Happy Wellness Wednesday, friends! Despite my relatively even-keeled, chill, and positive personality, I can surprisingly be a rather anxious person. While never debilitating or persistent, my anxiety can sometimes flair up when I have to present a major project, sit for an exam, drive behind a slow driver, or wait for a crush to respond to a text. My hands get sweaty, my heart starts racing, and it’s so hard to breathe. I know that sounds terribly dramatic, but those moments often feel dramatic and high-stakes. If this sounds remotely familiar, I want you to know you’re not alone. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that more than 25% of 13 to 18 year olds have an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
While my anxious feelings don’t exactly indicate I have an anxiety disorder, it’s important to know that anxiety manifests itself in many different ways and come with unique risks. So, if your anxiety constantly makes you feel fatigued or dizzy, and/or causes headaches, shaking, nausea, and difficulty breathing, especially if it is debilitating, please seek professional help. Don’t be embarrassed, nervous, or scared. Take care of yourself because you’re all you have. If you feel like your anxiety isn’t chronic or paralyzing, here are five of my favorite strategies for managing anxiety:
- Deep breathing. Breathe in for five counts, exhale for five counts. When I inhale, I take in all of the anxious feelings and distracting thoughts and exhale them out, relieving myself of all negative emotions. Repeat as necessary.
- Clinch and release. Ball up your fists as tight as you can, taking in the anxiety, and release your clinched fists to release those anxious feelings. Repeat as necessary.
- Self-talk. I enjoy doing this exercise while I breathe deeply or clinch and release. Talk to yourself. First name the feeling, then ask why you’re feeling this way, and remind yourself of your reality: this, too, will pass.
- Journaling. Along the same lines as self-talk, this is less of an in-the-moment kind of exercise, but is an effective strategy for some deep reflection. Find a quiet place and ask yourself the same questions I outlined in the previous activity and try to dig deep. Sometimes if we determine the root, we can discover a more permanent solution.
- Coloring. If you’ve followed me for a while, you know I LOVE coloring books. Those stress-reducing patterns really help calm me down. Just be sure to grab a great batch of colored pencils or markers. Definitely a life-saver!
For more tips, take a look at last year’s podcast on managing anxiety. What are some of your strategies? Comment below!