For me, managing anxiety involves a lot of trial and error. There are a number of coping mechanisms out there and I’ve experimented with many of them. In my experimentation, I’ve found slight success with some, greater success with others and no success at all with many.
The thing is, there is no one-stop-shop solution for learning to manage and cope with anxiety. Everyone is different. Everyone’s experiences are different, and different things work differently for different people. Different, different, different, hah!
The only way to figure out what works best for you is trial and error.
When I was 6 years old, I thought that I would grow up to become a scientist. Over the course of my life, my skills, interests, and circumstances have led me toward an entirely different career path, however.
But when it comes to figuring out how to manage my anxiety, I like to think of myself as a scientist. I guess it makes things more fun for me. My thoughts on this:
Sometimes, when you’re able to find a way to make the challenges you face “fun,” it can make dealing with said challenges more bearable.
Although, finding a way to make things fun might look different for you than it does for me. Playing “pretend” was a huge part of my life as a child, and as a creative writer, I’m totally on board with being a full grown adult who still plays pretend.
Someone who is less childlike than I am might be more comfortable with looking at it as a puzzle to be solved, or a competition to be won, or anything else that caters to his or her view of fun.
Trying to make the management of my anxiety “fun” is just one of the things I found to give me slight success in coping with it. This might not be something that works for you, or that you even have any interest in trying, and that’s okay.
Other methods that I have experimented with include:
- Keeping Busy
- Talking About It
- Avoiding Negative Talk
- Focusing On Solutions
- Writing About It
- Focused Breath Work
- Comfort Food
- Healthy Diet
- Mary Jane
All of these things at one point or another have brought relief. Other times they’ve morphed into something that creates more anxiety. To quote a Disney song: it’s like the tide always falling and rising.
I’m still in the beta testing phases with many of these coping mechanisms, but despite the ever changing results, so far, I’ve found the most success with therapy, yoga, meditation, journaling, talking about it, writing about it, avoiding negative talk, and focusing on solutions.
I think that the most important thing for me to remember is that this “experiment” is an ongoing one, and I may never come to a solid conclusion. As I continue to grow and change and move on to different phases of my life, I’ll likely find that some of my more successful methods begin to fail, and some of my previously failed methods prove to be more effective. It’s frustrating and exhausting, but I have to stay strong. We have to stay strong.
Anxiety will beat you when you’re down. It will show no mercy. It will try to squeeze every last ounce of energy and life out of you. Some days will be better than others. Some days will feel impossible. But I intend to fight for more and more better days for as long as I can. Because I deserve them.
We all do.
Shout out to all my friends and fellow bloggers who struggle with anxiety. As isolating as it can be, you are not alone. I am blessed with many good days in my “anxiety cycle,” and through those days, I try my hardest to help others who I know are struggling. I may not understand exactly what you go through, but I can use my experience, and my strong empathic “abilities” to try. And if nothing else, sometimes just being an ear or a shoulder is enough.
Special shout out to my friend Megan at The View From Motherhood, who has been blogging a lot about her own anxiety lately! It was through reading some of her posts that I got the inspiration to write this one.
I think we all should help each other as much as possible, and bring as much awareness to those who don’t understand, as we can. If you have a list of coping mechanisms, or a story about your own successes and failures in dealing with anxiety, please share them with me! Link your blog posts, or just leave a comment about your experience. I’m eager to hear your side of it.
Disclaimer: I have a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but I believe that what I suffer from is more accurately described as High Functioning Anxiety as described in The View From Motherhood’s post (linked above).