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Living With Anxiety: 9 Ways to Deal With Your Anxious Mind

Living With Anxiety: 9 Ways to Deal With Anxious Mind

Living With Anxiety: 9 Ways to Deal With Anxious Mind

Raise your hand if you’ve ever told yourself “stop it!” in hopes that your racing thoughts would slow down.

*raises hand*

I’ve had anxiety since I was about 15 years old. There were some bad times, some better times, some horrible times when my anxiety was paired up with a crippling depression, and then there were some more good times. For a few solid years, I really felt like my anxiety was under control and I loved NOT being constantly afraid or worried. I made so many changes in my life- I cut everything and everyone out of my life that didn’t make me happy. Things were going great.

Then, after losing my grandmother right before Christmas in 2016, I was drowning in grief and nothing’s been the same since. I think that I lost a huge chunk of who I was that day. Suddenly everything, life, became real. Almost too real for me to handle. More things to worry about. Not having enough time in my lifetime. Not being able to say the things I want to say to the people I love. Sickness. Losing loved ones. Not getting to bring all my dreams to life.

Fear followed me everywhere.

There was one night when I had a nightmare in which I lost my husband. I remember screaming and sobbing, and then him shaking me, trying to get me to wake up. My pillow was drenched with tears and when I realized it was just a nightmare, I started crying even harder. I didn’t go back to sleep that night, I just held his hand and watched him sleep (not as creepy as it sounds, I actually do that a lot, hehe. ok now I sound creepy).

After about six months, I was ready to try to go back to my old routine, to try and pick up the pieces. And then the whole car accident thing happened, and my life was turned upside down, again. All of a sudden there were new things to worry about: my health, constant pain, not being able to work or even stay on my feet for too long, constant doctor’s appointments, interviews with my insurance, all the phone calls and letters,  medical exams, MRIs, me being unable to sleep. I remember one day being on my way home, thinking that something bad is about to happen, again. Out of nowhere, this heavy and scary feeling comes over me and I thought I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I honestly thought I’d end up checking myself into a hospital that day.

I then remembered that even though there are many things that are beyond my control at the moment, my response is the only thing I can control. The tools needed to deal with this were the tools I was already equipped with.

ANXIETY: 9 WAYS TO DEAL WITH ANXIOUS MIND

Living With Anxiety: 9 Ways to Deal With Anxious Mind

BE STILL

“Everything that is created comes out of silence.
Your thoughts emerge from the nothingness of silence.
Your words come out of this void.
Your very essence emerged from emptiness.
All creativity requires some stillness.”
~ Wayne Dyer

One of the ways I’ve always tried to deal with anxiety was by distracting myself from my racing thoughts and trying to stay as busy as possible. Trying to be still was extremely difficult for me at first, because I was terrified of silence and stillness.

Being alone with all these thoughts and feels?

No, thanks.

I couldn’t stand to be alone with my thoughts and constantly searched for a distraction. I’ll never forget the very first time I tried meditation, which happened to be right after I had a bad anxiety attack. It was just a simple guided meditation and once it was over, I felt so good, so happy, so calm and relaxed that I started to cry and thought to myself “wow, I want to feel like this all the time.

It was such a strange, unfamiliar feeling, but at the same time, it felt so good. Ever since then, when I start feeling anxious, I do my best to become still. Burn your favorite candle, put on some soothing music, close your eyes and take a few minutes to be still. Relax your body, quiet your mind. You can also try one of these 5-Minute Meditations (backpack meditation is my favorite- I practice it at work a lot when sometimes dealing with difficult clients, or whenever I start feeling stressed) although I usually like to meditate for about 20 minutes.

REGULAR EXERCISE

Anxiety doesn’t affect only your mind- it can be felt throughout your entire body. Stiffness, tense muscles, chest pains, tingling in your fingers and hands- these are some of the physical symptoms I usually experience. A regular workout routine can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms over time. Exercise promotes new activity patterns in your brain that produce feelings of calmness and wellness and, of course, there are those warm and fuzzy endorphins.

