The biggest perk of being in a large community is the tremendous wealth of resources in the form of life experience we all bring to the table. We recently asked our Facebook group to share some advice about managing anxiety, particularly during the pandemic. As always, our community responded with thoughtful, smart, and practical suggestions. The following is a sample of the responses we received:
Question Your Thoughts
As one anxiety sister said, “Your anxious brain will lie to you.” So, you have to be able to recognize and question your perceptions. Another anxiety sister confirmed this by pointing out that thinking you know the outcome of a situation or the motivation of another person does not make it true. As we love to say to each other and anyone else who will listen, “Thoughts are not facts!”
Talk to Yourself
It seems as though we are not the only people who spend a good amount of time talking to ourselves. Many anxiety sisters, it turns out, are big believers in using mantras, prayer, and affirmations to get them through anxious times. Some of the phrases that came up over and over were “I am safe,” “I am okay,” “Keep breathing,” and “This will pass.” Remember that your brain will listen to your own voice above all others so don’t be afraid to soothe yourself out loud. Luckily, with everyone being on wireless phones all the time, nobody thinks anything of people talking to themselves!
An excellent way to manage anxiety (particularly GAD) is distraction. So many anxiety sisters wrote in that they are helped by hobbies such as crafting, coloring, gardening, cooking, painting, etc.). We heard many times that keeping your hands busy is one way to prevent “busy” mind (getting stuck in anxious thoughts). We couldn’t agree with this more—Abs loves to color and Mags loves needlework—and we both carry crafts in our Spin Kits.
Many people commented on the healing power of music. Some folks play instruments like the piano or guitar. Others love to listen to music to soothe themselves; quite a few mentioned their own calming playlists. And lots of anxiety sisters sing. One woman, when she’s feeling anxious, sings “Let it Go” from Frozen (a great movie and an even better mantra). Another belts out theme songs from The Jetsons and other old tv shows. Abs has been known to hum the entire Millennium album from the Backstreet Boys when the going gets rough.
Research confirms what a lot of our anxiety sisters wrote us: nature and movement are powerful anxiety soothers. Lots of members of our community brought up the importance of spending time outside. Just breathing the fresh air can do a lot to calm down a revved up nervous system.
We got so much feedback about the importance of getting enough rest/sleep. In fact, several anxiety sisters even changed jobs in order to have better sleep habits. Napping is a big anxiety soother in our community—even five to ten-minute cat naps seem to help. A few folks told us they cut back on sugar and caffeine, especially later in the day, in order to make falling asleep easier.
Breathe and/or Meditate
No surprises here. Lots of anxiety sisters rely on breathwork and/or meditation practices to alleviate anxiety. One anxiety sister commented that “Long, slow, deep breaths are free and can be done anywhere.” Another said, “Calm breaths lead to a calm brain.” Others raved about the benefits of meditation, which we 100% encourage. Life changing for both of us!
As one anxiety sister stated, “It is hard to be anxious and grateful at the same time.” Another anxiety sister has made it a practice to tell a friend one thing she is grateful for every day. Several anxiety sisters keep gratitude lists or journals to look at when anxiety is overwhelming them. In addition to practicing gratitude, many anxiety sisters found that volunteering or doing for others helps them feel less anxious.
Tickle Your Funnybone
According to our community, laughter is indeed the best medicine. We heard stories about watching favorite sitcoms like Friends and The Office as well as viewing funny videos on YouTube. One anxiety sister repeats lines from the movie Young Frankenstein when her anxiety starts to take over. Another calls her friend who “is so hilarious she can make anyone laugh at any time.”
Be Kind to Yourself
Last but certainly not least, several anxiety sisters commented that it is important to be good to yourself. Many talked about the importance of taking time for ourselves and treating ourselves as well as we treat other people. One person gave the advice “Live a gentle life” and we could not agree more!
We know we left so many wonderful tips out so please feel free to share your own ideas with the sisterhood. Remember, you are an excellent resource for every other member of our community.