This time of year can be difficult for everyone, even those who don’t suffer from diagnosed anxiety. Some quick ways of coping with anxiety are handy tools to have. Here are some tips:
- breath. That’s right, take a deep breath and release it slowly. You can use the 4-7-8 method if that’s something you’re comfortable doing. If not, use visualization to go to your “happy place” while taking slow even breaths.
- evaluate your negative thoughts. Are they real or grounded in reality? Just because your aunt said nasty things to your husband 15 years ago doesn’t mean she’ll do that this year. She’s medicated, right? All kidding aside, negative thoughts breed like rabbits, and if you can evaluate your fear or negative thought as being highly unlikely, you’ll be able to eliminate them growing beyond your control.
- write things down. This means different things to different people. For me, it means making lists of things that I have to do and even creating a spreadsheet with recipe ingredients, quantities, and totals. That way I purchase enough flaked coconut, chocolate chips, pounds of butter, etc. That eliminates a lot of stress for me. I hate worrying about having enough of all the supplies I need. That sort of writing absolutely does nothing for my sister. She needs to write anything that isn’t related to her anxiety; usually short stories or poems. They divert her attention for the 15 minutes she needs to get back on track.
- be active. Physical activity is important, and can’t be stressed enough. You don’t have to go visit your rowing machine or assault bike for 20 minutes. Fifteen minutes of stretching or walking outside might be enough.
- try aromatherapy. It doesn’t have to be fancy and doesn’t require any expensive diffusers or oils. Try lighting a candle with a scent you find pleasant. Lavender and chamomile can be soothing, and if you dried some from the herb garden, now might be the time to pull some out of the freezer or pantry. Scents are often tied to memories, and if you have one that you know to be positive, use that too. Smelling sheets that have hung on the line to dry reminds me of summers spent with my grandparents. Even during the winter, I try to hang out sheets because I find the smell (and crispness, I won’t lie) comforting.
Anxiety can lead to very real physical maladies, so minimizing the effects is important. However, if you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), quick fixes should only be a part of your treatment plan. You can find more information on long-term strategies for dealing with anxiety here.