5 Tips for Living with Anxiety: the last one



A quick look back…

This whole project started with a question about how to live with stress. Anxiety is a part of life and so what do we do about it. I tried to capture some thoughts and ideas, but this isn’t a complete solution. If I can be of help, please reach out.

Click here to read the last piece

Click here to start at the beginning

Plan your stress

This may sound quite odd, but a very helpful tactic to deal with anxiety can be to put it in your calendar. Find a time when you can spend 10 minutes (or longer as you choose - but not too long) to be stressed and allow yourself to have those anxious feelings. Our minds love routine. We crave the regularity and predicability that routine provides. Just think about it. Even unpleasant things are easier to accomplish when we know that they have a time and place. Like going to the dentist’s office. No offense meant to any dentists out there, but - you know. So, like I was saying, the dentist; it’s easier to make yourself do something unpleasant that you know will benefit you if you can put it on the calendar. Then it is an appointment with a set start time, but also a set ending time. It will only last so long. And then, once it’s over, you won’t have to worry or think about that looming root canal any longer.

Having a set time that you eat meals and snacks helps you keep your hunger managed, right? Your body normally grows hungry every day, this is no surprise. Anxiety and worry are a part of normal life. It’s a way for our brains to consider dangers in our lives and consider ways to avoid or prevent them. It’s a really useful survival skill, just not always pleasant. So, just like we aren’t surprised when we get hungry we shouldn’t be taken off guard when we have anxious thoughts. But just like we manage hunger by planning ahead for it, we can also plan ahead for stress and give it space. We will sit for a few minutes and think about all of the “what if” and “what about” scenarios and then our brain can rest knowing that it has dwelt on the difficult. That mental root canal is now out of your hair - at least for now. Unlike a root canal, worry and stress will happen more than once - I mean, unless you have some pretty unfortunate dental luck.

Part of this is us trying to outsmart our brains. Our brains love completing things. We have a very sophisticated reward system in our brains that makes us feel all warm and fuzzy when we finish a thing. So, if we make a time for something, and then we do that thing we close the loop and the cycle is complete. Our brains are happy that we accomplished what we set out to do and we have now done a thing. Be proud of yourself, you accomplisher of accomplishments!

This is the end of the blog bits on living with anxiety. Next up…something else.