If you’ve been keeping up with me, you may have noticed a trend. I’ve been trying to take care of myself by eating better and exercising more. I even started therapy as a way of caring for my mental health. While it’s done a lot for me, I’m finding there are little things I can do every day to help me feel better.
- Self-evaluation: When I feel my anxiety creeping in, I pause and consider why I feel that way. I can’t always pin down a single reason, but often I find one that wasn’t immediately obvious. Knowing helps, and then I can decide whether or not I can do something about it.
- Ask questions: I find a lot of my anxiety comes from being unsure of what I’m doing. Asking for clarifications or reminders makes me anxious for about fifteen seconds. NOT asking makes me anxious for much longer: while I’m doing the thing and after, while I worry if I did it right. Fifteen seconds is better than hours or even days, so I ask.
My friend Katie taught me how valuable this is with interpersonal situations too. Worried someone’s upset with you? You can actually ask them. Maybe the answer is yes, but then you can talk it out and work past it.
- Avoid stuff: Obviously I can’t avoid everything that triggers my anxiety. I have to work and even occasionally make phone calls. Plus, some of the things I could avoid, I wouldn’t want to, since anxiety can be stupid. I was anxious a few weeks ago about spending time with someone I love whom I hadn’t seen in a while. What the heck?
But if I have anxiety attacks on one particular road on my way to work, a road that can be bypassed completely in a way that adds less than five minutes to my commute (if any at all), why wouldn’t I avoid it? If there’s something on Tumblr I don’t want to see, why wouldn’t I block it? There’s no point dealing with something that hurts me if it doesn’t also do me some good. And these things don’t, so I avoid them.
- Find what works: I love my bullet journal. It makes me feel more on top of things and in control of my day…whether or not I actually am. When I’m stuck in traffic, I open the Pokemon Go app and leave it in the seat next to me so I can try to hatch eggs while I’m driving glacially slow which, you guessed it, makes me anxious otherwise. These are little things but I’ve found they work for me.
- Worst Case Thinking: This is counterintuitive but, again, it works for me, so I go with it. When I’m anxious, I try to think of the worst thing I could do or that could happen…and then I think of why it wouldn’t be so bad. Asking questions helps here as well. At work I’ve asked, a few times now, “What if I made this mistake? How would we fix it?” Believe it or not, there’s an answer for almost every scenario.
I have accepted that I’m just going to be anxious sometimes. It happens and I can’t stop it. But I can weaken it, and every day I learn to do so a little more. Why wouldn’t I try to make myself feel better when it’s this easy to do? Every little bit helps, right?