Anxiety is no joke to anyone who suffers from it. Having an anxiety attack can be a crippling event and often hard to explain to people who witness it. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, roughly 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. A few of those people who have a history of anxiety came together on Reddit to share some of their best tips to help them manage an episode before it starts. Even if you are just stressed out, these can be useful as well.
DISCLAIMER: These are not the recommendations of doctors or anxiety experts. They are from people who claim to have anxiety and this is what has worked for them so far.
7. Play catch
It seems like a pretty novel idea, but playing catch when you feel an anxiety attack coming on can be incredibly useful in steering your body away from it, according to Reddit user Jade_Dragonfly13. You can play with someone, but more likely you are going to be playing with yourself. Throw the ball or object up in the air or against a wall. The Redditor emphasizes that, for this to work, you have to be doing it fast.
The thought is that the energy you put into the activity will refocus your mind onto a mundane and simple task, thus distracting you from the thing or things that are triggering the anxiety in the first place.
Next: What you ingest can have an effect on your anxiety.
6. Cut caffeine out of your diet
One Reddit user suggested cutting coffee out of your diet. “Many people aren’t aware that it can cause or worsen anxiety,” the Reddit user said. Another echoed the sentiment and claimed “My anxiety levels were cut in half when I stopped drinking caffeine. I didn’t realize what it was doing to me because I drank it almost every day.”
There is some actual science to this as well. Dr. Chris Iliades says that caffeine affects your fight or flight mechanism. Having those ramped up when you have a general anxiety disorder can help trigger an anxiety attack.
Next: Some behavioral therapy is a good route as well.
5. Cognitive behavioral therapy
Creating the ability to be mindful of what is happening takes time and practice. Essentially you would have to take “those mal-adaptive thoughts, learn to recognize them and try to figure out why you’re having them.” The Reddit user says that you can look at those thoughts in a more “detached manner” that will help you get over them.
It’s not something that you can take casually; you really have to dedicate your time to learning the methods. As the Redditor points out “As time goes on, this approach becomes second nature, and you start to feel your anxious thoughts less.”
Next: This leads nicely into the next trick for general care.
4. Start practicing meditation
There is a litany of styles of meditation out there that can help calm your nerves. A bunch of users brought this method up as a great way to help stave off anxiety. You can meditate standing up, sitting down or even laying down. Everyone is different and has their own way of clearing their mind, and that’s why it’s so effective at helping with the symptoms of anxiety.
If you think of your mind like a closet, a messy closet would be an anxious mind. Meditation helps you clean it up and organize it. As with people’s closets, everyone has a different level of messiness.
Next: Take your anxious thoughts and write them down.
3. Write out the problem
One user suggested taking your anxious thoughts and writing them down on paper. The idea is to identify what is actually making you anxious in the first place. Once you start writing it down, it gives it a place to go, rather than burrowing inside your head. “It helps to keep things in place and calms me to know I have space to think it through,” the user writes. Thinking things through is often a very helpful way to alleviate some anxiety.
Next: Visualize yourself overcoming the problems.
2. Use visualization
Much like the way writing creates something tangible to look at, so does visualization. The basic concept is personifying all those problems you have or making them into inanimate objects that you can control. One user suggested taking all those thoughts and turning them into a person and telling them to “SHUT THE F$%K UP.” The action itself is actually quite powerful because “visualizing the process of silencing these thoughts really clears [the] mind.”
Next: Sometimes medical intervention is the only thing.
1. Find the right medication for you
As one user points out, “if you have anxiety or OCD at clinical levels and you cannot function on a day to day basis then it’s worth looking into [getting medicated].” They aren’t dismissing the other tactics as being useful, rather they are saying they amplify the effects of the exercises. “The techniques,” the Redditor continues, “did eventually help a lot, but only after finding the right medication. It is a force multiplier for everything.”
Follow The Cheat Sheet on Facebook!