With pictures of my cat to provide some serotonin 🙂
For most of my life I have dealt with chronic and severe stress and anxiety. It’s not a pretty picture all the time! Through the years of experience that I have had with different symptoms – physical and mental – I have learned ways of coping that work for me. I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you today!
Cycling through different coping mechanisms has been a common theme throughout my life. Some healthy, and definitely some unhealthy! Some examples of healthy coping skills that I have picked up have been alternative acupressure therapy (tapping), light exercise, eating things that fuel my body, and getting enough sleep. These things may seem simple, and you may be asking “How could these little things actually help me?”.
I used to refuse to try some of these more simple coping skills because I truly thought I was beyond repair. I also thought that I would just have to find the right combination of medication in order to live a normal life. This turned out to not be true for me, personally. I tried just about every combo and the side effects seemed to just make things worse. I was confused and frustrated!
*DISCLAIMER* I am not entirely against medication for anxiety! It works amazing for some people. <3
It is important to exhaust all options before turning to medication. Meds can be addictive chemicals that are very difficult to withdrawal from! Personally, it took three months of awful withdrawals to work my way off of what I was taking. I SLOWLY and under a DOCTOR’s advice weaned off of what I was taking, and it worked well for me.
This will not be the right option for everyone!!!! TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR before choosing to make ANY changes to your medication!
I believe that taking care of yourself is #1. When I don’t pay close attention to my basic needs, and listen to what my body is telling me (Thirsty, hungry, need movement, need rest etc.), I begin to feel more anxious. Sometimes with the way life goes, this can be extremely difficult to keep up with. When things get busy, basic needs can be set on the back-burner.
This is where it becomes important to have a big ole kit of coping skills. OPTIONS! 🙂
Coping Skill #1:
GO EASY ON YOURSELF! LISTEN TO YOUR BODY!
When you mess up, give yourself room. Don’t berate yourself :(. It is OKAY to mess up. In fact, if you aren’t messing up, you are doing something wrong :).
It can be difficult to hear what your body is trying to tell you! This is why it is important to, in your own way, spend time looking inward and connecting with yourself.
Maybe try asking yourself these questions:
- Have I eaten something beneficial today?
- Have I had enough water?
- Did I move my body and or been outside in nature today?
- What emotion am I feeling right now? Is it happy, sad, angry, stressed… or something else?
- Is there pain in my body right now? Am I feeling nauseous?
Once you have answered some or all of these questions, spend some time coming up with possible remedies that are simple to accomplish. Maybe all you need to feel better is a cold or hot shower. Or, maybe what will help is calling someone you can trust and talking to them. Some of the other skills on this post may be a good option as well.
Coping Skill #2:
Tapping. BILATERAL STIMULATION!
Okay, this may sound crazy and pointless, but this has been SO important in my anxiety-managing journey. There’s this thing called bilateral stimulation that can involve tapping your arms or legs with your fingertips – alternating left to right, or listening to tones that alternate playing in your left then right ear.
Tapping! This can take on many different forms. some of my favorite ways are…
Giving myself a hug and tapping my fingers back and forth slowly.
Placing my hands on the tops of my thighs and tapping back and forth slowly.
These can be very discreet, so you can tap under the kitchen table, under a blanket, etc. and be able to quietly help yourself in the middle of an interaction. I have done this many times! Not that it would matter if people do see you – but I find that sometimes it helps me to keep things more discreet. Sometimes questions make things worse. So this is a great option!
Bilateral tones in headphones.
There is an app that my therapist recommended to me, called anxiety release, that has tracks that play a calming voice paired with alternating tones. Sometimes I listen to this while also tapping, to help me fall asleep or to get through a panic attack. This is another wonderful layer of action that I can take to reduce my anxiety in any given situation.
Coping Skill #3
Friends, family, loved ones.
Ask for help. This is a sign of strength!!! Feel free to message me on Facebook or Instagram @anna.canfieldcreations or send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions, or if you just need someone to talk to. I am here for you! There are people that love you and would love to help you – sometimes all it takes is getting a bit vulnerable and talking about what you are feeling.
Hugs are frickin amazing, okay? Try hugging somebody when you are having a panic attack. Maybe ask them to squeeze a bit tighter. It is healing :). Holding hands. Cuddles. These are all things that you can do to help balance things out when you are feeling anxious.
Coping Skill #4:
Comfort shows, movies, books and video games. And other activities!
Movies/Shows I like to watch when anxious:
Over the Garden Wall (Hulu)
Howl’s Moving Castle (YouTube movies/Amazon prime)
Adventure Time (Hulu)
Little House on the Prairie
Comfort Video Games (Nintendo Switch):
All of these provide me with a distraction for when I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed. doing an activity that occupies my thoughts helps me tremendously for those days when the anxiety lingers.
Thank you SO much for reading!
Please contact a loved one if you feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Also feel free to message me on Facebook and Instagram @anna.canfieldcreations or email me – email@example.com if you have any questions or just need to talk!
Here is the number for the Suicide prevention hotline: 800-273-8255
Not gonna lie, I’ve had to call this number before. I have also had to bring myself to a hospital for this reason. YOU ARE NOT ALONE IN THIS! Your story is a unique one, not everyone will understand what you are going through. But there are people out there who can relate to you and help you feel understood. You’re loved, cherished and adored. <3
This was a tough one to write, but I want to make it a point to be open about mental health. It is important to spread awareness :).
Love and hugs and blessings,