Robin Farr, 5 Minutes for Mom contributor, shares her insight into how to cope with anxiety. This post is compensated but her opinions are her own.
I’ve dealt with anxiety in various forms for years, but it took me a long time to identify what it was. I used to think it was stress, which isn’t really the same thing (in that stress is a response to daily pressures and anxiety is a fear-based response that often has less concrete causes). “I’m a giant ball of stress,” I would think, picturing myself as one of those balls made from elastics, stretched taut and ready to snap.
It wasn’t until I had a baby and experienced some postpartum anxiety that I started to understand what anxiety is, what my experience of it is, and how to cope with it.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite ways to cope with anxiety:
- Do whatever constitutes self-care for you. For me that can be zoning out in front of the TV, reading a book, or just scrolling through Facebook.
- Think about what’s making you anxious. If it’s something you can control, take action, even if that’s just making a list. If it’s not something you can control, try to just let it be. Acceptance is hard to attain but it can be a powerful way to combat anxiety.
- Moving your body helps, especially if you get that jittery feeling from anxiety. Get some exercise if you can but any type of movement helps, so go for a walk, swing your arms, or jump up and down.
- Count things. It doesn’t really matter what – tiles on your bathroom floor, books on a bookshelf or dishes in your cupboard. Counting will provide something for your brain to focus on other than your anxiety.
- Clean. This is a common strategy, I think, and it certainly works for me. Especially vacuuming, which is my favorite anxiety-calming activity (followed closely by doing dishes).
- Hold your hand under cold running water. Something about the physical sensation can help calm you down.
- Do some yoga. Or deep breathing. Or just sit with your eyes closed and try to regulate your breathing – equal-length breaths in and out.
- Write down your feelings. This is a great way to work through anxiety and help make the source of your feelings more clear.
- Call a friend. Talk about your anxious feelings if that will help, or talk about something entirely different if you need a distraction.
This is just the beginning of a list of ways to cope with anxiety, but these are the strategies that have worked best for me. The key for me is to identify the anxiety and name it, and then I can choose whatever strategy is most helpful in that moment. It gives me a feeling of control, and a lot of times that’s a big step towards feeling better.
Women today are fading. In a female culture built on Photoshopped perfection and Pinterest fantasies, we’ve lost the ability to dream our own big dreams. So busy trying to do it all and have it all, we’ve missed the life we were really designed for. And we are paying the price. The rise of loneliness, depression, and anxiety among the female population in Western cultures is at an all-time high. Overall, women are two and a half times more likely to take antidepressants than men. What is it about our culture, the expectations, and our way of life that is breaking women down in unprecedented ways?
In this vulnerable memoir of transformation, Rebekah Lyons shares her journey from Atlanta, Georgia, to the heart of Manhattan, where she found herself blindsided by crippling depression and anxiety. Overwhelmed by the pressure to be domestically efficient, professionally astute, and physically attractive, Rebekah finally realized that freedom can come only by facing our greatest fears and fully surrendering to God’s call on our lives. This book is an invitation for all women to take that first step toward freedom. For it is only when we free-fall that we can truly fly.
Robin Farr is a woman, a writer, a wife, a runner, and a mom – chronologically, at least. She got mixed up philosophically during her struggle with postpartum depression but wrote her way out of it on her blog, Farewell, Stranger. The perspective she gained from that experience led her to a new motto: “Live the life you’re meant to.” She’s now working on doing just that.