Today’s post is a bit personal for me, but I know that with everything going on in the world, anxiety is something that a lot of people are struggling with, so I thought this post would be helpful for those that are not used to dealing with an anxiety attack, and need tips on how to distract their brains from it developing into a full-blown attack. Now, I am not a doctor, and if you feel that your anxiety is taking over your life, then I really recommend trying to find a counselor or therapist to talk through it. However, these activities have helped me when I have felt an attack coming on, and I think they’ll be beneficial to help those that suffer from frequent anxiety attacks.
First off, a little bit of background information about anxiety. Everyone experiences anxiety differently; for me, my anxiety usually hits me the hardest at night, right before I’m about to go to bed. For example, I’m afraid of getting sick before an important meeting at work the next morning, so my brain will start to interpret my body’s normal bodily functions, like the sound of my stomach digesting my food, as a signal that I’m about to throw up. I’ll continue to think about it until it gets to the point where my whole body is shaking and I have to rush to the bathroom to get sick. This is what a full blown anxiety attack looks like for me. I’m so fixated on an event that might happen that I actually create the event. However, there is some good news; I haven’t had an anxiety attack in months, because I’ve found ways that keep my brain from spiraling down that path. Remember, anxiety stems from fear of an event happening in the future, which is what makes it different from a panic attack. Being able to interrupt that thought pattern is what is going to keep you from having a full-blown attack.
Okay, so now that you have a little bit of background knowledge, here are the 7 activities that help me cope with my anxiety and make it not interfere with my everyday life:
The number one thing that helps me are puzzles. They put my mind in a safe place because they remind me of when I was a kid, and they are perfect at keeping me distracted without waking up the other people in my household, since I usually experience my anxiety attacks in the evening. I also really like puzzles because they tire my brain out, which makes it easier for me to fall asleep.
Another thing that helps me, in a similar way that puzzles do, is drawing and painting. I am an absolute TERRIBLE artist, but something about the action of creating art really soothes me. It’s also an activity that is quiet, so it won’t wake anyone up, and it requires concentration, which helps tire my brain and helps me fall asleep. I also love to do DIY crafts that I find on Pinterest; I’ll use old pasta sauce jars and paint them and they usually come out good enough that I can use them for something later.
I open a book to read when I feel like I can’t get away from my thoughts, even after trying puzzles and painting. I just need to escape into someone else’s head for a little bit. I love fantasy books the best, especially after an anxiety attack, because I tend to get anxious about things going on in my life, and I feel like they do a good job of letting me forget that for a little while. I also like that reading takes concentration and helps me to fall asleep a little easier. One reason I don’t always read though is because I feel like sometimes it just delays my anxiety; it doesn’t really help me address the anxiety and deal with it, but it just takes my mind off it for a bit.
4. Walking/hiking (getting out of the house)
I absolutely love the outdoors, and I live in a place with beautiful mountains, so when I have a chance, I go for a hike. I think hiking and nature is more of a preventive measure for my anxiety, because it helps me collect my thoughts and just be for a little while. But hiking also helps me the day after I’ve had an anxiety attack, when I feel tired and nauseous and don’t feel like moving from my bed; I’ll force myself to go on a hike. The fresh air and the blood flow usually help me get out of my funk, and I can begin to function like a normal human being again.
Yoga is another one that’s more of a preventive measure, but it is also beneficial if I feel an attack coming on in the day. It helps to ground my thoughts, and the exertion from the exercise helps me sleep at night. The only issue with yoga is that I don’t always feel motivated to do it, especially if I’m feeling anxious. But it is really helpful when I am in the right mindset.
Okay, so this one sounds kind of silly, but there are certain times when I just need to feel like all my energy been expended. On the days I feel antsy and agitated, maybe even a little angry, and I just need a release of all the emotion, I dance. I go downstairs to my basement, put on a poppin’ playlist, blast it, and I just move my body to the music. I dance until I’m dripping in sweat, until my lungs are burning, until my legs feel like jello; I feel lighter afterward, like a weight has been lifted, and it’s easier to laugh and feel good when all the negative energy has been released.
I count backwards from 100 when I start to feel anxious, but it hasn’t quite gotten to the point where I need to get out of bed. It gives me something to focus on and is usually enough of a distraction that I’m able to fall asleep, if the thoughts haven’t already had time to take over.
And The 3 Activities That Make My Anxiety Worse:
1. TV/Video Games
From a young age, I have been very sensitive to TV shows and video games. I am not sure why, but if I watch TV too often or play video games too much, I have terrible nightmares and it’s really hard for me to fall asleep. I think I just get too into the characters and my brain gets confused. No matter the reason, they really make my anxiety worse. I try to avoid watching TV more than a few hours every few days, and I never watch right before bed. Same goes with video games.
2. Social Media
In my last post, I talked about how social media can cause you to compare yourself to others, in an unhealthy way. I think it makes my anxiety worse because it makes me feel like I’m always behind, or that I’m not as good as someone else. Sometimes this can be motivating, but I think it can also be really bad when I’m in a fragile state of mind. I never go on social media right before bed, and I try to only go on a few minutes at a time when I do decide to go on.
3. Watching the news
This is kind of self-explanatory, but the news makes me anxious because I never feel like I hear anything positive. It’s always the bad stuff, and it’s just too much sometimes. I read little summaries of what’s going on in the mornings, just so I am aware of what’s going on, and then I try not to think about it again for the rest of the day. It’s just too overwhelming for me to do it any other way.
Alright guys, I hope this post gives you a little bit of comfort that things will get better. I remember when my anxiety got really bad last year, I was completely terrified because I didn’t have a clue what to do. When you’re sick, you can take medicine, but when it’s something in your brain, it becomes a bit more complicated. These activities really help me feel better, and they make it to where my anxiety isn’t controlling my life. I hope they help you as much as they helped me!
Thank you so much for reading! Let me know if any of these activities helped you in the comment section below! Subscribe to let me know if you want to see posts like this in the future!