How I Deal with Anxiety

It seems my post yesterday about anxiety resonated with a lot of people, so I figured I’d write a little bit more about the things that help me deal with it. I wish I could say I had a cure, but if I did, my blog’s tagline wouldn’t be “miserable person learning to be happy”. However, I do feel very lucky that I have been able to find things that help me manage my condition – I hope they work for you too!
  1. Having a positive mindset. When I’m having an anxiety attack, I can go into a downward spiral where my anxiety makes me more anxious! It goes something like: “I’m so anxious I can’t get this assignment done”  => “I can’t work because I’m so anxious” => “I’m so anxious that my anxiety is preventing me from getting this assignment done”. The only way out of the spiral is to calm myself down, which writing positive things really helps. In fact, that was why I wrote yesterday’s gratitude post about anxiety – I figured it would help me stop freaking out about work. And while it wasn’t a cure, it certainly did help.
  2. Surrounding myself with positive people. Positive people help SO MUCH. I’d almost say they help not by what they say, but what they don’t say. My team at work is split between 2 offices, and the difference between them is night and day. One office has very very good engineers who I respect a lot… but they’re also very negative. I’ve never met people who complain so much. The other office has good engineers who don’t always write the best code, but they’re also very friendly and positive. Even though I admire the engineers in the negative office… I feel 100% better when I work out of the positive office, even though the commute is 1.5 hours one way. Something about the negativity triggers my anxiety. Tradeoffs, I guess?¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  3. Taking a step back. When I am having an anxiety attack, it helps me to step back and think, “What is some evidence that makes my anxiety justified right now?” Then, I ask myself the converse – “What is some evidence that makes my anxiety not justified right now?” Usually, I’ll be able to come up with a long list of reasons the anxiety isn’t realistic – for example, if I’m having an attack over not feeling like I’m working hard enough, I’ll remind myself that my boss gave me a good review the past quarter.
  4. Taking a hot shower. I don’t know what it is, but taking a hot shower really helps me unwind better than anything else. When I’m having a bad day, I can take 3 showers – not the best for my skin or the utility bill, but it makes me feel better.
  5. Avoiding sugar and caffeine. This one is hard, because anxiety does trigger disordered eating for me… which always involves sugar and caffeine. 😛 To be honest, I’ve always been a ‘stress eater’, so I rarely succeed on this tip myself – but I’m working on it.

For those of you with anxiety – what works for you?

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