To me, exercising is also a great way to practice self-care; it’s a great feeling knowing that you’re doing something for yourself, something that will keep you strong and healthy. All you need is 20-30 minutes a day.

MEDITATE 

With apps like Calm and so many guided meditations out there, meditating has never been easier to get into. The more you think you’re too busy and can’t fit meditation into your daily routine, the more you can benefit from a regular practice.


THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT

Yes, well, speaking of apps, I have a few favorites that I like to call my *anxiety pack*. I love anything that Andrew Johnson puts out. Some of my favorite apps of his are: Build Confidence, Don’t Panic and Stress-Free. There is something magical about his voice and whenever I can’t sleep due to anxiety and my regular remedies do not work and I don’t want to reach for medication, I launch one of his apps and select to end with “sleep.” Works like magic.

REFRAMING

Reframing is all about working with your thoughts and emotions, rather than working against them. Anxiety reframing is a pretty simple concept. Many symptoms of anxiety are the same as those of excitement. Since your body’s response to stress and excitement is so similar, you will find it much easier to go from “anxious” to “excited” than to go from “anxious” to “calm.”

If you’re feeling anxious about a work meeting, a get-together with some new friends, or an interview, rather than telling yourself to “calm down” do the opposite and embrace your feelings. The only difference is that rather than thinking about how anxious you are, reframe your anxiety as excitement. Your mindset shifts from “threat” or “fear” to “opportunity” and you begin to think of all the good things that could come from that experience. This is something that might help with event/experience-related anxiety.

You can also try writing your feelings on a piece of paper and break them down. Say you suffer from social anxiety and are going out to a friend’s birthday party. You might think to yourself: “I hate parties, there will be so many people, what will I talk to them about? No one is going to like me!” Write it down and try to challenge your thoughts:

What’s the worst that can happen?

Why do you assume no one is going to like you, are you a horrible person?

By performing this short exercise, you can soon discover that your original thought or feelings can’t be validated.

WATCH YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE

Caffeine can exacerbate your anxiety- I learned this the hard way. Some of my worst anxiety attacks happened to me after I consumed a huge amount of caffeine- this also explains while anxiety was such a huge problem for me in college as I used to go through a case of Redbull a week (yikes!)

Large quantities of caffeine increase stress hormones, cause rapid or irregular heartbeat and it can also cause sleep problems. You might find yourself feeling jittery, nervous and restless, which is similar to what happens when you feel anxious. Limit your caffeine intake throughout the day, consider substituting your second cup of coffee with herbal tea. Also, remember to hydrate throughout the day- for every cup of coffee, drink one cup of water (also, cute water bottles make hydrating a little more fun and you won’t have to waste plastic.)

MINDFULNESS

Surrender to what is. Let go of what was. Have faith in what will be.” ~ Sonia Ricotti
Practicing mindfulness daily is one of the things that helped me change the way I deal with emotions. Mindfulness is all about being aware of your surroundings, your thoughts, your feelings.

It’s about recognizing that whenever those racing thoughts “attack” the things you tell yourself aren’t always true or real.

Those of us who struggled with or have a history of anxiety, tend to over-worry and our mind often automatically goes into that “worst case scenario.” Practicing mindfulness is all about observing your thoughts, without judgment. Mindfulness is the energy of awareness. Awareness of what’s around you. Sort of like observing yourself, without judgment or criticism. You can read more about practicing mindfulness in this post.

Living With Anxiety: 9 Ways to Deal With Anxious Mind

BREATHE

When I feel an anxiety attack coming, this is the first thing I do: take a few full, deep breaths. Mindful breathing can be the quickest way to make yourself feel calm when you find yourself feeling suddenly anxious. Close your eyes, make every breath count and try practicing yogic breathing. You can also use positive reaffirmations while practicing deep breathing at the same time.

