Disclaimer: This article contains advice from a person who suffers from anxiety. In this article, he tells you what he has done in his life that helps him when he feels overwhelmed by his anxiety. If you find it helpful, please try it out. However, remember, the best thing to do if you are suffering from anxiety is to seek professional help.
There are always going to be some bad times. There are times when you feel like there is no one that can help you. There are times when you feel that you're without hope.
In my experience, anxiety is the type of condition that can, at times, feel so overwhelming that you're convinced that you'll never be able to live a happy life or live the life that you've always wanted. I have felt this way.
But the truth is that anxiety itself is what causes this feeling. Anxiety can make you life feel like you are without hope. You can find relief, but the only way to find that relief is to commit to the idea that you can get help for your anxiety. The way that I looked at it, when I felt like it was too much, was that I had only two options:
- Do nothing, and live with my anxiety forever.
- Commit to change and start on your way to recovery.
The reality is that it really is possible to get relief from anxiety. If nothing else, you can take medications. But anxiety isn't the type of issue that can be cured overnight. It can take months, not just a few days, and with some of the treatments you will have to put in time and work.
But I Need Help Now!
Suppose you have started a mindfulness training or a course of cognitive behavioral therapy, but that you feel like you need help right away because you are overwhelmed by the anxiety you are experiencing. There are definitely things you can do. If you feel, right this moment, that your anxiety is too much to handle, you can try the following:
Your first step is to do anything you can to stop your anxiety right now, at the moment. For this, one of the best things you can do is find yourself an immediate, complete distraction. Try taking a walk, or doing something that you love doing.
Exhaust Yourself Physically
Physical exhaustion can make your mind tired as well, so you can try to exhaust yourself physically. Go out for a very fast run, and when you get tired, wait until you regained some of your strength and ran again. Tire out your body so thoroughly that you can't even think about your worries. Not fond of running? Find other strategies instead. You can punch a punching bag or yell as loudly as possible as long as possible. Do all of them if you need to. Make it hard for yourself to even think about your anxiety anymore since you're so tired that you've got nothing left.
Write Out Your Anxieties
Anxiety sometimes causes thoughts to roll out of control. Sometimes those thoughts aren't even anxiety related. Write them all out. Write down everything in your head, and every thought that comes up. Once it's out of your head, you should find yourself thinking about it less.
Accepting and Creating a Plan
Finally, when it feels hopeless right now, you need to give yourself an opportunity to stop focusing on how you feel right now, and get ready for how it's going to improve in the future. There are two parts to this. The first step is taking a step back and telling yourself that it's okay for you to have anxiety. You need to accept it instead of trying to fight it, because acceptance is the most critical tool for believing you can overcome it.
Then you need to have a long-term plan for the future, with the things you're going to do to find relief. Are you going to see a therapist? Are you going to ask your doctor about medications? Are you planning on exercising? Are you going to look for a new job, or find any new friends? What if you still suffer from anxiety - what changes will you make? Decide on what you're going to do and plan it out for the long term - not just days, not just weeks, but months and even years. Having that plan ensures that you're focused on your future so that what you deal with in the present becomes less important.
Remember, if you honestly believe that your life right now is too much, then planning for just one or two years down the road isn't even that much of commitment. If you can find a way to make peace with your anxiety in the next 1 to 5 years, then you'll still have decades and decades of a great life ahead. And don't worry - most treatments will work at least to some degree in a much shorter time than that.
Learning to Cope in the Long Run
Ultimately, the most important thing you can do to learn how to cope with your anxiety is to make a long term commitment to trying the therapeutic techniques that are known to help people live with and reduce their anxiety. All of them are mentioned elsewhere on this website, but here is a list of them for now:
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
- Mindfulness Training
- Thought Journaling
- Extinction Therapy