20 Aug 5 Simple Ways I Keep My Anxiety in Check
In this series of blogs, we explore the realities of anxiety and depression through the lens of real-world first-person narratives from anonymous teens. What else can we learn about these issues? How can we work to overcome them together? Let’s talk about it.
Moving to another state for college was hard. Knowing that I wouldn’t have access to a therapist under my insurance was even harder. Managing anxiety is not a quick fix and there certainly isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
With the knowledge that finding a therapist who took my out-of-state insurance would be nearly impossible, I sought out free and easy ways to cope with my anxiety.
For a while, I felt like making time for myself was selfish. However, over the years, I have learned that anxiety is like any other illness; it takes time and energy to treat and will not just go away if I ignore it. I realized that building time into my schedule for self-improvement was not selfish at all, because my progress would ultimately benefit those around me as well.
By performing simple, stress-relieving tasks, I’ve been able to pretty successfully manage my anxiety while I am not in the financial place to see a therapist. Here are some of the ways I’ve been able to keep my anxiety in check.
I take time to journal.
When I’m feeling anxious, I’m not always able to express my emotions clearly. Putting my thoughts into words makes these feelings more tangible and, therefore, more manageable. In my journal, I like to write out everything that is making me anxious and then just leave it on the page.
Journaling exercises give me the opportunity to organize my thoughts, flesh out ideas, and, best of all, rant to an inanimate third party.
I exercise for an hour.
My favorite way to get out of a funk is to literally sweat it out. Even when I don’t lift the most weight or only do one lap on the track, the simple act of working out gives me mental clarity and more energy to go on with my day.
As a self-proclaimed klutz, it took me a few tries to figure out what type of exercise worked best for me. Sports had never really been my thing, but once I tried weight-lifting, I found a physical outlet for my anxiety that not only made me feel more in control of my mental health, but also made me feel strong. Taking just one hour out of my day to go to the gym makes all the difference in handling my anxiety.
I go for a drive.
Sometimes, getting figurative distance from a stressful situation isn’t enough. I want to be clear that, if you are having a major anxiety attack, getting behind the steering wheel is unadvised. However, when my anxiety is mild or I just can’t get something off my mind, going on a drive helps me to feel more centered.
There is something about feeling the wind in my hair and listening to my favorite music that calms me. Driving is a time when I have to be hyper-focused on what I’m doing and because of that, I don’t have space to plunge into negative thinking.
I talk to a friend.
When I’m not in a good headspace, my friends immediately notice. Do I always want to talk about what’s going on with me? Not necessarily, but I am usually glad that I did in retrospect. It’s hard for me to always accept that my friends want to hear about my problems because my worst fear is burdening them.
However, after addressing this with both friends and family members, I began to understand that the people who love me want to help me more than anyone. Once I accepted this and started sharing my feelings with close friends, I learned that my problems were not so unique to me and that most of my friends were experiencing a lot of the same issues.
I get fresh air.
I try to explain to people who don’t experience anxiety that anxiety attacks can feel like a crowded elevator with only a few square feet of breathing room. Whenever I’m feeling anxious or overwhelmed, deep breathing is the first thing to go for me. I have tried to do breathing exercises in my room, but what works best for me is just getting outside and taking in the fresh air.
Anxiety can feel both mentally and physically constricting, so being in an open space with plenty of room to breathe works to counteract it. Whether I’m outdoors for two minutes or two hours, being in nature helps to reduce my anxiety and restore my deep breathing.
Like I said before, anxiety does not have a quick fix, but performing one or all of these exercises regularly can play a major role in keeping it in check.