Frequently I find myself sitting among friends, walking alone or reading in my room & I notice that my chest is tight, my muscles are tense & my thoughts are rushing all over the place, alighting briefly on each to-do, then on on onto the next one. I think that I’m seeking out solutions to what ails me, but I’m really fueling my nervous, paranoid anxiety, uselessly & meaninglessly.
What I realise what I’m doing to myself I have a few go-to methods for calming down.
Strip it all Back
Getting naked is a sure-fire cure for anxiety. Er, mentally naked that is. All these worries are ephemeral & usually something which nothing can be done about at the moment of worry. Often they’re beyond out control altogether. Instead of letting my mind trip over the piles of junk in my brain, I breathe deeply & focus on feeling the inhale & exhale inside my lungs & throat. It reminds me that I am alive & all I need to survive is air & everything on top of that is practically a bonus. I’ve written about breathing before.
Get into Nature
Have you ever been walking down a country path & realised that you can’t remember anything you just thought? You have a memory of the wind in the trees & on your cheek, the birds chattering & the way the edge of the clouds glow golden in the sunset but nothing beyond that. A walk in a forest or an afternoon on the beach or a hike up the nearest hill provide enough of interest to distract the brain but in a calming & refreshing manner. Green is also supposed to be the most calming colour!
Fuck Shit Up
Do something! Anything! Go for a bike ride, fly a kite, have a tea party, hit the gym, bake, dye your hair blue, get a tattoo, hoover, do the weeding, skydive. Anything which absorbs you completely &/or gets the adrenaline pumping &/or leaves you feeling as though you’ve achieved something. I usually make cookies or go for a long walk. The concentration required to follow a recipe isn’t much but following a step-by-step guide keeps my mind of all my ‘problems’ from real life. Taking part in an activity which keeps your mind & body engaged leaves you no time to dwell on that which makes you anxious & the adrenaline & extra skills are a bonus!
Phone a Friend
Trust that your people know how to, and want to, cheer you up & distract you. A few of my most visited spots on these anxiety trips concern my friendships & trust/dependency, so I have to first convince myself that it is perfectly okay to phone my friends and freak out at them. So I have only managed to do this once, but we talked about self-appointed dictators & ruling the world, because that sort of thing makes I laff. Ahem. Each to their own.
Do What Scares You
What are you anxious about? Instead of putting it off & letting the tension build, get it done. Write that poem, apply for the job, kiss the girl/guy/porpoise, fashion fancies from fondant, start the petition, get on the plane, say ‘I love you’, say ‘It’s over’, throw away your television, email your idol, give that speech, dive in, jump out, roll over…It probably won’t be half as bad as you imagine & once it’s done, it’s over. You can learn from it & do it all over again, nervosity be damned.
This surely isn’t a full-blown analysis into anxiety & these tips are most useful when you know that your anxiety isn’t helpful at all. If you have serious issues which need addressing then don’t use avoidance techniques such as these (!) but talk to someone who can help & try to deal with the problem constructively. I often freak out irrationally because I don’t have seventeen hands and a time-turner so distracting myself from that which I cannot change is usually the best course of action.
How do you deal with being overwhelmed?