Dealing with Anxiety
reading time: 3 min
Over the past few weeks and months I have been working on my master thesis and I reached my personal limits more than once. It was a long and painful process of constant stress, and headaches, exhaustion, irregular periods and emotional instability were its results (plus a 224 pages long thesis). Even though I'm very sensitive to stress, I don't always realize it in time and I oten end up with anxiety and strained nerves. Who can relate?
BTW: When talking about anxiety, I'm not referring to chronic anxiety and panic attacks (for that sort of anxiety toolbox check out Sophie's wonderful blog post on that!), but rather the sort of "everyday anxiety" that comes with exam stress, term papers, an overly tight schedule and our general busy lifestyles.
Here are my methods to deal with stress and stress-induced anxiety:
1. Accept where you are right now.
You're probably like "oh great, yeah, thanks for the advice, Sherlock" but I mean it! We are usually way to absorbed with worrying about our situation and how to fix it that we forget the important step to recognize our feelings. Sit down, close your eyes, take a deep breath and say to yourself: I FEEL "insert feeling (e.g. stressed out, anxious, empty, tight in the chest, lost, restless, helpless...)", AND THAT IS OKAY. You may even feel relieved after "admitting" your emotional state to yourself.
2. Express your feelings.
Talk to someone you can open up to, and let them know how they can help you. If you are not ready to share your feelings with anyone else, just say them out loud or write them down on a piece of paper.
3. Take a time-out.
Tune out, just for a few minutes. Lock yourself in the bathroom to find some quiet time, listen to music, meditate, get a massage, read a page from an inspiring book, draw, craft, play the piano, do your make-up in the morning, or do it the good ol' British way and drink a cup of tea (I recommend chamomile, fennel, lemon balm or Valerian root tea). Just make sure you have at least 10 minutes of quiet time every day to do whatever you please.This is so important!!
4. Move your body.
You've heard this a hundred times already, but get physical! Do a crazy dance in your room like nobody's watching, go for a brisk refreshing walk or run (maybe take your dog out for a walk), do an exhausting HIIT workout, or just literally "shake off" your worries. Personally, I prefer to do yoga to calm my spinning mind and also feel more grounded in my body if that makes sense :)
5. Take deep breaths.
Okay, this is another no brainer, but also the last thing we usually think of when feeling anxious and stressed. Whenever you are feeling stressed throughout the day, lie down (or, if you are in public: sit down or just lower your gaze), maybe close or eyes, and breathe in and out consciously for 5 minutes, hands on your tummy. Imagine a cleansing wave rolling through your body as you inhale and flushing out any unwanted clutter as you exhale, like a little detox. If you have trouble settling your thoughts, count your breaths. If you can, do this every morning and evening, and you will feel much clearer and calmer throughout the day.
Of course, enough quality sleep and a balanced diet are also crucial for a more stress-free, happier life, but I know how hard this can be when feeling anxious, so just try your best and integrate the techniques above into your everyday life, and by that you will already do your part to improve your sleep and become more aware of your body.
I have never been good with handling uncertainties, and every time I'm faced with an unknown situation, my anxiety strikes and I feel like I'm falling into a dark whole. In those situations I have to remind myself time and time again that it's going to be the way it's going to be. That's for sure. There's nothing you can do about it, so STOP FREAKING OUT. I'm also a firm believer in that everything is as it should be. So I try to kind of lean into that confidence that no matter how things are now, they are part of my path, and I just have to trust things falling into place eventually. I know, it's not easy.
Good luck ~
What are your tips for dealing with anxiety?