My high school chorus teacher did this thing for every graduating class where he would give each individual senior a piece of personalized advice. He told me not to sweat the small stuff. And you know what, I instantly questioned what he was talking about. Did I worry too much?
Yup, that’s right. I worried about worrying too much.
What’s interesting about this advice is it has followed me all through my adult life. It haunts me in my writing and peeks up in my personal life. I can worry with the best of them. But the older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized that spending my entire life worried forces me to miss out the business of living. I’m, by no means, an expert but here are a few things that work for me:
- Talk to someone- Talk to your significant other, your best friend, that person you met picking up the same book as you at the bookstore. The longer you let your worry bounce around in your head, the more it is going to consume you and you don’t deserve that.
- Find something to distract you- Whether this be that tv program that’s been filling up your DVR or a new book or a fun role-playing game with a group of friends, find something that you can dive into to forget about your worries for a little while. Chances are, when you come back into your own head, you’ll have calmed down enough to see that there are ways around the issues you’re having.
- Take a few deep breaths- I’m not talking about sucking in air. I’m talking about closing your eyes, relaxing your hands and focusing on inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly. Make those breaths count. In fact, while I’m doing this, I actually feel calmer by counting those breaths. Twelve usually does the trick for me.
- Make a list- If you’re a visual learner like me and you like to check things off a to-do list, sit down with a pen and paper or in front of a keyboard and write out what is bothering you and how you can fix it. You’ll find purpose in it and hopefully that will help your worry.
- Do research- If you’re worrying about something because you don’t understand it, get online and do some good old fashioned snooping. If you’re worrying about starting a new job, try to find site that detail what it is you’ll be doing. The only time I’d recommend skipping this step is if you’re worried about a medical condition. WebMD will always tell you that you have cancer but the likelihood of that is you don’t.
- Write- This one seems pretty personalized because it is. I use writing to address the things I’m scared of, explore places I could never go and put characters in situations that oftentimes amplify what I’m going through in real life. Try to find a way to work through what you’re going through, either by throwing yourself into writing a story, keeping a journal, painting an art piece, etc. Find something where you can safely face your fears.
This is not the article I intended to write today. I had several other ideas warring in my head but this is the one that was asking to be written. I hate my anxiety, I hate the constant crippling fear of worry. But I’m also learning to cope with it.
Do you have any tips or tricks that help you deal with anxiety?