In working with a Psychiatrist to help cope with the massive amounts of anxiety I’ve been dealing with this year, I’ve been learning a lot about myself. I’ve also been learning a lot of how deal with the anxiety that I have. It’s an invaluable lesson and I’m passing along the things that my psychiatrist is teaching me in hopes that it may resonate with others.
One of the things that she’s teaching me is that, when you’re anxious, it’s really easy to believe things that aren’t necessarily true.
When I get anxious, everything pisses me off. Things that would normally roll-off-my-back seem like insurmountable feats and, it really doesn’t matter what people do, it’s just going to make me angry. As a result, I tend to alienate myself from people. And, when I alienate myself from people, my head is filled with even more anxious thoughts and beliefs that I don’t belong around people and that the people in my life don’t like me. It’s a vicious cycle that I’ve been spinning in for months now. Spending some time sitting down with my psychiatrist and talking about this cycle, she’s provided me some tips to help keep myself calm when I get anxious.
So here are the tips:
- When you’re anxious and your spinning, thinking negative thoughts that you cannot control,ask yourself “Is this really true?” Really stop and think about it. Don’t just allow yourself to say ‘Yes it’s true’. How do you know it’s true? Are you thinking inside of said person’s brain? Do you know their thoughts? Do you have hard and fast evidence of what said person is thinking? Because if you cannot prove with 100% certainty that the thoughts/feelings that are making you anxious are, in fact, 100% truth, you need to reflect that on yourself, not on them. Learning to take those situations and put it on yourself, saying “Why am I thinking this? Why is my brain doing this?” will allow you to be more cognizant of your negative thoughts and how to see past them when you do get annoyed/anxious/frustrated.
- Self-care is so integral. Looking after yourself on the outside will help you to feel better on the inside. Exercise. Wash your face. Put your feet up when you get the opportunity. Take the little moments that you get during the day to treat yourself, or enjoy yourself. Go to a yoga class, if you can. Or, if you can’t go to Yoga, practice some at-home meditation. When your body is at peace, it will help your mind to be at peace, so don’t just do these things when you feel anxious, do them always.
- Don’t own anyone’s bullshit but your own. This one is a big problem for me, and it’s something that I bet a lot of people who struggle with mental illness struggle with. I think that, largely, when you’re anxious and struggling, it can be very easy for you to take on the burden of someone’s lies, bullshit or nonsense without even thinking twice about it. This is something that you need to recognize when it’s happening and put a stop to. If someone lies to you, don’t just accept the lie, call them out on it. Say ‘Thank you, but I do not deserve your lies’. If someone treats you unfairly, remind them that it’s a reflection of them and not yourself. Actually say it out loud… not just inside of your head. Speaking our truth, saying the words in a manner which they can hear will do more for your psyche than anything else in that moment. Feel free to leave the burden of their bullshit with them.
- Don’t let negativity people rent space in your head. This one ties back to my previous post (Tips for coping with anxiety from a Psychiatrist). When people in your life are being particularly negative, it’s really easy to let them eat away at you. What my psychiatrist recommends doing is keeping a happy memory, one happy memory, in your mind and regurgitating that memory in your head or out loud when someone’s negativity is tearing you down. Forcing yourself to think of happy thoughts in the moments when someone is being particularly shitty, it will force much needed serotonin into your brain and provide you the extra ‘umph’ you need in order to end the situation. Whether that be walking away from it, telling them to shut up, asking them kindly to move on, or however you end up doing it, when you’re thinking happy thoughts in your mind, it’ll be easier for you to kick their negativity to the curb.
- Find your strength. One of the things that my Psychiatrist tells me is that I’m really good at standing up for other people and for coming to the rescue of someone I love or someone that I care about, but when it comes to myself, I tend to lay down and die (so to speak). I have a feeling I am not the only one. One of the best ways to cope with your anxiety is to find your strength, she says. Knowing that you have the power to stand up for yourself is so integral to switching off the negative parts to your brain.
- Clean your space. This one should go without saying, but it can also often be a struggle for people. If you’re living in a space that is dirty, cluttered or dusty, it can contribute vastly to your mental health. Much like how SAD(Seasonal Affected Disorder) is a real thing, (Space Affected Disorder) is also very much a real thing. If your indoor space is the equivalent of dark, grey, rainy and gross days, it’s going to to affect the way in which you view the world. Pick up where you can. Dust when you have a few spare moments. Throw away or recycle clutter that you don’t need. It will help you long term.
Most of all, she says, is to go easy on yourself. Your issues are valid and you need time to properly grieve in order to move past them. This is a life-long commitment that you need to make to yourself in order to feel better. You owe it to yourself.