Having anxiety can seem truly scary and terrifying at times. When you’re in the waves of the panic attacks, the fear, and the mind-numbing thoughts we can’t shut off, we can sometimes feel pretty alone–especially if those around us don’t understand what we’re going through.
Luckily, there are several sites online where people support each other (sometimes better than our own family). Reddit, of course, is a place where users are always offering advice and support to people going through similar situations. After searching through forums and AskReddit questions, I learned a lot of different mechanisms for coping and dealing with anxiety–especially when it’s at its worst.
Keeping busy. I notice my anxiety gets pretty bad when I don’t have a job (I’ve just left uni and am travelling now so haven’t had a steady career yet) or anything to keep me occupied. Exercise is great, as a lot of people have said, but having a solid routine is what keeps me settled.
50mg Sertraline, no caffeine & no alcohol. Also, acceptance. Once I actually accepted I had a disease and saw my doctor for treatment, I felt so much better. You can make your anxiety so much worse by questioning why you have it, and even wondering if you’re making it up.
Find ways to consciously control and slow your breathing, and cool yourself down. I associated my own anxiety attacks with uncontrollably increasing breathing and pulse along with hot flashes, so counteracting those were very helpful. I daresay it worked; the frequency of my attacks decreased over time and I’ve been about half a year now without incident. There are still times when I feel the potential for one to start, but I now have enough control where it hasn’t escalated to the point of actually being an anxiety attack.
Meditation, even if it’s only for 5 minutes a day. Also, spend time visualizing what it is that you want to do. For example, if you’re nervous about going to a party, then spend time visualizing yourself being relaxed and comfortable at the party. The mind if a powerful tool, learn to make it work for you instead of against you.
I have panic disorder. If I’m at home, watching a good TV show that isn’t too dark/tense often helps.
My breathing technique: 5 seconds in, hold 5 seconds, breathe out 5 seconds. I learned this trick in DBT, and while there are some variations that lower your heart rate even more (4-7-8 is good for getting to sleep), doing this 3-4 times in a row always gets more oxygen to my brain and helps me sort out my thoughts a little easier.
Prior to discovering this, I tried everything. I have about four anxiety disorders diagnosed and have experienced anxiety my entire life, so I like to think that if this works for me, it may work for most people.
For me it depends on the situation. If I’m having a rough week I tangle up two necklaces and keep them in my pocket and when my anxiety picks up I take them out and detangle them. And repeat untill I’m just focusing on untangling the neclaces. Also if I’m sitting in class doodling helps me. It helps me focus on what the teacher is saying. And if it gets really bad like on the verge of panic attack and I don’t wanna leave I draw circles in the same spot over and over. Repetitive stuff works good.
when I’m alone I need to breathe fresh air outside because I feel trapped, counting your breaths helps, if someone’s with you I make them tell me a story something funny to get my mind off of it but hate being touched or talk about food. gum helps me a lot too if I’m in class I know highschool can be hard and you can’t just get up and leave keep gum and a type of cold drink so you can feel it when you drink it.
Getting a dog. Funny thing is I didn’t even want to get one, I’m a cat guy and had a bad experience with a dog when I was younger. However my wife put up with my 2 cats for long enough so it wasn’t fair of me to refuse her when she wanted a dog, so here we are. Having something that both loves AND depends on me makes a huge difference – no offence to my wife or cats, but they’re pretty independent!
you need to maximize the amount of moments where you “lose yourself” and live so completely in the moment that you are no longer self-aware.
For a period of time I try to reduce coffe and other stimulants.
Staying off social media seems to be overlooked but it helps me a lot. It’s not the total cure but a piece to the puzzle. You’re subconsciously comparing your life to a bunch of fake portrayals of other people’s happy lives which can make you feel down.
Also if you’re on it a lot you become way more productive when you delete it which lifts your mood.
Definitely exercise. If I get super anxious about something, I start to get very jittery and I feel like I just have way too much energy. Then when I go for a moderately strenuous bike ride, my mind feels so much calmer and I can think much more clearly.
I’ve learned a lot of breathing exercises and progressive muscle relaxation. Square breathing is so simple but has helped me a lot. Seeing an excellent therapist and being on a low dose of an SSRI has also helped.