SEEK HELP

If you feel like your anxiety is becoming difficult to manage and it’s beginning to really affect your life, consider therapy. There is no shame in getting some help and it can change everything for you. Therapy can help you find the source (or sources) of your anxiety, your worries, and fears. You can consider group therapy, with people who have similar anxiety issues, or you can go with individual therapy. Through therapy, you can learn more about your anxiety and discover different ways to approach it. It’s okay to admit that you need help, it’s okay to seek treatment.

This is a little hard for me to admit because it felt a bit like a personal failure, but the day after I had that fear of a nervous breakdown I described at the beginning of this post, I went to see my doctor. I broke down in front of her, telling her that I don’t feel like myself anymore. This happened about two months after my car accident and I was just overwhelmed and lost, I barely slept. She decided to put me on a low-dose anti-anxiety medication. I sat in my kitchen with that small orange bottle clutched in my hand and I just felt like such a failure. Weeks into the treatment I found myself in a situation where normally, I’d probably have to try and stop myself from going into a full-on panic attack. Instead, my heart somehow wasn’t racing, my palms weren’t sweaty, and I was able to remain calm.

I wrote, deleted, wrote again and then deleted the above paragraph again, at least three times. In a world where there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, and especially for someone like me, who is a control freak and doesn’t like to depend on anyone or anything- even things like medication- admitting that I had to get help, wasn’t easy. I finally decided that I have to share my experience, because while all the things listed in this post helped me deal with and power through life with my anxiety, sometimes that’s just not enough. So, if you feel like you need to reach out for help, please do, and don’t think any less of yourself for doing so.

Making changes isn’t always easy, but without them, things remain the same. Your life will remain the same. Giving up and giving in, on the other hand, that is easy. Sometimes in life, you have to be willing to put up a fight. You deserve to have an amazing life, you deserve to do the things you’ve always dreamed of, to build a wonderful life for yourself. Does that mean that your life should be perfect, free of flaws, negative emotions or disappointments? 

No. 

The goal isn’t to have a perfect life, the goal is to grow, explore and know yourself. You will then be able to recognize some of those old patterns or behaviors as they happen. You will know what your triggers are, what to avoid and have an entire set of tools that will help you better deal with your feelings, thoughts, and emotions. 

30 Comments

  • Reply
    Zoë Ware
    March 16, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    I suffer badly from Anxiety, and I found this post extremely helpful. Like you, I absolutely hate being alone, the thought alone scares me. I tried meditating a few times, and at first it was good, but I started suffering Depression and I didn’t want to be alone at all, to the extent that I haven’t meditated since in fear of being alone… how silly right? I really love these Anxiety posts, thank you so much for sharing your story too. Sending good vibes xx

    https://zoe-ware.blogspot.ca

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      March 16, 2018 at 10:18 pm

      Zoe, so sorry you’re dealing with anxiety, too! Meditating definitely takes some time getting used to, it’s really uncomfortable at first but it can help out so much, in the long run. I really hope you find something that works for you! Thank you so much for your comment and I’m sending all my love your way!! <3

  • Reply
    Mae Polzine
    March 16, 2018 at 11:59 pm

    Thank you for the tips, my anxiety has been horrible lately so maybe trying something different might help it not be as bad.
    ♥ Mae | maepolzine.com

  • Reply
    Ana Vicioso
    March 17, 2018 at 12:27 am

    Raising both hands here. I’m self diagnosing but I’m pretty sure I have anxiety. It’s been a rough two years and my anxiety is at its peak. It gets better sometimes when I read books or if I workout. I used to run to overcome anxiety but it has been hard to find time with a little one. I find myself drained at the end of the day. Thank you for these tips!

    http://www.anavicioso.com

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      March 20, 2018 at 9:43 am

      So sorry to hear that, Ana! Working out definitely helps out, I think it’s so important to have a routine that works for you. I’m sure it’s difficult to find some time to take care of yourself with a little one, I hope you find something that works for you! Thank you so much for reading, sending love!

