[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.

Anxiety is always there, like it or not. Managing it isn’t easy, but it is possible.

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.

My Lungs

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.

HALT

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.

Animals

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).

Pets are the perfect companions for anxiety. They always seem to know when you need some company.

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.

Fidget Spinner

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.

Hope is always on the horizon. Talking about anxiety is one way to overcome it.

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:

519-435-6486

http://www.sexaddictionlondon.ca/about-us/

Alcoholics Anonymous

519-438-1122

http://www.aalondon.org

Narcotics Anonymous

1-888-881-3887

http://www.glana.ca/

Food Addicts Anonymous

519-685-7415

https://www.foodaddicts.org

I could also lend you a friendly ear. You can contact my email, andy@locomotivemind.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.

3 COMMENTS

  1. This was a brave article to write, Andyy. I hope that LondonFuse is another place you can go to to feel at peace and welcomed (it does that for me too).

  2. This is such a great read. I really love the way you write and how funny you are even with a more serious topic. I love when you said the app Headspace was like a gym membership for your mind and lungs. That is so good! I use the app Calm and I feel exactly the same way about it. I’ve had anxiety for quite a few years now and am learning how to deal with my “pet” anxiety as well. It’s been quite the up and down road including a nervous break down in July this past year that I still haven’t fully recovered from, but I’m definitely learning a lot and love to read what other people are doing to help their anxiety. I wrote a little list on my blog if you want to check it out too? I’d love your feedback. http://www.ruthpreston.com/blog/how-to-deal-with-anxiety-my-top-10-strategies-why-they-actually-work/. Thanks so much again for writing this. It takes incredible bravery to write about anxiety and I really appreciate knowing I’m not the only one out there who struggles with it. 🙂

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