By Mia Sherin, December 11, 2020
Over the past few years, I felt like I was becoming an anxious person. I was overthinking everything, having trouble falling asleep, and letting small thoughts turn into bigger anxieties and worries. With the stressfulness that 2020 brought, I finally decided that it was time for me to see a therapist and seek help with my anxiety.
Not only have I loved having someone to talk and open up to each week, but my therapist has given me incredibly helpful tools to turn to when I’m feeling anxious, and today, I’d love to share those tools with all of you. I am by no means an expert on mental health, and everyone has different needs. But these are just a few habits that helped me break my anxiety, or stop it in its tracks.
- “Change the channel”
Anxiety can manifest if you get stuck on a negative or unproductive thought. While sometimes a little anxiety or anticipation, let’s say about an upcoming exam or assignment, can be helpful in motivating you to perform well, there is also anxiety or negative thinking patterns that are unhelpful. For me, this might appear after taking a test, and worrying about a specific question that I might have answered wrong. Or I notice that if I’m feeling self-conscious one day, it will be hard for me to focus on other things.
This is where “change the channel” comes in. Visualize your thoughts like a TV screen, and you have the power to hold the remote. When you get into toxic thoughts, say outloud or in your head that you need to “change the channel”, and move onto other thoughts. Force yourself to refocus on more productive and positive ideas.
- Name your feelings
However, there are some cases when you might not want to “change the channel.” If you are feeling sad, or nervous, or angry, sometimes the most effective thing you can do is give yourself space to feel these feelings, but make sure to acknowledge them. Maybe you’re feeling sad, and the best thing you can do for yourself is to watch a sad movie and let yourself cry. But name your feelings, or notice how you are feeling, so you can find a way to move past it when you are ready.
- Set aside time for self-care
I often find that I feel more overwhelmed and anxious when I forget to set aside time for myself. Even if it’s finals week, and you feel like you don’t have a spare minute, self-care is an important tool in defeating anxiety. Whether that be getting your favorite Starbucks drink, painting your nails while watching Netflix, or doing a fun workout, giving yourself something to look forward to each day is crucial. And it will give you a moment to reset, refocus, and think clearly.
I hope that with these straightforward tips, you can work to manage your anxiety during this crazy time. But if your anxiety is getting the best of you, consider seeing a therapist, and reach out to friends and family around you for support.