You’ve heard about “life hacks” right? For those outside the loop, they are the life tips and tricks other people have found help them cope with, or in some cases eliminate, the stresses of life. “Hacks” can range from things that old Heloise previously hinted (ex: you can use a slice of bread to clean up teensy tiny pieces of broken glass) to things that may help with your mental state (ex: give yourself permission to do nothing).
I have been thinking a lot about the latter type of hack, the ones to help center yourself. In case you didn’t know, I suffer from the occasional anxiety related episode. In fact, since 2010 anxiety and anxiety related disorders have been on the rise among women. I don’t want to bore you with what a simple interweb search of “women and anxiety” can do a better job of explaining. Read up on it, it is one way to better understand the people around you.
I have found that on good days, I can identify the trigger that will cause me to spiral out of control on an anxiety fueled freak out. On other days, you just get hit out of the blue. On the good days, it is recommended that you have some tools handy for dealing with anxiety/panic attacks.
5 Hacks That May Help With Anxiety
First, if you need to take meds to control your anxiety, be sure you take them regularly/as prescribed. I have a pill I take when things get really bad. Like can’t breathe, pounding headache, dry mouth, tears in the eyes bad. This miracle drug calms me down, but good luck getting me to be functional of the next four hours. I take it as I need it, and consider it a victory when I don’t. Second, I am not, nor do I claim to be a mental health professional. Please discuss any care routines you may need with one, does wonders.
Life Hack #1: Stop and Breathe.
I know what you are saying, but trust me it works. Anxiety is fueled by many different things, but if you take a break from thinking about those things, you can calm down. What do I mean by breathing? I mean the type of breathing where you close your eyes, and as you inhale and exhale you try to think ONLY about the breath moving through your body. It takes practice, it takes patience, but boy does it work.
Like Hack #2: Be Objective about the Trigger.
One of my triggers is large crowds. I don’t know the exact reason why, but a potential reason for this is I fear the unknown crazy person. Who in the crowd is having the kind of day where they just can’t take it anymore and is ready to rage? I made the mistake of looking at the size of the crowd at the 2015 Life is Beautiful festival and spent Duran Duran’s performance 500 feet away with my head between my knees sitting among a sea of standing strangers. Could this have been prevented if I had told my friend about this trigger and looked at the situation objectively? Maybe, maybe not; But doing nothing is not ideal. The best way that I found to get through this hack is to ask myself questions: Why is this bothering you? What gave you the impression that you are under threat? What is your plan to deal with this if it does happen? Do you need water?
Life Hack #3: Be Open about your Anxiety.
I know this one isn’t for everyone, but if you are comfortable talking about it, let those in your circle know. Let them know what you need from them if they are around you when you start to spiral. Sometimes they can pull you back, or just sit with you until you are ready to adult again.
Life Hack #4: Do Something That Makes You “Zen-Out” and/or Distracted.
So the other day, I came home for lunch and was in the middle of a spiral situation. I put on my running shoes and went for jog. Sure jogging releases endorphins, and endorphins reduce stress and elevate your mood, but it doesn’t have to be jogging. Not everyone can just walk out of a meeting and go run around the parking lot (and if you can, are you hiring?). I like jogging as a hack because I hate cardio. I hate cardio so much that the act of willing myself to finish this stupid run gives me something else to focus on rather than my need to curl up in a ball on the floor. Exercise may not be an option if your heart rate is already out of control. If you knit, knit. If you write, journal. Again, I am not a mental health professional, consult one for better hacks.
Life Hack #5: Repeat After Me: It Will Eventually Be Ok.
Have a mantra, a mindfulness exercise, or a list of affirmations ready to go. Scroll through them, breathe them. Remind yourself that you are surviving this, that you are loved and that you will be ok. It will seem very bleak in the moment, but tell yourself you can come back to it when you are in a better state. You will come back to it, deal with it, and move on. Like you have in the past and like you will keep doing in the future.
You have any tips to share? Leave em in the comments or the facebook page.
This was a lot, and even though this whole post was about Things Keeping Me Sane, here is a bonus item: Lately, Rescue by Yuna has been a song getting a lot of play on my “Love Yourself” playlist. With lyrics like the below, it is the perfect song to reward yourself for overcoming the things that try and keep you down. Also the video is just so bright and cheery and it reminds me that I can live my best life.
Things were bad. She was in despair. Things were bad and you were never there, but things were bad, she came up for air. She said a little prayer, she found herself. Yeah she’s got light in her face, she don’t need no rescuing she’s okay. (Rescue by Yuna).