  • Reply
    Michelle
    March 17, 2018 at 12:59 am

    Thanks for the tips! I’ve noticed my anxiety is better when I workout and practice yoga and cut down on the coffee. ♥

    mooeyandfriends.blogspot.com

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      March 20, 2018 at 9:43 am

      So glad that all of these work so nicely for you Michelle! It’s all about finding what works for you! x

  • Reply
    Lauren Victoria
    March 17, 2018 at 11:51 am

    When I read about you going through so much, that day when you were on your way home and you just thought that some bad was going to happen again, that is exactly how I feel right now!! It’s a feeling that is so familiar to me, one I thought I had got rid of, but I just carry it around with me all the damn time now and it’s so draining. It’s almost like good things just can’t happen to me and I don’t know why I feel that way, because I know that they can and they have plenty of times, but I just can’t shake of this feeling like some never ending doom is about to hit me! Thank you for writing about this, making me feel less alone and sharing some great tips xx

    Lauren | itslaurenvictoria.blogspot.co.uk

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      March 20, 2018 at 9:47 am

      Aww I’m so sorry that is how you’re feeling right now Laura, it’s such an awful feeling! I think that you are a lot stronger than you’re giving yourself credit for. I know that sometimes it seems like we can’t catch a break and that good things seem to only happen to other people. Remember that those tough times are the ones that make you strong, but they also never last forever! You’re not alone in this, trust me there are so many others who feel the same way. You are meant to have a wonderful life, my wish for you is that all your dreams come true, sending all my love your way!!

  • Reply
    Danielle Alexa
    March 17, 2018 at 2:18 pm

    This is such a great post and I can relate and agree with everything you have mentioned!

    Danielle xx
    http://www.fashionbeautyblog.co.uk/

  • Reply
    Janet
    March 18, 2018 at 1:03 am

    I know you’ve been going through a lot, Paula, and you have mentioned your anxiety a few times. I identify, totally. If you think no one wants to talk about it now, go back twenty years. Very sad.

    I am a firm believer in the meds that help with the crazy mechanisms going on in your brain. Its real, its happening. Meds will change that. Talking with a psychologist will also help, you can bring out your deep fears and feelings, I am so grateful for this lady I have, who has explained why I might feel insecure, lost, sad, ignored, etc.

    I, too, was so afraid of being alone. My husband was my life raft. I was terrified if he had to go out of town. Yet we would argue, not talk, and just exist with each other. I finally faced my fears last spring. I had had it with him, and I living in a world of anger and silence. One day I packed my stuff, and took my dogs up to our lake house 100 miles away. Not many have this luxury, but let me tell you how incredibly hard this was for me. To be totally alone. I turned on lights, made a fire, and my thoughts turned to my beloved lake home into a haven. I stayed for 3 weeks straight, and then most of the summer. I learned so much about myself and my capabilities. I was stronger than I thought.

    You might call it facing your fears straight on. I call it facing my fears by making a safe place for myself. I believed I could deal with anything sent my way. I needed to be strong on my own because honestly, we will never have anyone to save us. Or, as some with anxiety, save us from ourselves and thoughts. Once we break through that wall, its very liberating.

    I now look forward to my time there alone. I’m getting reacquainted with myself. I hope you find this peace in someway yourself. You really are your very best friend. Believe that.

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      March 20, 2018 at 9:57 am

      I can’t thank you enough for your kindness, Janet! I can’t even imagine what it was like 20 years ago, I can’t believe people still are afraid or ashamed to talk about mental health. My own father used to make fun of me for having to go to therapy when I was in High School, so there’s that.

