5 IMPACTFUL HACKS FOR DEALING WITH ANXIETY
Dealing with anxiety is no walk in the park. Anxiety seems to sneak up on you at the worst time and pounce. Your pulse quickens, your palms sweat, and your temperature rises as your thoughts go into overdrive. So, how can you cope? Here are 5 impactful hacks for dealing with anxiety.
Please note if you are experiencing anxiety related to any form of PTSD, or if it’s rooted in trauma, these exercises may not be for you. Don’t push yourself somewhere you know you shouldn’t go. I suggest seeking out a mental health professional to help you on your journey.
1. GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO WORRY
Wait… Give yourself time to worry?! Say what! Are you crazy?
Maybe a little, but hear me out. You spend a lot of time fighting your anxiety, right? So what if you stopped? What if instead you set a timer on your phone and let yourself worry until it went off? Nothing too much, say 5 minutes.
You stop resisting it. You allow it to be and think through it. Then you move on to the next thing on your schedule when the timer dings. It sounds crazy, but it may work for you. Give it a try.
Amy’s Real Life Experience: This one works for me, a lot. Reminding myself to do it, and then allowing myself to do it is something else. Our bodies think we are in fight and flight, it’s this weird combo of wanting to run away from everything, and being stuck in our head about it. This exercise takes a lot of time and patience with yourself.
I usually make sure I’m home alone for the night and do this exercise. A lot of the times I cry my eyes out, and the release is insane. Please note, in my own experience I am processing trauma, not just unrealistic anxieties, about not having enough time. That being said, I know myself and my body and what I can handle very well. I know this won’t push me over the edge. There are a lot of people just starting out on this journey of self-discovery and releasing anxiety. This exercise may not be right for you, at least not right now.
2. REDUCE YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE (AND SUGAR TOO!)
Caffeine and sugar can make you feel alert and happy. But what happens when the euphoric effect wears off? You’re stuck feeling sluggish and irritated.
Have you also noticed what happens to your anxiety when you ingest caffeine or sugar? Do you find your thoughts intrude and ruminate? Does your heart race or your body shake?
Caffeine and sugar can be helpful… in moderation. If you’re the type of person who has five coffees a day, cut back to three. If you’re drinking sweet tea throughout the day, don’t drink it before lunch and stop drinking it after dinner. Sweets are delicious, but limiting them can help you enjoy them more. Reducing your sugar and caffeine intake to help with dealing with anxiety.
Amy’s Real Life Experience: Quitting these two are no fucking joke. I’m currently in the process of letting go of caffeine and keeping my sugar to a minimum. And I basically don't achieve it every single day. That being said, I’m noticing that I am reducing the amount I would otherwise consume. This is a lifetime process, we’re managing anxiety FOREVER. Know that this isn’t an all or nothing situation that will come to a conclusion. You gotta remind yourself each and every day.
3. CLEAN YOUR HOUSE
“How is cleaning going to help my anxiety?” You might be saying. Think of it this way. When your stuff is strewn about, your house needs to be swept, and the dishes overflow the sink, how do you feel? The grime on your feet from the floor makes it feel dirty, the dishes feel overwhelming, and the stuff strewn about feels cluttered not only in your physical world but in your mental space too.
A decluttered space will help you keep a decluttered mind. Our environment affects our anxiety. So if your home is affecting your anxiety, you can do something about us. Declutter, keep it clean, and even rearrange! Why not love the space you’re in? It’s sure to help you in dealing with anxiety!
Amy’s Real Life Experience: I view this as an open-eye meditation. I do my best not to watch TV or listen to podcasts during this time. It’s just me, my vacuum, and Lysol wipes, baby. And it feels so good.
Writing can help you in dealing with anxiety. “That’s not an impactful hack!” But is it not?
There are several ways you can write:
- Free write. Write whatever comes to your mind. Your worries, your venting, gibberish, whatever. It doesn’t matter if you or anyone else can understand it.
- Journal. Journaling can happen in many ways. You can journal your day, your feelings and fears, or use a guided journal. Let it all out and scream on paper. Journaling can give you a great coping mechanism.
- Making lists. Lists can help when dealing with anxiety. You can list what you’re worried about, scared of, need to do for the day, what you love, and much, much more. Lists help you empty out your brain so you don’t ruminate.
- Write something imaginary. Fiction can help you make more sense of your world or help you escape it.
As you see, writing can be impactful. It just depends on how impactful you let yourself make it.
Amy’s Real Life Experience: Writing has always been the way I have moved through my overwhelming feelings. From a young age, I was dealing with a lot going inside my head. Stuff that I thought other people also dealt with, and the fact I was struggling meant that I wasn’t good enough as everyone else. My writing allowed me to become who I am today because it allowed me to process and see how I would describe what I am going through. And wow, that shit is insightful.
5. FACE YOUR FEARS
You think I’m insane now, don’t you? The truth is that this exercise can help dramatically.
You feed your anxiety with avoidance. Your anxiety makes you feel in control. It makes you think that you dodged a bullet by overthinking the hypothetical situation and over-planning instead of actually facing it.
So instead of avoiding the anxiety-inducing situation, try something else. Face your fears. When you start, it doesn’t have to be for very long. Start with just 5 minutes. Once you can do 5 minutes without any problems, extend your time. You will slowly desensitize your body and anxiety to the situation and it’ll be easier to bear.
Amy’s Real Life Experience: Exposure therapy is a thing. You hear about it with people who have agoraphobia (fear of big open spaces). I myself am terrified of flying. In fairness, I definitely think it’s because I watched Hooked 15 million times before the age of 12, and that I had two near-death (or at least how I view it) experiences on airplanes. Oh, and all the planes falling out of the sky sort of thing. I’ve had this fear for 10 years, and guess what? I’ve probably been on over 500 planes, no exaggeration. The thing is, the plane was the vehicle that got me to the experiences I wanted. I had to choose. Would I let fear decide what part of the world I got to see or not? I didn't let it stop me. That being said, I still suffer anxiety attacks ¾ of the time I go on a plane. I regularly think I won’t make it to the end. But, again, it’s just not as bad as before, and that’s something for me to be proud of.
No one ever said this was easy, but learning to manage your anxiety is always worth it.
These were 5 impactful hacks for dealing with anxiety. Want more? Follow The Empathy Front on TikTok!