Anxiety Coping Skills
I grappled with how to start this blog post. Do I admit that I too, feel lost, confused, worried, and a pit in my stomach? Our collective society took another hit with the senseless killing of George Floyd, and we are grappling with years of systemic racism and countering with an anti-racist stance.
We can no longer sit in the background, simply saying, “I’m not racist,” while our black brothers and sisters experience racism and violence on a daily basis. Sometimes we have to go through hell to get to the other side, and for some of us, this feels like we are stuck. Coping skills for anxiety and anxiety treatment help people get out of the repeating patterns that leave you feeling like you are stuck on a hamster wheel.
You go through your day with constant distractions. Kids asking for snacks or entertainment, laundry, meal preparation, and cleaning. Between tending to everyone else’s needs, you tackle work projects and tasks and feel guilty because you know you are capable of meeting a higher standard. You watch the news and social media coverage of the protests and feel a wide range of emotions as you watch the footage. A part of you feels invigorated and hopeful, and another part of you fearful and sad that our world is so divided. Still reeling from two months of social distancing and financial stress, you fear that the new normal will never feel normal.
To cope with your anxiety, you drink more wine or beer than you normally do on a weeknight, stay up late streaming your latest binge show or game. You distract yourself with projects that never seem to get finished, and distance yourself to find peace and solace amidst the chaos of your house.
When we experience immense stress, we often resort to the easiest method for coping or the lowest hanging fruit. Sometimes, we notice that we don’t feel right, but can’t identify what it is. We feel frustrated and use our vices to ease the tension in our body. The alcohol dulls the ache but fails to extinguish it completely. We try to stuff the feelings down deeper and deeper in hopes we can keep them at bay. Eventually, the seams burst, and we are flooded with emotion.
Feeling Your Emotions
Feeling the feelings is a good thing, though it can be difficult to decipher them. It is not uncommon for people to feel anger and frustration, but at a deeper level their true experience is hurt or fear. Sometimes we hold back our feelings because of discomfort. They signal to us that something is shifting and changing within ourselves, which expels the beautiful but messy parts of our inner world. That same sensitivity that drove you to another drink is the same sensitivity that enables you to create and experience immense joy and satisfaction from your creations. Coping skills for anxiety and anxiety treatment can help you manage stress and bad feelings associated with anxiety.
The next time you feel that familiar tension in your body, take a moment and allow your mind to wander to different parts of your body and feel how each part feels right now. Observe and notice the thoughts in your head without judgement. Once you are connected to the feeling in your body, ask yourself, “What is this feeling called?”
With practice, you will learn to identify and observe your feelings in peace and live a life with less anxiety and more ease. You can further this exercise and spend 5-10 minutes sitting quietly while breathing. As you breathe out, imagine you are blowing out the tension, tightness, bad feelings, and stress. With every breath, you let go of something no longer serving you. You can even imagine a color for the things you are breathing out. You can also rate your level of anxiety before and after this exercise, with 0 being the least anxious and 10 being the most anxious you’ve ever felt. Compare your levels and notice your progress over time.