As someone who’s had generalized anxiety since high school, I’ve often grappled with pangs of regret, worry, fear, and find myself imagining the absolute worst-case scenario. Some days are so paralyzing, I am absolutely convinced I’ll get the call that someone in my family has passed away, or that my house burned down because I left the curling iron on, or that I lost my job (oh wait, that actually did happen, lol). I’ve dealt with panic attacks, which feel like my heart and lungs tightening at the same time, making breathing not-so-optimal. And although I’ve used several mechanisms to decrease their severity, they still happen from time to time, especially lately.
If you’re experiencing a lot of anxiety lately, you’re not alone. You are surviving a global pandemic and economic clusterf*ck — it’s not realistic to feel like you have to keep going at a normal pace, or that your mental health won’t be impacted. It probably will and you need to accept that and be kind to yourself (which is easier said than done, trust me; I’m still trying to follow my own advice I give on TFD).
The next time you’re experiencing an avalanche of anxiety, here are some quick reminders that may help alleviate the panic (these usually work for me.)
1. You probably heard it before, but it’s true: This is only temporary. These feelings won’t last forever.
2. You’re allowed to take things day by day (or hour by hour if you need). Nobody is setting a timer on your processing of emotions.
3. You’ve gotten through hard situations before, and you’ll do it again.
4. Worrying about what might happen won’t actually change the outcome.
5. Focus on what you *can* do, but also know there’s a lot that’s out of your control – and that’s not your fault. Ask yourself, “Did I do everything in my power? Did I do my best?” If you said yes to both, you need to know when to walk away.
6. It helps to write down all the things you’re stressed about. Seeing it on paper can help put things in perspective and writing in general can be therapeutic. Sometimes even writing down solutions to your problems help immensely. Think of it as problem-solving homework for your brain.
7. If you prefer to talk, talk it out! If you don’t have a therapist, you should feel encouraged to sort out your feelings to a friend or partner.
8. You’re also allowed to keep things to yourself and work problems out solo. It’s your journey, and nobody else.
9. If you need prescribed medication to help cope, that is okay. That’s between you and your doctor.
10. If other people give you their opinions on how you should handle your anxiety, remember — they’re just opinions.
11. Most likely, you’ve built up a far worse scenario than what’s real. (That’s been the case for me 9/10 times. 2020 has been the exception.)
12. It’s okay to take a break from the internet — in fact, that distancing is probably what you need right now.
13. Maybe meditation and yoga help, maybe screaming into a pillow feels better — you know your body and coping mechanisms best.
14. You might be caught in the trap of “all or nothing” thinking, also known as “catastrophizing,” but know that the reality rarely is all or nothing — it’s somewhere in between because life is not perfect. It has ebbs and flows.
15. Almost everyone gets anxious. You’re not alone.
16. You’ll feel happy again. You will. It feels impossible now, but now is just a tiny little moment in the grand scheme of things.
17. You’re allowed to eat that ice cream and not feel guilty about it. Your body needs nourishment and it’s fine to balance health with indulgence.
18. You are not your circumstances, your fears, your past, or your future. Doing your best is literally all you can do.
Gina Vaynshteyn is an editor and writer who lives in LA. You can find more of her words on Refinery29, Apartment Therapy, HelloGiggles, Distractify, and others. If you wanna, you can follow her on Instagram or Twitter.
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