her, she says it's old hat and nothing she hadn't heard before regarding everyone who wronged her when she was young. She can relate and has a lot of empathy. I like that. She gets it. Nothing surprises her anymore regarding the dark side of human nature. She's terrific when it comes to moral support. I've learned a lot from her. My BFF is insightful, too.

    I appreciate my husband's insights as well.

    Most of all, what helps me is my mother reminding me to count my blessings. My mother said the secret to happiness is to be grateful. Gratitude.

  4. #4

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    You sound like an amazing person who has done a whole lot to overcome/deal with your anxiety. So many great things you do! The other 2 posters have great ideas, too. I do a lot of the things they do, too: reading, hobbies, being with fun/funny people, the outdoors, my dog, etc.
    I view anxiety as a normal part of being human, and in this day and age of social media, it has become intensified. I don't believe our brains were designed to take in so much information (with not enough time to process it all), to hear news of the entire world (back in the day, it was just local news), and to engage more with electronics than with real people. It's no wonder that anxiety rates are skyrocketing.
    If you're into social media, you can greatly reduce your anxiety by simply cutting it out. Yes, it's hard, but those who've done it have discovered an unbelievable reduction in their anxiety level.
    You mentioned about it being worse in the winter. Do you live in an area that gets little sun? You might be experiencing SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). You can get your Vitamin D level checked even if you don't live in a place with little sun, as that can be a simple treatment to help you feel better. Check with your doc. Exercising is also a huge anxiety-reliever. Especially if it's in a beautiful place where you can SEE a sunset or a lovely view, SMELL flowers or the oxygen-rich forest, HEAR birds or ocean waves (turn off that music and just listen to nature!).
    I agree with LikeWater that being trapped in your own head is your own worst enemy. Our brains love to trap us in a neverending loop of self-loathing, self-deprecation, self-focus....notice the pattern? SELF. We become obsessed with what others think of us, what we didn't do well enough, the "what if's", or thinking hateful things towards those who've hurt us. The only solution I've found for self-focus is other-focus...focus on helping, serving, loving, forgiving, being with others. It gets our minds off ourselves and blesses others. We all need to be noticed and cared about, so go do that, especially for someone who rarely gets noticed or cared about (a lonely neighbor, old folks who are forgotten in nursing homes, foster kids, homeless, etc). There are a zillion ways to pour out your time or talents on behalf of others!
    I also like what Cherylyn said about gratitude. So true. Especially here, where we have so much more than most people in the world, and yet we always want more and we complain about such little things. I started a gratitude journal a few years ago when I realized that I was becoming too complain-y...I wrote 3 things in it each day, and at the end of the year I had over 1000 things! On my worst days, I'd write something like "I woke up" or "I'm breathing." Sounds silly, but those really ARE things to be thankful for that we usually take for granted. I think it permanently changed my view of life and gave me an "attitude of gratitude."
    Last but not least is my faith in Christ. I don't know where you stand on that, so I'll just say that He is my rock, my comforter, my counselor, my strength, my hope, my joy, my wise teacher, my best friend who will never leave me, betray me, or forsake me. My faith isn't blind...I studied the Bible and commentaries for awhile before I decided to follow Jesus. I had previously been an agnostic, but couldn't really explain why...I was just going with the culture. It made more sense to me to be able to explain to myself and others WHY I was rejecting God and Jesus, but to do that I had to read about who they are, why they exist, etc. It made all the jumbled pieces of my life come together and I was set free from a lot of pain, unforgiveness, hate, and confusion.
    Being a Christian doesn't make everything perfect, but I'm so solid in my purpose/meaning of life and have so much hope for eternity. This in itself relieves most of my anxiety! Prayer and telling myself the truth using scripture (rather than the lies my own brain tells me or the culture tells me) are medicine for the soul. I wish you well and hope you find relief with everyone's ideas.

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  6. #5
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    Originally Posted by LikeWater
    ...went through trying a bunch of alternatives and basically none of it helped that much (except for the Xanax, it's TOO good, and ends up hurting you more in the end unless you're extremely careful.
    Yeah... Xanax was too good for me. I started taking it when I didn't really need to and ended up throwing up so much one time - luckily that scared me enough to not get addicted and I stopped using it. Well, unfortunately I'm still searching for answers to help control or quiet down my anxiety, as nothing else has really helped. But yep, be careful with these kinds of drugs, everyone.

    Will be reading these too for tips :)

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    Platinum Member catfeeder's Avatar
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    Consider running relaxation meditations on YouTube to help you fall asleep and condition your mind to learn how to relax on command. Skip the subliminal stuff, and use the ones by Dauchsey where the suggestions are audible. You can learn how to habitually switch the voice you run in your head into your own private coach.

    I've found it helpful to grasp that worry doesn't control outcomes. Instead it's a form of self torture where you suffer bad outcomes that never happen, or if they do happen, you've suffered twice. Learn how to target worst cases scenarios and form a backup plan for those, so then you've been productive rather than destructive and can let go.

  8. #7
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    "What helps me whenever I feel anxious or depressed are the following activities: Daily exercise, diet, hydration"


    Copied because I agree. Also I do 4-7-8 breathing -google the weil method . Increasing water intake from 6-8 glasses to 10 to 12 so improved my mood/calm. I did not do it for that reason at all and then a friend said to me "you know when I drink water it relaxes me" - that's when I started noticing it. Also noticing small stuff -get in the habit of it so that it's a go to method for you when you feel anxiety /tension coming on. I had a rough morning and then I noticed during my exercise walk how utterly gorgeous the route was -it's a newer one for me- the light in the trees, perfect temp, light breeze -don't allow yourself to clump that into the whole cliche of "yes, notice Nature" or the like - really get down to the nitty gritty and what you notice, what means something to you. Maybe it's a tree or a specific building along a skyline -whatever. I'm not talking about fancy meditation (although people swear by mindfulness/meditation and I know I should try it !) - I mean really basic stuff that forces you to change your breathing, to refocus, to redirect.

    Good luck!

  9. #8
    exercise has been the best remedy for anxiety for me, I feel much better afterwards and it helps tackle my wieght issues that causes extra stress.

  10. #9
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    Originally Posted by namastehappy
    exercise has been the best remedy for anxiety for me, I feel much better afterwards and it helps tackle my wieght issues that causes extra stress.
    Same exact thing here.


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