This week I’d like to focus on some of the coping mechanisms that have worked for me when dealing with anxiety. While some of these can sound obvious, they really do make a difference in the long run. It’s important to note that not every coping mechanism works the same for everyone. It’s up to you try out different strategies and see what works best for you and fits with your lifestyle.
When I started having feelings of panic and excessive worry, I was stressed and rushing everywhere. Well, the obvious thing to do is, slow down and take some time to go about your day. This is easier said than done, of course. When you rush through your day, your breathing changes and it affects your nerves.
My first recommended coping strategy is breathing exercises and meditation. This won’t fix everything overnight, but in time it does work. Trust me, everyone feels a bit weird when they first start meditating or doing breathing exercises. What am I doing? Why am I wasting time? I have to get this and that done. I don’t have time. These are all things I’ve said while meditating. It doesn’t have to be a long meditation. I think I started with an eight-minute guided meditation on YouTube, and worked my way up to 45-minute guided meditations. I found that meditation helped me first thing in the morning, to start the day right, or at the end of the day to help shed the day’s stress. I did some of my meditations on the train to work, or on a lunch break if I was feeling anxious.
The meditation involves simply sitting or lying down, closing your eyes and breathing while listening to the recording. Slowing your breathing and really taking your time will relax you and calm your nerves. As your mind starts to wander, go back to focusing on your breath. When I spoke to someone and mentioned that I was doing meditation, they said that it was a great start and that after about 4-6 weeks of continuous practice, I would start to see greater improvements!
Another coping mechanism that worked well for me was forcing myself to socialize, and talking about anything and everything. It didn’t matter if it was a close friend, a co-worker or a family member. I would just talk about my day. In this day and age, most people stay in touch via social media or texting or some other electronic means. One thing I learned while going through my struggles is that while social media and text and email are great, they will never replace actual face-to-face interaction. If you can’t visit someone in person, call or video chat rather than texting or checking their Facebook. It’s amazing how many people freak out when their phone rings “Why are they calling me right now? What do they need? What’s wrong?” I’m definitely guilty of this. It’s good to take some time to visit with people, uninterrupted. Put your phone away! If I’m with someone and they are constantly on their phone texting, it just feels like they’d rather be talking to everyone else. Not cool!
One last coping mechanism that worked really well for me was exercise. Now, this doesn’t have to be Olympic weight training or running a marathon if that’s not what you’re into. Going to the gym can sometimes just feel like chore and something we “should do.” Find some sort of exercise that you enjoy and it won’t feel like work. Take the dog for a walk, take the kids to the park, play sports, do yoga or dance. These are all good starts for getting up and moving and enjoying your exercise.
Next week I will be getting into more detail of how I managed my time and balanced my work and home life and self-care. Thanks for coming back each week and I’ll see you next Monday!