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Anxiety can happen anywhere at any time. You can be happily spending time with your friends or family, or maybe you’re about to fall asleep, and the next thing you know, you feel like the world is coming out from under your feet. You might start to feel pressure tightening in your chest, and then random thoughts come up where you question everything with, “What if…?” Your breathing is now labored, and it feels like the moment will last forever. Sometimes you know that your anxiety is coming from work or family related issues, but either way, it’s not fun to experience.
I have dealt with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I love being with my family and friends, (who are, by the way, extremely loving and wonderful to me) but sometimes my mind likes to tell me that I’m not funny enough, or pretty enough, or that what I say won’t really matter. My mind likes to tell me that everyone else is happier being around everyone else there, and I just happen to be there. Sometimes it tells me that I won’t succeed at something. Work becomes a challenge. Simple tasks become daunting. Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Being a christian, I know that the devil puts those thoughts into people’s minds all the time. I also know that anxiety is a real mental health issue and, unfortunately, the devil is going to put more effort into someone who struggles with anxiety. He knows that’s your weakness, so why not try to make life a little harder for you?
Over time, and by talking with others who deal with anxiety, I have found 5 things that have helped me when it strikes.
1. Breathing Techniques
Anxiety can cause your breathing to feel labored or too quick. When that happens, try this: Put your finger on the tip of your nose and push lightly. Focus on your breathing by closing your eyes. Take a deep breath and hold it for three seconds. Slowly release your breath through your mouth until you feel that you have pushed out all of your air. When you feel like you can’t let anymore out, take a deep breath through your mouth and release it. Repeat from the beginning until your breathing and mind feel calmer.
2. Listen to Energetic Music
Sometimes you just need to shut out the noise in your head by playing some fun music. It can be easy to want to just stay in silence or listen to something sad and slow, but you need to get your endorphins going to stop your anxious thoughts and physical reactions. Endorphins are hormones that the brain puts out that help us to feel less pain. That can also be mental pain. Playing music that makes you move or sing along is a good start to getting endorphins out. If you have a song that makes you want to dance, play it! This will get your body and endorphins moving. AJR is a group that has a lot of upbeat songs that I love listening to, and their music always gets me moving.
Going right along with dancing is good old-fashioned exercise. I know and completely understand that anxiety can make you want to just lie down and not do anything, but exercise will help you so much. Not only is exercise going to help you mentally, but it’s also going to help you physically. This one is a win-win! Make your workout be at least 30 minutes long so that you can get the most benefits out of it. You could dance, run, walk, complete HIIT exercises, lift weights, and more. Anything that gets your body moving will help. Generally I complete the VSHRED Toned in 90 Days program or lift weights, and then I dance during the breaks in between sets. I always play energetic music during lifting, so I get a three-for-one deal with that!
One thing that really helps me is to read my bible or devotional. Sometimes I will just open it up and let God lead me to what I need to read, and other times I look up verses specifically for anxiety. I also pick up fiction books that I enjoy reading to get my mind off of it’s racing thoughts. Diving into another world for awhile helps me to drop my worries and focus on something else. Getting lost in another world is a great way to pause the real world for awhile!
5. Write or Draw
Writing about your stressors and pointing them out can help you see things from a new perspective. Putting them down in front of you will allow you to brainstorm solutions, or it can let you see that it isn’t as bad as you once thought. Like reading, you can also use writing to escape from your anxiety by creating a new world or writing about things you love. Sometimes I will make lists of all the good things in my life and things that I enjoy until that is all that I’m focusing on. Start with the smallest things, like waking up this morning, having water to drink, or a pen to write with. Not everyone gets clean water or writing supplies, so it can help put things into perspective.
Drawing is another great way to ease anxiety since it’s an enjoyable task that doesn’t require any skill. You don’t have to be good at drawing to let it help you. Just start doodling different shapes, or draw a scene of your favorite place. The point is that you are focusing your attention on something besides your mind. It will help relax you and ground you. A journaling bible is also a great way to read God’s word while using your creative talents.
It’s important to know that this will not cure your anxiety for good. There are amazing doctors and psychologists that can prescribe medicine for people who have severe anxiety. If you feel that your anxiety is uncontrollable, please visit this website: https://www.mentalhelp.net/articles/anxiety-hotline/ for hotline numbers and additional resources, or visit a doctor near you for more information.