Mindfulness meditation/Cognitive behavioral therapy. Realizing that you are still in control of what you consciously attend to, the thoughts and feelings that run through your mind do not have to consume your identity. Observe them without judgement, let them pass without indulging in them and they will fade away.
For me getting a new kitten tugged me out of depression. I’m a huge cat person and this kitten just chose me like we got home and she came out of the cage straight to my lap to nap. Two years later her just being here loving me has made me a totally different person.
I chose self meditation instead of self medication.
I pep talk myself in my head and control my breathing by saying over and over…
“It’s not life or death, you CAN do this.” “Take it one breath at a time, you GOT this.”
And I make no excuses for moving slow or eating slow or accomplishing tasks slow. I refuse to let anyone control me anymore or dictate to me how I should behave, including society.
There’s only one me, and I have to live with me, so only me can make or break — me.
One breath at a time.
Alright, I work in politics so I pretty much have to give speeches and talk to random strangers on a weekly basis. I also anxiety problems and self-esteem issues that have plagued me since middle school. Most people are pretty shocked when I tell them that, so I guess the following ways of dealing with it are pretty (for me at least) effective.
But before we get there, here’s what you shouldn’t do if your anxious:
Drink: It’s guaranteed to bring you back to earth. Like its a depressant, it’s chemically ensured to do that. The problem is that it’s too good at bringing you down. You will become reliant on it when you feel like the problem is too insurmountable to fix, which most anxious people know is pretty much everything. It took me a long time to stop drinking guys, trust me don’t fall into this trap.
Spill Your Guts: For a while Hollywood convinced me that a sudden, expository and usually emotional reveal of information to the cause of your problem is the key to fixing your said problems. Just tell your boss that you’re super stressed out and your dog just died! Your tears will convince him to take pity! It might. Once or twice. But if you keep doing that when your anxious (which is all the time) you’re going to develop a reputation and the cool job assignments are going to magically start appearing on your co-workers desk. Anxiety makes you want to fix shit right the fuck now. Resist that, take a deep breath and do what I do:
Nature is not stressed out. Nature moves slow. No matter what small stuff is freaking you out (and in retrospect its all small), nature doesn’t give a shit. Unless your a rabbit being stalked by a wolf, nature will very rarely try and kill you. Even if you are a fat, monstrous blob, evolution has still deemed you the apex predator of your environment. So of all the places in the world you can hide and be safe, it’s the woods. I once had a pretty bad arguement with my boss on a Friday. I had an anxiety attack, packed a suitcase and took off to Maine for the weekend. By Monday I was ok. Why? Because I had enough alone time to realize we really didn’t have a relationship destroying argument and we could still have a positive relationship. It took time in complete stillness for me to really get that through my head. But sometimes being alone is the exact opposite of what you need, sometimes you need a-
2. Venting Friend
Find someone who understands you have anxiety and how you get when you are under that influence. Then, if you are on the verge of an attack, call said person and vent. Remember that “don’t spill your guts” rule I made up earlier? This is the one exception to that. Find someone who will listen to you and then just come back and tell you everything will be alright. Usually for me this is my girlfriend or when I’m single just a very close female friend. For you it doesn’t have to be. It could be anyone who will listen. I just find that when you get the thoughts out of your head and into reality via speech, they tend to become apparent to you that they are in fact ridiculous. Ok but say you live in New York and don’t really have access to great woodlands or you don’t have a friend who wants to listen to you bitch all the time? What if you do both and neither work?
3. Don’t be afraid to get help
I don’t see this so much on reddit, more irl. But whatever, I’ll say it anyway. There are those among you who think that seeing a therapist or a psychiatrist is akin to throwing your hands up and surrendering. Your brain will tell you that you are He-Man and whatever problems you probably don’t have can be solved with sheer force of will and a powerful mustache. To the brain that thinks that I say this: shut the fuck up. Listen, I’ve shook hands with presidents, I’ve been on TV for good reasons and I’ve seen double D’s in real life. It was the hardest thing in the world for me to admit that I had a medical issue I needed to see a doctor about. But I’m really glad I did.
I’m on meds now and honestly between that and therapy it’s really improved my quality of life. I’m not ashamed of it, and neither should you. Anxiety never really goes away, but it can definitely be controlled to make life easier.
