Someone asked this question on reddit today about how to cope with anxiety. I thought given everything that is going on in the world today – I’ll share some of my ways to help with my own anxiety problems. I’m currently not on medication for the anxiety. I never liked the way anti-depressants made me feel. But I recognize that some people need more help. And I really encourage you to speak to your doctor about medications that can help you – if nothing else works.
That said – let’s get right into it.
Note: I am not a mental health professional. HOWEVER. I worked in Addictions and Mental Health for four years. I was part of the provincial lead team for Mental Health Capacity Building in Schools project and learned so much from my time working there.
Writing is therapy
This blog started as a way for me to vent my daily frustrations about – daily life. I wrote using a pen name which was great – until I wanted to start sharing some of my art and music with readers. If you’re worried about privacy, buy a paper journal and keep track of your thoughts on paper. Or create a private blog and only grant access to the readers you want to read your private thoughts.
For me, sharing what I’ve learned over the years with others helps me as an outlet. Sharing my personal struggles and experiences as a way to help others overcome their own anxieties – that’s what really helps me.
I have so many short stories and books in draft form that it makes me think I should really sit down and finish them. Getting lost in a fantasy world often helps to forget about life around me for a while.
I wrote an article last night – and didn’t notice but THREE hours went by just like that. I had to turn off the computer and force myself to go to bed. That’s how fun writing is for me. Getting lost in a world of make believe and dreams.
That said, if writing makes you anxious – then consider private therapy with a trained therapist. Over the years during troubled times, I’ve reached out for short-term counseling. I learned a lot of ways to cope with difficult situations or people in my life. It helped.
Pour your feelings into a creative outlet. Pick up an instrument and learn how to play music. Work with your hands – draw, paint or sculpt. Or learn graphic design – I use Corel Painter for this when I need another creative outlet. Putting your energy and anxiety into music will in a way, feel like cathartic release.
Cooking – I never thought that cooking could be relaxing. But there is something methodical about chopping vegetables and working with fresh food that relaxes me. Same with gardening and planting flowers. Really, anything you can do with your hands is a good detraction.
As a musician, I can attest that my own feelings come through in a lot of my compositions.
If sitting at home is doing nothing for you, then put on some clothes, put on your shoes – and go outside. Go for a walk around your neighbourhood. Go for a drive in your car. Join a fitness class. Or go to the pool when it’s safe to do so.
If you’re not up to working out, sit on your balcony or in your yard every day just to get some sunshine and fresh air. It really does do wonders. I love early mornings for this – enjoy a hot cup of coffee while sitting on my balcony when the world is still quiet. Those moments are rare.
Exercise is a great way to get the body moving, pump up the endorphines and it’s great for weight loss.
Cardio kick boxing – just punching the air helped me during troubled times.
Reconnect with Nature
Eventually as I lost more weight, I got into hiking which was my spiritual reprieve from the world. Being alone in nature is a great way to ground yourself. I found being near water put me at ease. I also listened to music while hiking. There was very little wildlife and no risk of bears where I hiked – it was safe to do so.
If you go hiking alone – just make sure to tell someone where you are hiking and turn on your cell phone’s gps tracking. And wear proper hiking boots. Runners won’t cut it in the mountains.
I learned some great meditation techniques when I was in my early twenties, exploring the world of Shamanic journeying. Now, that I’m in my forties and don’t get out as much – I use music to meditate. There are some great channels on youtube that you can listen to. I’ve got a whole page dedicated to meditation techniques.
What works for me is listening to relaxing instrumental music.
Find a quiet spot in your home – bedroom will do.
Turn off the lights and light a candle or two. You can use incense – I like Dragon’s Blood for meditations but any incense will work. Jasmine and Lavender work well. If you don’t like incense or can’t have it, opt for scented candles or herbs.
Get out your headphones and make a playlist of your favorite music to mellow out to.
Lay down on your bed or find a quiet spot to sit. Get comfy. Close your eyes and just listen to the music.
Breathing techniques can help you to relax. Just take in several deep breaths – in and out slowly. Repeat. Until you feel the stress literally melting away from you.
There is nothing quite like the beat of a steady hand drum paired with a rattle or pan flute. This sets me at ease almost instantly.
Learning to cope with anxiety and depression
These are just a few things that I’ve learned over the years that help relax me. In trying to live a healthy lifestyle, I try to avoid drugs or alcohol as a way to cope. Drinking is something that I enjoy doing socially – but most booze gives me migraines. So, most of the time – I just don’t bother. The odd glass of wine or rum is fine for social gatherings.
I’ve learned that sometimes on a bad day, it’s best to stay at home or keep to myself. Spreading a bad mood around isn’t always a good thing to do. Other days, I just need to be around people. I know that is especially hard right now with COVID and unrest in the world. But with technology, I encourage others to reach out to loved ones. Pick up your phone. Call them. Hearing someone’s voice on the phone does wonders for the mental health.
Use video chat or face time when possible. Reach out to those that you think might need it most. For me, I call my dad almost daily. Even if he can’t hear – he’ll just hang up on me. But at least I’m making the effort for that contact.
Look out for you
It’s okay to say “sorry, I don’t feel like getting together today” or “I just need some down time to be on my own.”
At the end of the day, you are the one who is looking out for YOU. So, be kind to yourself. Know when to reach out when needed. Surround yourself with people who understand what depression is all about. Join support groups.
I hope you find these suggestions helpful. We all face mental health issues at some point in our lives. There’s no shame in it. All we can do is make the best of it.
Ask for help – you are not alone
And finally, if you’re in desperate need of help – reach out to your local authorities and ask for help. Here’s the help line for Canadians. Please – call if you need to. https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/looking-for-local-resources-support/.
Stay safe friends. With love,
- The Art of Self-Care
- After a Bad Day
- Dealing with Difficult People
- Inner Reflection and Harmony
- Meditation Music
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