So, I’m not a mental health professional. I got a degree in psychology from university, but that hardly makes me qualified. What I am is an author with anxiety, and all of The Anxious Author blog posts talk about my experiences with anxiety and the things I do to cope with it. While some of the info in this segment is hopefully useful in some ways, none of my blog posts should be used to diagnose anyone with anxiety or recommend treatments.
This week, I’ve had a think about new things I’ve started doing to cope with my anxiety. Because I have worked from home for the past nine months, my coping mechanisms have changed a bit, as I’ve had the benefit of privacy to do things that are regarded as unusual by the public. Or just aren’t possible to achieve in a public setting.
After the benefit of working from home, here are three exercises I use to curb my anxiety:
To this day, I suspect I’m neurodivergent, but will never be able to have this actually confirmed because healthcare systems and governments don’t give a crap unless you can’t contribute to society in the way they expect you to. Even then, the craps they do give are pitiful. Regardless, since the pandemic started, I’ve begun actively stimming.
Stimming is self-stimulating behaviour and often involves movements that are repetitive and rhythmic, and usually soothes. I do a lot of stimming that involves my hands, often moving my fingers in a way that mimics playing a trumpet. I have no idea why this soothes my anxiety, perhaps movement gets rid of anxious energy, but it’s worked wonders.
Stimming might not be something everyone has a compulsion to do, and some may prefer to mask their compulsion. But very slowly, society is becoming more inclusive, and I hope one day it will make public spaces comfortable for people who like to stim.
When I worked at a supermarket, I used to work with giant industrial freezers, and these became instrumental in helping me stop panic attacks at work. Do not try this yourself, as the temperatures become dangerously low and they are, by and large, dangerous places. However, there are other ways that we can initiate temperature changes, which personally help me curb my anxiety, although this may not be the case for everyone.
Keeping ice cube trays stocked are helpful, because I have applied ice cubes to the back of my neck, sometimes my chest, and face, in order to remind my body that it’s not in any danger. My guess is, that when bodies experience a temperature change suddenly, they stop fretting about other things and concern themselves with the fact that they might need to adapt in the near future. This is just my take on it, although I am no scientist!
No matter what the reason behind this phenomenon, interesting though it may be, using ice cubes has helped curb my anxiety when it threatens to spiral.
I take issue with meditation guides that tell us you have to think of nothing to meditate. For those of us with overactive brains that can’t sit still, thinking of nothing takes so much effort that we’re more stressed out than when we started. Luckily, I’ve found a way to meditate without thinking of nothing, and it’s all about creating a happy place in my mind that is relaxing, but not necessarily comfortable.
I’ve had a bit of a fascination with flying lately, so my happy meditation place is flying through a spectacular, colourful, space-type situation. The colours change a lot, I fly past stars, and it brings about an almost immediate sense of peace that makes me forget I even have anxiety. I don’t remember how these visualisations started, and I can tentatively attribute it to having the mental freedom for my brain to figure out what it needed to visualise to experience this peace.
Regardless, having this awesome space-world at my disposal has been the biggest aid in curbing my anxiety, by far. Maybe approaches like this could help anyone who wants the peaceful benefits of meditation, without the struggle of having to think of nothingness. Before this, I straight up couldn’t meditate for toffee, but now, it’s almost a daily ritual.