5 Tools to Deal with Anxiety
I was elated when my director loved a presentation I'd given to the Marketing VP! She liked it so much that I was recruited for another presentation reserved exclusively for senior executives. It was the perfect opportunity to advance my career and earn a well-deserved promotion. My excitement lasted all of 15 seconds when she told me the dates for the presentation which coincided with a family trip I was really looking forward to. My heart immediately sank, my anxiety kicked into overdrive, and my search for tools to deal with anxiety was about to begin whether I liked it or not!
I was devastated! I debated for the rest of day. "Do I cancel my trip or do I decline the presentation?" I went back and forth in my head the entire night! I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. Plagued by thoughts like, "If you don’t take the project you will ruin your career and miss out on a huge promotion. If you go on your vacation it will look like you don’t care about your job. If I don’t do the project my boss will be offended and never offer me another opportunity!"
The next morning I continued to map out exactly how the conversation would go. Imagining my response to the directors' reaction. By the time I sat down to have a conversation with my director I was sweating and my stomach was in knots. As expected, she simply agreed to give the project to someone else and stated that there would be other projects in the future.
But the damage was already done! As soon I left her office I went to the bathroom and broke down. The anxiety from worrying about this conversation left me exhausted causing my heart beat race uncontrollably and to breathe heavily, and I collapsed. When I arrived at the hospital I diagnosed with severe dehydration and exhaustion. At that moment I realized I needed to learn how to deal with my anxiety.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older which is 18.1% of the population every year. Because Anxiety is label as a mental illness there is a stigma around discussing natural coping mechanisms. The reality is that not talking about our anxiety doesn't make it any less real. Here are 5 tools I found to be helpful when dealing with Anxiety.
1. Spark Creativity: Coloring for Adults
When I first heard about adult coloring books about 3 years ago I thought it was an interesting idea. I went to my local Barnes & Noble and found the book Color Me Happy. What sets it apart from many other coloring books is it was created by Art therapist Lacy Mucklow and artist Angela Porter. This guided coloring book is designed with therapeutically-themed chapters. They have done research on images that “spark joy”. The images range from babies to nature. You don’t have to get this exact coloring book. Test a few coloring books out by flipping through the pages to get a sense of how you react to the images inside.
2. Get Moving: Dance or Yoga
Dancing is not only a good calorie burner, but it also a great way to deal with anxiety. There are studios that are dedicated to “Dance movement therapy”. If you're not someone who is comfortable dancing around other people, just go to your room close the door and blast your favorite happy music. Nothing gets me moving quite like Happy by Pharrell.
Pro Tip: Make sure you have a happy dance playlist created ahead of time. It makes the impromptu dance session easier.
If dancing is not your thing, another form of movement that helps with anxiety is Yoga. I’ve met so many people who say yoga isn't for them before giving it a try. Yoga forces the mind to concentrate on the body especially if you are trying out a new pose. Don’t be nervous if you have never done yoga before. There are so many classes that are just for beginners. If you don’t want to go all the way to a studio check out: DoYogaWithMe.com. It’s a free online site that allows you to chose between all different levels and styles of yoga.
3. A Moment of Mediation
Mediation is probably the best thing you can do in your life whether you struggle with anxiety or not. The common misconception about meditation is your mind is going to be still and you must meditate for an hour or longer to be successful. It’s very rare my mind is ever completely silent. The point of mediation is to help you be present. I always recommend starting off with small amounts of time (5 – 10 minutes.) Apps like Calm and Headspace also make it easy for beginners. I also recommend The Honest Guys on youtube. They have amazing Free guided meditations.
4. Practicing Gratitude
Any time my mind gets to a place where I’m in a negative spiral it’s usually because I’m thinking about the past or over thinking the future. Practicing gratitude allows me to be present. It’s a reminder that just because you have a bad day it doesn’t mean you have a bad life. I recommend getting a one-line journal. One of my favorites is the Happiness Project One Line Journal. After 5 years of doing it, you will have a collection of happy and grateful moments. It's also fun to write one sentence on a post-it and place it in a glass jar and choosing a date to read them.
5. Write it Out
Overthinkers tend to struggle with anxiety. To be frank I never enjoyed writing. All of my journals have drawings throughout. It wasn’t until recently that I began enjoying writing. I told myself to write in my journal just once a day. It can be a sentence a paragraph or three pages. If I can’t write in the beginning I will draw until the words come to me.
When it comes to journaling the most important fact to remember is not to try to sound perfect. Don’t worry if your handwriting is nice. Don’t worry if your thoughts appear negative. Just write and you can reflect on your thoughts later. The goal is to release the energy the thoughts are creating in your body so that you can let go. You will start to feel your shoulders relax and your heart stop beating as fast as each word comes out. Again the most important thing with journaling is not to be judgmental of your thoughts.
These tools have truly helped me learn how to deal with my anxiety. On days when I used to let my anxiety take over, I now feel it, write it or move it out of my body and mind. I hope you're able to find some comfort from these methods and tools. The key to dealing with anxiety is to remember to take it one day at a time, and that a bad day doesn't mean you have a bad life.
About the Author...
Mary Vin Rose is a producer, lifestyle blogger, and self-love advocate located in NYC. Using her love of storytelling through her blog, she encourages others to define their personal self-care journey and to create a life filled with purpose and fulfillment. Find all of her amazing work at MaryVinRose.
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