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Anxiety Series Part Two: Coping Skills

In my last entry I shared my journey going off of SSRI’s. Today I want to talk about what I do instead, given that anxiety and its management are an ongoing part of who I am. Some of my tips for managing daily anxiety: Phone a friend – When my anxiety is bad I feel like my head is spinning with too many inner thoughts and voices. It helps during these times to talk to someone else as it is harder for your inner dialogue to be as crazy when you are actually communicating with another living being. Sometimes I’ll talk to the person about my anxiety and think of ways to overcome it but other times chatting about a non-related topic helps. For example, sometimes while doing my homework at night with the door closed my anxiety builds up. During these moments it helps to knock on my roommate’s door, sit on her floor and talk about our days, watch ironic Donald Trump videos and eat chips and salsa. Being in the moment helps to curb the anxious tendencies and calms my mind. Give up caffeine - One of the huge things that made a big difference in my baseline anxiety levels  has been giving up caffeine. I feel that my energy is much more stable throughout the day and that I have an easier time keeping my mind on track and being present in the moment. I was a pretty big coffee and black tea drinker in the past so it was hard for me to give up the warming drink. Luckily I have really been enjoying Dandy coffee alternative, which is a 100% natural plant based powder that tastes like coffee but is caffeine free.  
Having a cozy cup of tea with breakfast.

Having a cozy cup of tea with breakfast.

15 minute brain breaks – At the beginning of each day, or the night before, I try to schedule three 15 minute blocks in the day where I can stop whatever productive activity I am doing and just be present. Usually I have one in the morning, one around lunch or between two classes and one after dinner. I like to use these times to sit on a bench and people watch, listen to Justin Beiber extremely loudly and have a dance party or even pull out my coloring book and have a little drawing session. I find that when I forget to take these breaks I can feel my anxiety building up throughout the day and I am getting ready to explode at night.
An awesome brain break is getting out in nature (neat-ure).

An awesome brain break is getting out in nature (neat-ure).

  Sunday night preparation – I started to notice a pattern that if my Sunday afternoon/night was hectic, I would feel stressed on Monday morning, which would set me up to have a bad week. On Sunday night I like to take a few hours by myself to get mentally ready for the week ahead of me. This involves getting out my class syllabi and copying any due dates into my planner, as well as any other important meetings or appointments during the week. I also like to do laundry, clean my room, send any emails I have been putting off etc etc. I think Sunday night is a perfect time to have some “me” time too as most people are tired from the weekend and you’re unlikely to be missing out on anything super fun.   So there you have it; a few things that have worked well for me in the past couple of months since going of SSRI’s. Overall I feel extremely empowered to have made the transition off of medication but I think a better way to frame it is that I changed the way I coped with my anxiety, rather than just quitting one way of coping. I think it is very important to use other tools in our lives such as support systems, self-care and mindfulness to manage our emotions so that we are free to live a more authentic reality.   A Challenge for you this week: Be vulnerable with someone. It could be simply being honest that you dislike your new haircut, or opening up to a friend about struggling with anxiety. Letting my guard down and being vulnerable about my anxiety in ways such as "phoning a friend" has helped me learn to be less judgmental about parts of myself.  Vulnerability allows us to make deeper connections as we expose more of ourselves. It may be tough but it is empowering. If you have any questions about anxiety or would like to talk about your journey, please reach out to me! Sending love, Robin