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I’ve struggled with anxiety my entire life.

When I was a kid it would culminate in far too frequent panic attacks. If you’re not familiar, imagine being taken over by the most extreme, most illogical, most urgent feeling of terror so consuming that you truly believe you are in danger of immanent death or you have done something so horrifying that it can never be taken back. Your body becomes frozen and you lose temporary control over your mind, you mumble irrational things, you see things that aren’t there, like the walls closing in or the ceiling spinning down on you. At least this was what it was like for me.

Anxiety used to be a near constant companion, but nowadays it comes and goes. Sometimes there’s a definite trigger and sometimes not so much which is when I’m probably tapping into the collective anxiety.

I had a lot of anxiety this week and last, some of it mine and some of it the collective. How do I know the difference? When it is collective, there is no clear trigger and/or there is a trigger but my body’s response is way out of proportion to the trigger.

Collective or your own, anxiety is not a pleasant sensation.

I used to cope in not so helpful ways. Alcohol worked wonders. Cigarettes were a distant second. And I admit I still turn to sugar when anxiety hits hard. These kinds of coping mechanisms have their place, I’m not here to judge, but the pragmatist in me prefers coping methods that work long term.

Sure, temporary distractions will take the edge off, but they’ll lead to other problems that –you guessed it — bring on more anxiety.

So, I put together a list of ways to cope with anxiety that lead you to feel better about yourself in the long term. This is mostly for me (LOL) but I thought I’d better share it in case someone else finds it helpful. Feel free to list your own coping tricks because I am always looking for more.

1. Clean things. Remember that episode of Young Sheldon when he’s really pissed off at his mom and goes on a cleaning rampage? It also works for anxiety. And you’ve got a clean house at the end.

2. Organize things. This is a similar strategy, but you don’t have to go on a rampage. Pick a little nook, like your desk or a section in the garage. You can distract yourself from anxiety and feel good when you see the end result. You might even buy some cute bins (but don’t go crazy because spending money can be another one of those not so helpful coping strategies when it gets out of hand.)

3. Meditate. This is more of a long-term strategy that may not work if your monkey mind hasn’t been practicing. I do it at least five days a week because the more I learn how to be mindful, the less time I spend in mad rumination mode.

4.Yoga. Yoga, unlike any other form of movement, helps me take deep satisfying belly breaths. I love this. And they say breath work is good for anxiety.

5. Breath work. I really like to do Tummo breathing when I’m in anxiety. This is the one I’ve been doing lately.

6. Exercise. This is a powerful strategy when you have anxiety. You might not want to do it at first, but I guarantee you’ll feel better after.

7. Running. Sometimes I am so filled with anxiety that my body just wants to run away. So, I do, wearing Nikes.

8. Napping. Sometimes I’m so fucking tired. And the fact that I’m so tired makes my grumpy and impatient which causes me anxiety because I am grumpy and impatient while momming which makes me feel terrible. I nap to prevent this kind of anxiety.

9. Nature. There is something about being in the woods or even working in my garden. It puts my heart into perspective like almost nothing else. I need to do this more.

10. Naming that emotion. You may have heard that anxiety is a cover emotion. This means that it is usually hiding some other kind of emotional discomfort underneath. All you have to do when you are feeling anxious is pause and search for the emotion you are feeling. For me it is often fear or shame. I don’t know why but naming it often defuses it. Magic.

11. Identifying downstream thoughts. This is one of my favorite coaching techniques I use on myself almost every day. Read The Astonishing Power of Emotions by Esther and Jerry Hicks or you can hire me to help you.

12. Do Morning Pages. This involves getting up early when it is quiet and free writing nonstop for three pages. My stream of consciousness writing often ends up being a conversation with God or some other form of self-coaching, but it always ends in a feeling of peace.

13. Read or watch TV. Escape into a good story. Enough said. Please choose high vibration content or your escapism is going to lead you back into anxiety real quick.

14. Take vitamins. Seriously. These help.

15. Snuggle animals. I love to cuddle my sweet creatures. If you don’t have any animals, consider getting one. Cats are less work. Puppies are cute but it takes a special person. I have a dog and two cats, a bunny, chickens and even the Koi in my pond are like emotional support animals to me.