This app called SAM. It has a bunch of cool features, like it tracks your anxiety levels, gives you different exercises and techniques to control your anxiety, has you think about the thing that causes your anxiety to raise your levels, then it helps you shift away the focus. My favorite part is it has a paragraph for you to slowly read while you’re having an anxiety/panic attack. It helps a bunch.
And if you’re currently in therapy, having it track your anxiety levels helps a ton so you can show your therapist exactly what happened to cause it, how bad your anxiety was, etc.
I drink water or tea. The time I spend doing that I focus on just doing that. Nothing else. It helps me regain my thoughts, and its a moment where I can’t speak.
I go to the library by myself. Turn off my phone, pop in my music and get a good book. Can stay there for hours.
Force yourself to do the thing you don’t want to do.
After you do it a few times the anxiety goes away, and it becomes routine.
There’s really no secret to this. At the end of the day, you just have to pick yourself up and do the thing. Whatever your reasoning, whatever your motivation, you still just have to do it.
Being active helped loads, along with eating right. Honestly, small and simple daily routines knock out most of my anxiety. Disorder is a huge trigger for me, so the more I keep to a schedule, the calmer and more rational I am.
I bought an adult coloring book (“The Enchanted Forest”, I don’t remember who the author/artist is off the top of my head) and try to exercise regularly (I take spin classes at least 4x a week and I’m trying to go every morning). Honestly I think coloring and exercise are the only things keeping me sane anymore, and ever since I started doing both of these things, my anxiety has calmed down considerably.
I look back to the most stressful/worst time I have ever had before and say “if I can survive that,I can survive this.”
Working out and eating healthy. Friends dragged me into it. Changed my life.
I usually just don’t… Overcome the anxiety. I end up channeling all that energy into what I need to do, ya know? I’ll get super jittery and nervous and I’ll tell myself “ya gotta do this ya gotta get it done c’mon lets go let’s go let’s go” and I’ll just fuckin.. Do it, I guess. It doesn’t always work, but it’s my go to strategy, especially because I feel a lot more releived when I’m done with the task(s).
This will get buried but I have some solutions that no one has mentioned:
Avoid caffeine. Caffeine aggravates anxiety especially in people diagnosed with anxiety/panic disorders
If you are in the middle of an anxiety attack, eat something. When you eat, you signal to your body that you’re okay. This goes way back to our ancestors who ate only when they had hunted enough food and felt safe.
Your body is there to protect you. Most individuals who experience an anxiety attack have a sense of impending doom or just think they might be dying. But have you ever noticed that during an anxiety attack you always question your symptoms? Are they really that serious? No. Do you think you should go to the hospital? No. Chances are after thinking about it, you’ll realize that the symptoms you are experiencing are not that serious. This means you are not dying and you are okay.
Deep breathes expanding your tummy, not your chest. Expanding your chest can actually increase the feeling of tension.
My anxiety tends to start physically– it can be triggered by events or thoughts, but my first indication of an episode is generally felt in my gut. At this point, I tend to start filing through my mental rolodex of things I should worry about, and if I can’t find an immediate one, I’ll search through recent memory and see if I can’t figure out something I need to be freaking out about. Then I focus on that, and the vicious cycle starts.
So what I try to do, and it’s certainly helped me manage, is say to myself, “this is a physical event, and it will pass; don’t feed the troll.” While I’m still in an anxious state physically, I don’t allow that state to metastasize into a mental one. Therefore it passes much more quickly.
Sometimes I can even convince myself to redefine the state entirely; I’m not anxious, I’m excited! They feel the same physically, so why let your brain turn it into a negative? This doesn’t always work, but it’s certainly allowed me to perform better in social or professional/academic situations.
Daily yoga practice.
i have rare anxiety attacks, but when they happen. i put myself in a relaxing environment, breath deeply and calmly and tell myself, “although it feels differently, nobody ever died from an anxiety attack.”
Watch a funny video on Youtube. Seriously.
Panic attack during lab?
Step out, go to the bathroom, watch a video on the toilet. Generally helps.
My therapist once taught me this extremely effective method that I still use to this day.
In your mind, or out loud name: 5 things you can see 5 things you can hear 5 things you can feel
It always instantly made me realize how physical my presence was and how my mind was not the only thing in the world happening. It helps you step back and see the bigger picture of the goings on around you. If you are ever overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or on the verge of a panic attack, try this method once and let me know what you thought. Really meditate on the 5 things you observe.