      I love your story so much, I can only imagine how life-changing that summer must have been! It sounds like it was such a scary yet amazing experience. I sometimes feel like I crave an experience like that, as scary as it might seem, maybe to travel alone, or do something completely out of my comfort zone, to really get to know myself. Your words are so true- we will never have anyone to save us. I think that the older I get, the more this becomes true. My husband is my best friend and I always rely on him to be there for me. Whenever I get extremely anxious, I always call him every 15 minutes, asking when he’s going to get home because I need him to help me calm down, haha!

      I really hope that I’ll be able to find the same peace for myself, as you were able to, thank you so much for your kind words and for sharing your story- it is so inspiring! xx

  • Reply
    Laura @laurantaina
    March 18, 2018 at 2:27 am

    Thank you so much for your post Paula. Not only it’s nice to get to know you better, the tips are very useful and despite sitting countless of hours in the doctor’s office I got something new here. It’s so important to raise the awareness and remove the stigma from mental health problems. I know it’s hard to put yourself out there online with your own name and face and talk about mental health. My Mom always says I should never post anything about my own anxiety and depression online or I won’t ever get a job lol.

    I’ve also suffered from anxiety and depression for my whole adult life.. Now 10-11 years or something? Now I’m pretty open about it IRL, but yesterday I was thinking of writing a post about my beauty routine and self-care to help to deal with anxiety.. I hesitated. One, I’m scared to put myself out there and secondly since I still have anxiety symptoms I don’t know if my tips are too useful. Maybe I could type it for myself, I dunno. This year I’ve decided to do some positive changes in my life (like cutting out toxic people in your life, for good!) and I hope they have an effect in the long run.

    My sincerest condolences for your loss and the accident, overall everything you’ve had to go through. I hope that things get easier for you, little by little. <3

    xx Laura / Laurantaina Beauty Blog

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      March 20, 2018 at 10:06 am

      Thank you so much, Laura! I am so happy you agree with me on the importance of saying these things out loud. So many people deal with depression and/or anxiety and refuse to get help because of the stigma it carries. I know someone close who has horrible anxiety problems all her life, never looked into getting help and when I mentioned to her that I’m on medication and how much it has helped me her response was “oh no, I’m not going crazy, thing’s aren’t that bad” it was a shitty thing to say, I think and just a prime example of how people, even those who have issues themselves, put stigma on mental health.

      There are so many things I’ve been afraid to talk about on my blog- from anxiety to not knowing whether I want children- and every single time the response has been amazing. I love the idea of a post about your beauty and self care routine- I say go for it! For every single person that shares their tips and how they deal with these problems, people think they’re less alone. I used to think I’m a weirdo and that no one else can relate to what I go through on daily basis. Until I finally talked about it to someone, and then it turned out they have the same issues, and they also thought they were all alone in this.

      I hope that your anxiety and depression get better, I really believe that when you make an effort to take care of yourself, to cut toxic people out, to stop doing shit you hate and pursue your passions in life, you can overcome everything. Thank you so much for kind words, Beautiful and I’m looking forward to reading that post of yours!!! :) Sending all my love and if you ever want to chat, remember I’m one email away! :) xx

      • Reply
        Laura @laurantaina
        March 21, 2018 at 7:11 am

        Thank you so much for your comment Paula. ♡ I really appreciate the time and effort you put on your comments and blog posts – spreading the awareness when things are tough for you. It inspires me to share as well.

        I’m lucky that most of my friends are on somewhat creative fields where it’s “okay to be crazy”. People won’t judge you right away because “everyone has something”, which is quite true. Even if not clinical depression, we all go through hard times. A year ago I decided to come out of closet and hold a 10 year anniversary party for my depression where I invited all of my friends. The theme was black: we had black decoration, black water, black clothes etc. It was so much fun and later many of my friends have shared their struggles with me as well. Some of them decided to seek help as well.

