We’ve all heard about anger management–what about anxiety management?
Now, not every highly sensitive person struggles with anxiety, but many of us do.
Anger management teaches people how to understand and acknowledge their feelings and anger. Us anxious folks can teach ourselves to acknowledge when we are starting to go down the rabbit hole of anxiety and worry.
When people feel anxiety coming on, they often rack their brains to find reasons for the symptoms in hopes that they can figure it out and “solve” it. But, often, the source of your heightened emotions isn’t real, so your brain goes in a circle of worry, trying to find the source of the worry, when there isn’t one.
There have been times I’ve tried to explain my anxiety to my husband, and he’s said, “Let me get this straight: you are worrying about worrying?” And I can’t help but laugh, because he’s right.
So, how to manage your anxiety?
When you feel the panic coming on, try to ignore it. Realize what is happening and don’t let it grab on to you. I know this is easier said than done. Once you decide to ignore it, then realize that you need to find a way to relax, immediately.
“This feeling of dread and tension comprises a state of low grade fear, which can also cause other physical symptoms…The feeling of dread is just the emotional manifestation of physical tension.” (source)
I tell myself something like, “Ok, my mind wants me to freak out right now, but I don’t want to let this happen because I hate the way it feels.” Then I focus on taking relaxing breaths and try to find something to distract myself. I will remove myself completely from the situation. If I feel the panic when I’m working on my computer, I’ll get up and walk away. Sometimes I will put on a mindless TV show. Or, I will tell my spouse, “I’m feeling anxious and starting to freak out. Please help.” And he will either help me take my mind off it or we’ll talk about what’s worrying me, and he’ll explain things though his non-anxiety addled brain. It helps a lot to have someone who understands.
This might sound ridiculous, but I remember one particular bad night. I was stressing big time about something. I sat down and watched a few episodes of the claymation kids’ show Shaun the Sheep. It is funny, clever, and most of all, innocent and sweet, and it always makes me smile.
What techniques do you use to manage your anxiety?
I read something relaxing or draw… paint.. or make poems. Focusing on something artistic gets your mind off of what causes the anxiety.
Listen to music , I find Marti Pellow’s voice (Lead singer of Wet Wet Wet) particularly soothing, and George Michael. Robbie Williams has many songs I can relate to having been through depression and suffered anxiety himself. I also try to rationalize with myself that worrying about something so much isn’t going to change things. Things are going to happen or not happen whether I worry about them or not . Doesn’t always work though.
Kelly, thanks for yet another great post! Your tips for managing anxiety are spot on. I must admit that trying to ignore it does not generally work for me. I agree with you that distraction and relaxation are both key. Here’s my general strategy: I start by acknowledging my building anxiety. I remind myself that my anxious, pre-panic feelings are driven by my thoughts about anxiety and fears. I try to visualize my thoughts as just flowing through my mind, like water flowing through a stream. They aren’t necessarily correct, true or valid – they are just thoughts. They aren’t engraved in steel! I picture my anxious thoughts flowing past. I let them go and say to myself, “I choose peace.” Then I immediately focus on something (anything) else and do something relaxing, like a breathing exercise. The more I practice these actions, the easier they become and the more empowered I feel. I appreciate how you address many practical subjects here and create a forum for discussing them. Thanks. Carol
So glad I found you on Pinterest, I was just talking to my Mom earlier tonight about being an HSP, your site has a wealth of great information, thank you! When my anxiety gets really bad, I color in my adult coloring book (maybe it’s the childhood memory of coloring when life was much simpler? ), I read my Bible, especially Psalms & Proverbs, I clean house or take a shower, these things help me to calm back down. Sometimes just saying out loud I’m really anxious right now helps, maybe it makes it less scary? Ok, now what can I do to help myself calm down & move to one of the options I mentioned. By the way, as you’ll see, my name is Kelly also:)
Hi Kelly! Thanks so much for the comment. That’s cool that you found this site through Pinterest!! I’m glad you found some useful stuff here. 🙂 Cleaning is weird for me–it makes me feel better, but then reminds me of all the other things I need to clean around the house!!