So, you’re feeling anxious.
I’m sorry, that sucks. Your body feels like it’s constantly on edge, your butt is in your throat, and you swear your heart is beating 30x faster than it’s supposed to. Live in New York City like I do? Make that 50x as fast.
Here’s the thing - I have some tips for you, but I’m leaving the crunchy stuff out of it. I’m crunchy, believe me, I’m a poet from Brooklyn who keeps crystals in her plants and taught yoga for five years. But I also have two jobs and run my own company AND I ride the subway into Manhattan every day. The last thing I want from one of these articles is for someone to tell me to try and meditate while a Wall Street Bro manspreads next to me on the 5 train and shouts “YEAH, I MIGHT LOSE YOU, I’M ON THE TRAIN” 15 times into his AirPods. If you can be zen next to that - congrats - you’ve reached enlightenment.
So before we jump in, let me just say this: anxiety is normal, you are not alone, and your anxiety is not something that can be weighed or compared to anyone else's. It is debilitating, frustrating, and often makes us feel ashamed. I’m so sorry for days when you feel this way, and I really hope these tips help.
8 Tips For Anxiety That Won’t Make You Scream Into The Void:
- Slow down your breathing.
- When anxiety hits, our nervous system reacts. There’s a thing in our brain that isn’t super evolved and when it detects stress in the body it assumes a wild animal is feigning for weekend brunch and we’re the Eggs Benny special. That’s fight or flight. It’s a really fun feeling! The best way to send signals to your nervous system that a cougar is not about to pounce (unless it’s the good kind ;) You picking up what I’m putting down? Is this inappropriate for this article? I digress:) ) is to breathe. I know, so cliche, but it’s just…science. When we slow down our breath, our brain gets the message that we’re not in imminent danger. There’s lots of fancy breath-work you can do, and youtube is dope if you’re into that, but I’m a big fan of a nice slow inhale followed by an even slower exhale. If you can, close your eyes and place your hands on your stomach and heart.
- Activate your senses to bring you into the present.
- When we’re triggered, we can often feel like we’ve time-traveled into the past and are re-experiencing the shame of being pantsed on the playground at 8 years old. Or it propels you forward 10-20 years and says you won’t have any friends and your only hobby is watching reruns of Bachelor In Paradise. But that isn’t your current reality, so we have to do our best to bring ourselves back. Ask yourself: What do I see? What do I smell? What do I hear? What do I taste? What do I feel? It can be the dumbest things around you, it doesn’t matter, the point is just to bring you back to 2019 - and in 2019 we have Lizzo so it is really worth your while to hot tub time machine your way back home. If you can, I encourage you to point out things that won’t make you feel more anxious - so instead of saying “I see a rat scurrying into the gutter,” how about “I see that the leaves are starting to change color.”
- Call a loved one and ask them to tell you a story.
- The act of listening can take us from an internalized or dissociated state back into the present moment. So go ahead, call your newly single buddy and ask them to tell you about their Tinder escapades. If you need a little script: “Hey, I’m feeling anxious right now. What would really help me is if you could tell me a story right now, it doesn’t have to be anything special, it would be nice just to hear your voice.”
- Talk to your anxiety.
- When I was going through a hard time, my mom would tell me to say, out loud, “I don’t have time for you, we’ll talk later” to my thoughts. I know it sounds ridiculous, but hearing strength in our own voice when we talk sternly to our unhelpful thoughts can really help.
- Take a bath with epsom salts.
- I know this is #classic self-care BS, but cliches exist for a reason. Water is another way to urge the nervous system to recalibrate, and epsom salts help your muscles relax. When our bodies are in a state of panic, we tense up, and getting the body to let go texts the brain and is like “Yo, you up? Okay cool, but you don’t have to be. Totally chill if you nap rn.”
- Hug an alive thing.
- Whether it is a human or an animal, physical touch is proven to be calming to the body. It is a tangible reminder of the here and now and a way for our bodies to play Simon Says with the alive thing that is not currently spiraling like we are. We can take a cue from someone feeling stable and calm, and totally mooch off of them.
- Pick a mantra that feels comforting.
- “This too shall pass” is a pretty nice one, and so is “anxiety is a fucking dick.” Whatever you need to repeat in your head that can help drown out some of the worry and fear you’re experiencing, go for it.
- Lastly, have an anxiety check-list.
- Essentially: make a plan. When you’re feeling calm and grounded, take some time to make a note for yourself of the things you can do when you feel triggered. That way you have all the tools you need handy when the cougar (bad kind) is on the prowl.
Hey, I hope these tips were helpful. If you want extra support managing your anxiety, the MyWellbeing team would love to hear from you, and we can find you a therapist you also tells it to you straight or granolafies your hippie dreams. Whoever your perfect therapy match is, we’ll find them for you. Our matchmaking process is meant to alleviate the stress of the search, because we know how overwhelming it is to get help when you feel helpless. If you’re in NYC and interested in giving therapy a try, check out our matching questionnaire!
You got this.