        Thank you so much for your encouragement, I will start working on the post! I also wanted to let you know if you ever fancy a chat, you can always DM me on IG or email :) xx

        • Reply
          Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
          March 28, 2018 at 4:02 pm

          I love that you threw yourself an anniversary party, this is honestly such a fun idea and a different way to look at things, especially when also having your friends share their own struggles with you. Thank you again for your kind words, Laura! Sending my love your way!! xx

  • Reply
    Hannah Cao
    March 18, 2018 at 8:09 am

    I love this post, living with anxiety myself! This was a really helpful post, so thank you for sharing!

    Hannah | coffee with hannah

  • Reply
    Mollie Quirk
    March 18, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    Such a helpful post. I needed this today. Thank you.

    Lots of love from Mollie xxx | http://wwwtheperksofmolliequirk.blogspot.com

  • Reply
    Naya // partyparrotblog.com
    March 19, 2018 at 3:51 am

    This is such a wonderful article, Paula. I am sure it will help many people, who suffer from anxiety and sudden panic attacks. Personally speaking, I’ve never had them until last year. First my uncle died, then my little dog was poisoned. The latter one in particular still is a very sensitive topic, because I do blame myself for not being able to protect my pet when I probably could. It was also when I read one of your articles about meditation (something I thought only “yoga people” do) and up to this day I do thank you for (mentally) kicking my butt in the right direction. Earlier last month I’ve also been in a car accident, thankfully no one was hurt, but I still have a fear of someone crashing into my mom’s car. Some days my fear just spirals out of control. Working with your head first is so crucial. I really hope you are feeling better now and that your health is back to normal, sending lots of love your way xx

    • Reply
      Paula @ thirteenthoughts.com
      March 20, 2018 at 10:19 am

      Thank you so much, Naya! So sorry to hear you’ve been in a car accident, it can be so scary! I was so paranoid to drive for about a month after my accident, I’m glad that at least that fear didn’t stick around for too long, haha!

      So sorry about you losing your uncle! I remember when you lost your pup, my heart broke for you, I can’t imagine what that must have felt like. When I lost my grandma I really thought that I was going to lose my dog too, I just can’t explain it. It was around that time that he turned 10 and I just kept thinking that I can’t handle losing him too, and how much I need him. I might sound silly, but he knew how though my loss was on me, he would put his face on my arm, whenever I had sudden outburst of cry when thinking about my Gran. I mean, you’re a dog person, so I’m sure you do get it! :) I hope you find some peace very soon, sending love right back your way! x

  • Reply
    The Sunday Mode
    March 20, 2018 at 7:57 am

    I’ve never heard of reframing before but I love that concept and I feel like that would be so helpful for my life, especially at the moment. I’ve got an anxious event coming up tomorrow actually, so I’m going to try and work on shifting those feelings to excitement instead :)

    Julia // The Sunday Mode

  • Reply
    Natalie Redman
    April 20, 2018 at 10:01 am

    Great post! I find writing it down definitely helps.

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • Reply
    Michaela
    April 20, 2018 at 11:16 am

    My anxiety is such a weird thing – usually I can pinpoint exactly what’s causing my anxious episode and address it. Sometimes, like last night, I can’t. Do you ever have the nights where consciously – you’re pretty calm and chill – but for some reason your heart wants to race, you sweat like crazy and just feel generally jittery? I hate those nights, because they keep me awake. And I wish that deep breathing, positive affirmations, and relaxation techniques worked for those nights. But they don’t and that’s super frustrating…. =/

    https://on-th3-cusp.blogspot.com/

  • Reply
    Lynn W
    May 14, 2019 at 3:48 pm

    Paula..could you share what medication your dr. prescribed? I am doing yoga and guided meditation but when I travel overseas,I feel anxious weeks before I am to depart.

    • Reply
      Paula
      June 6, 2019 at 3:49 pm

      Lynn,

      Sorry for just noticing your comment. I was on Lexapro and Klonopin for panic attacks. Both worked great for me, but everyone’s mind + body work differently. I eventually got off both medications and the interesting thing is my anxiety isn’t nearly as bad now as it once was. Wishing you the best of luck and sending love your way. x

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