16. Do something of service. One of my favorite quotes came from the Ricky Gervais special on Netflix called Afterlife. (Loved it!) I can’t remember how it went exactly but it was something like Happiness is so amazing that it doesn’t even matter if it’s yours. Can you make someone smile today? Works wonders.

17. Tennis. Okay this one is pretty specific. But it is a wonderful sport that requires complete concentration. Start ruminating and you will lose that point. Other forms of movement like this: Dance (Zumba is my fav) and Mountain biking (Ruminate and you will run into a tree.)

18. Gratitude. This is one of the best quick fix coping strategies. I like to name ten new things I’m grateful for. Take your time with this. Really feel into it. Another cool long-term strategy is getting yourself a 5 Minute Journal. Every night you take a few minutes to reflect on your day. Gratitude is part of the ritual along with other simple and powerful questions.

19. Doing something totally new. You will add some adventure to your life. You may learn something new. And you will feel good about yourself. Your life may become so interesting you don’t have time for anxiety.

20. Hot Water. Sometimes I like showers better than baths because you can let the water run over you and poor down the drain. I like to do this after social interactions because I am such an empath. I absorb energy, all of it. So, I take a shower to wash it off.

21. Talking to someone. Get it off your chest. If you don’t have a friend you can talk to, hire a coach.

22. Laughter. I don’t think it is physically possible to be fearful or ashamed while laughing hysterically. At least not for me. Highly recommend The Office, my current obsession. I’m watching the American version this time and loving it.

23.Taking CBD oil. I started taking this for a sleep disorder. It works for anxiety too.

24. Essential Oils. This one is so huge for me. There are a few oils I recommend, lavender, white fir, lemongrass, aromatouch blend. I own about eight diffusers!

25. Loving kindness. The other day I had a really painful interaction over social media with someone who used to be my friend. I did this meditation immediately and I (I shit you not) felt total peace afterwards: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d_AA9H4z9U

26. Use a planner. Someone once said that “people are like bicycles, if they aren’t moving forward, they fall down.” Planning helps me feel more excited about life and also less anxious that I’m not missing important dates. <– UPDATE I don’t use planners to plan anymore! I like to time block in Google cal. I still have a planner though. My favorite is through Writual Planner and it lets me record tarot card pull, intentions and gratitude among other things that raise my vibe.

27. Get up earlier. Lately I’ve been getting up a little earlier that usual to have some quiet time to myself. I usually want to stay in bed but I’m always grateful once I get up that I did it and, this way, I start my day feeling grateful and proud of myself instead of anxious.

28. Art. Get yourself a coloring book for adults. My favorite is specifically for watercolor. Doing art reminds me of the same vibe I get when I play tennis. I have to focus or I’ll paint outside the lines and this takes me out of my anxiety.

29. Channeling your anxious “part”. Remember this: You are not your anxiety. There is a part of you that is holding on to anxiety for a good reason and although it might feel unpleasant, you can be curious, not judgemental (quoting Ted Lasso). So step into your higher self who can observe this anxious part of you and journal some answers to these questions: What does the part of me that holds on to anxiety want me to know? What does it think it is doing to help by attaching to this anxiety? What is this part afraid might happen if it didn’t feel anxious? What does this anxious part want to do instead if it knew everything would be okay? If you can show your anxious part compassion and genuine curiosity and listen, you might be surprised at what you find out.

My mom used to call me a “neurotic.” I looked it up. It’s a term used to describe someone who shows signs of mental disturbances but does not indicate complete psychosis.

I guess, when I’m not having a panic attack, that would be a pretty good word to describe me. But if I wasn’t half crazy, I wouldn’t have been able to compile such a complete list of coping strategies for anxiety, right?

There is always a bright side.

So there you have it. These are my favorite coping tools for anxiety. I hope it helps. And for the other “neurotics” out there, knuckle bump. Please add your coping strategies to the comments section below.

Solidarity.

P.S. That is a picture of me in the gym after having organized the garage. My anxiety helps me get an amazing amount of stuff done!