Anxiety can be overwhelming. Many people turn to medications. Mostly, in my time as a counselor I have seen this add to more complicated issues. Medication is time limited and a band aid. Real relief from anxiety comes with daily practice of coping skills. A solid commitment to get to therapy weekly. Figure out what works for you. Every person is different, and that means coping skills will be different. Anxiety has many different forms, panic, physical issues, depersonalization to name a few. The best “cure” for anxiety I have found is cognitive behavior therapy. Therapy helps us face the real issue. Fear. What can you do on a daily basis to get through if you can’t get to therapy or you are not ready for therapy? Here are a few ideas to try on that help me in my personal life.
For me, facing my fears means that I get out there and do something that actually leaves me feeling a little uncomfortable. I am a hiker/backpacker. The fear is always there a head of time, “what if I didn’t bring enough food?” “What if we get lost?” etc. Never fails that the fear exists and, other people try to add to my fear with their own fear. However, I know that it will move. The fear will change. Once I am actually out in nature, my fear is gone. Funny how that works. Nature forces people to be in the here and now. Doctors are starting to prescribe hiking (because it works).
I play the guitar, sing and dance whenever I get the chance as a habit. This is key for me to relieve anxiety. Playing music takes so much energy because it comes from the soul and it is honestly like a time warp. Hours move faster than ever when I am playing music. I love creating a song, and/or lyrics. They are a way for me to get the anxiety out. The key for me is that making time for music as a habit so when something does give me anxiety I am comfortable gravitating towards it (because I do it daily). The habit of playing music is why this is a coping skill.
Take a Break from Social Media
We love to be connected to each other which for me has been a double edge sword. I want to stay in touch with family, friends, and with my private practice communicate with my clients at times. One day after listening to several people talk about how social media has overwhelmed them I decided to see what happened if I got off of Facebook (at the time my main social media site). At first I found myself checking other sites, like Pinterest and Instagram. After one week I noticed that I was SO much happier without it. I was more focused on myself and my life. After a few weeks I was on my phone less, or I would spend my time reading something that could be useful to me and my self care.
Taking care of self is so important and focusing on what is happening right now. WE can use other approaches other than medication that help us actually face the fear we are experiencing. The approaches I use are music, listening, playing, dancing and writing as a habit. Getting out in nature, seeing beautiful parts of the world keeping me in the here and now. Using social media less and less helps me focus on me. How do you cope with anxiety? Comment below, and share this post if you found it helpful. As always I am open to feedback. This is my first real blog post (this is a work in progress as I am).
Christine Weller, LMHC