Experiencing anxiety is far from uncommon. Feeling fear or apprehension when you’re faced with uncertainty or potential harm is a normal biological reaction and as our surroundings become more and more unpredictable, we are driven into a constant state of fight-or-flight.
Anxiety disorders, in which anxious feelings are constant and overwhelming to the point of hindering daily activities, are the most widespread mental illness in the world with around 40 million people affected. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): “Some general triggers that affect most people are a stressful job or work environment, driving or travelling.”
However, less common than the affliction is the diagnosis; according to the NIMH, only 37% of the people affected by anxiety disorders seek treatment, even though anxiety is highly treatable. This can be due to stigma against mental illness, fearing judgment from others, or lack of resources. While professional help may be unavailable for some, there are some known strategies that can help anyone manage anxiety, like the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique. However, context is important: not all strategies work in every circumstance and for every person. We have rounded up some empirical advice on managing anxiety from all over the internet to show that this process is different for everyone and to encourage you to find your own coping mechanisms.
Verbalise your emotions
Whenever you find yourself unable to fulfil a task, take a second to acknowledge how you’re feeling. Take the circumstance out of it, and express it out loud. Don’t say “I’m nervous because I’m about to do a job interview”, just say “I’m nervous”. Acknowledge the state that you’re in, in and of itself, and accept it. This is you nervous, and that’s alright.
Make positive affirmations
Fight fear and negativity by simply taking a second to think about what’s going right in your life.
Listen to music
Music is a powerful catalyst for emotions. Try making playlists that you can listen to when you’re feeling anxious. You can curate songs for different purposes: relaxing songs to calm the jitters, meaningful songs to break out of numbness, or songs to sing out loud to when you’re feeling tense.
Think through your fears
Anxiety clouds the mind with dread and doubt but you can try to clear it with kindness, patience… and logic. Ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” Then ask yourself, “what would I do if that happened?”. Make a plan to resolve the worst case scenario and you will tackle what comes with a little more confidence.
Maybe you’re worried about an upcoming unavoidable event and there’s nothing left for you to do but worry. You can do simple activities to take your mind off these matters, like washing the dishes, taking your dog for a walk, drawing or dancing. It will calm your mind and, consequently, your body.
Give your bottled emotions a healthy outlet by letting yourself cry. Crying brings catharsis and physical benefits.
Anxiety thrives on uncertainty. Sometimes, starting anything new seems too daunting. Look for comfort in the things that you know before embarking on something different. This can take the form of a call to your parents, visiting your favourite coffee shop or rewatching Friends for the umpteenth time.
What are some of your anxiety coping mechanisms? Let us know in the comments.