[Disclaimer] I am not a therapist, I do not have any degrees in any medical field.
However, I have been living with chronic anxiety throughout my life, and these methods have been very helpful for me. They may not work with you, and that’s okay. You know yourself more than this silly guy on the internet.
My anxiety has been my constant shadow throughout my life. It has been my antagonist, under the floorboard in my mind, creeping out for air when I feel uncomfortable. Don’t get me wrong, I need him in my life, without him I would probably get eaten by a bear, or tell a rude customer at work to politely bugger off.
However, with my childhood of bullying and sexual abuse that I suppressed, he kept on getting bigger and hungrier. I didn’t know what to do, so I fed him procrastination and vices to keep him occupied and satisfied, which made him gigantic and territorial.
But I see him now, peeking out of the shadows. To be perfectly honest, I was terrified when I saw his face for the first time.
Even today while I am writing this article he is right behind me. Fortunately, I have been slowly building an arsenal of tools to train my pet anxiety, which I would love to share with you.
It’s funny – I should be used to breathing in my life. Technically I intake around 12-18 breaths per minute. That’s 6,307,200 breaths a year, and 151,372,800 throughout my life (so far). But every time my anxiety gets too much to handle, I forget how to breathe. It’s madness.
The anxiety is familiar to the claustrophobic feeling of drowning, suffocating on the ‘what if’s?’ However, much like you can train your lungs for prolonged swimming, you can also strengthen your endurance with your worries by being aware of the your breathing.
For me, being aware of your breathing can be completely overwhelming, so I have been training my mind and breathing using meditation and mindfulness. The app Headspace is a great tool for me, it’s like a gym membership for your mind and lungs.
Are you Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired?
These are the key triggers that can commonly heighten my anxiety. This handy acronym is a cornerstone in my group therapy meetings, and every time I feel my pet anxiety shouting at me, HALT is a great place to start to finding the root of the cause.
People call me mad when I recite the animal-folk of our household – one dog, three cats, two rabbits, two hamsters, three beta fish and a horse (the latter not in the house, obviously).
However, it makes sense. When I was a kid and felt trapped or anxious and I was terrified of talking about my abuse to anyone, I always turn to my best (and now departed) friend Thomas the cat.
I’d rest my head upon his sleeping body and let his purring heal me. For me, the trust and unconditional love from a pet makes getting out of bed worth it.
Okay, here me out. If you take the millennial, snapchatty thing out of this spinner, it actually takes my anxiety levels from 100 per cent to a good solid 85. Just idly spinning this thing can make calling the tax office or emailing that resume that you put off for four weeks a lot more tolerable.
Badass Motivation Music
When my anxiety convinces me that I’m the most unremarkable person in the whole universe, I consume an unhealthy amount of films – mainly superhero – to escape my reality.
But I found a trick to hack and transform this defeatist mind to a cape wielding superhero:
Introducing Mr. Motivation!!!!
Defender of Productivity
Killer of Procrastination
Drinker of the tea leaf variety
Instead of Spidey-senses or a bat-utility belt filled with ridiculous puns, I have a curated a Spotify playlist filled with motivational music to force myself to get stuff done.
Don’t hide the beast under your bed. Talk to your loved ones about it.
It would be so easy to say that I regret hiding my abuse.
But I was a kid that got good at hiding awful secrets, and the secrets turned into destructive habits which created fertile ground for my anxiety. For me, I try and surround myself with people who want to listen to my anxieties, regardless how ridiculous they are (like admitting, that I did a shit job loading the dishwasher).
I would love to thank the poor souls who do listen.
Reach out, I’ll be there
Anxiety is a sneaky bugger, even the name itself is anti-climactic on how destructive it can be. If you are feeling suicidal and want to talk to someone immediately in the London, Ontario area, please call Reach Out at 519-433-2023 or if you want use the toll free number please dial:1-866-933-2023.
You can also live chat with them if you follow this link.
If you are suffering from any kind of addiction, London has many therapy groups that will help work on your sobriety, including:
Sex and Love Addiction Anonymous:
Food Addicts Anonymous
I could also lend you a friendly ear. You can contact my email, email@example.com or DM me on my Twitter handle @locomotivemind. I will be more than happy to help you out, even if you’re not in the London area.
Stay safe, breathe and remember that you are not alone.