Having anxiety can be a challenge for many people most days. By no means am I an expert or a therapist, but after being in therapy and learning a lot of great tools along the way that has helped with my anxiety, I want to share them. I know that not everyone has the means to afford therapy or spend a lot of money on mental health. I want to share 7 things and habits that I have that are free for everyone that work for me. Since the end of 2020, I’ve been doing all of these things every day and all of these things have helped me manage my anxiety.
1. Avoid drinking caffeine
a. Since November of 2020, I’ve stopped drinking coffee. There have been studies that show that caffeine can increase one’s anxiety, so I stopped drinking it. The way I did it was by weaning myself off of it. I went from drinking black coffee to drinking decaf coffee, and now I drink decaf tea and I have one Dr. Pepper a day (maybe 2 if there’s a reason to celebrate). However, the amount of caffeine in Dr. Pepper is super minimal and it doesn’t impact my anxiety.
2. Journal to myself every single day
a. This is the thing that helps me manage my anxiety the most. I am an overthinker and there are millions of thoughts that race my mind throughout the day. At the end of the day, right before I start my bedtime routine, I take about 30 minutes to an hour to journal. I type it all in letters to my future self on my laptop. Sometimes the entries are half a page long, sometimes they’re 4-5 pages long. It all depends on how I am feeling and what I am thinking about. Regardless of the length of the entry, every entry does wonders because I am getting things off of my chest. It helps me channel my thoughts and sometimes even allows me to see things from a different perspective and helps me grow A LOT. I strongly recommend doing this!
a. Right before I go to bed, I meditate for 10-20 minutes. It gets my mind off of social media and sends good vibes throughout my body. There are so many fun and free meditation apps. My favorites are “Insight Timer” and “Ease-Day”. Ease Day is great if you suffer from headaches or any physical symptoms related to your anxiety.
4. Drink LOTS of Water
a. I want to make this clear. Drinking water doesn’t CURE my anxiety. It helps manage the physical symptoms aspect of my anxiety and eases those symptoms a little bit.
b. I used to be terrible at drinking water. I remember having conversations with my friends who only drink water and them claiming how amazing it is, and me thinking the exact opposite. Well, I’ve grown and changed since then and now I am drinking water all of the time. One thing that I’ve realized is that it has helped me with my anxiety. I don’t know why, but it does help.
a. I never understood why people loved working out. All until my therapist recommended it to me one day as a way to help reduce my anxiety. Since I’ve started working out, it has helped my anxiety so much. It has become my little escape from my world. I don’t have a ton of fancy equipment, I literally have 2 5 pound weights, some resistance bands, and a yoga mat. I am not working out to get in shape. I literally do it, as a way to get off my phone and disconnect from reality. Doing this has helped me so much, and I’ve noticed a difference in my everyday life. On the days when I am resting, I am stretching and still moving my body. I am still a beginner in every aspect of the imagination. My tips for people just getting into it. Make a schedule, stick to it, and there’s a ton of great videos on YouTube that help out!
6. Set boundaries
a. It’s nice to be so committed to something whether it’s a project or a career path, but life is all about balance. You can’t be doing one thing all of the time or else you will burn out. I experienced burn out when I was a camp counselor. That happened because all I would do is think about my job even when I wasn’t at work. If there was a problem that happened, I would think about at all hours of the night and that’s just not healthy. Take some time out of your days to debrief and escape. Set a boundary and limit of when you will stop doing work. I have my own, but it’s different for everyone. Also, this applies to everyone and everything. People who are well into their careers and to the people who are freshmen in college. Never setting those limits and boundaries will lead to an increase in anxiety and in a way where it is secretive. At least that’s what happened to me, and I don’t want to live my life like that.
7. I am kind to myself.
a. Anxiety can make our minds think a lot of things and some of those things can be mean thoughts. For me, my anxiety tends to make me overly critical of myself and I become my harshest critic about everything that I say and have been through. When I get like this, I go down this rabbit hole. Then I remind myself of when everything happened, how I’ve grown from those experiences, and how different I am now. If it’s not me dwelling on something that has happened in the past and it’s me struggling with a certain emotion, I tend to get frustrated with myself. I remind myself that it is okay to feel however I feel and to move forward. I am gentle with myself in those situations. If you have anxiety and it leads you to tend to being your own harshest critic, I want to remind you that you need to be kind to yourself. Feelings are feelings and we can’t always control how we feel about something.
These are habits that I have developed over the past few months. I still have bad days with my anxiety, but these habits help so much. Both in the moment and afterwards. Now I need to make this ABUDANTLY clear. I am not a therapist or a professional in the field. Don’t take these things as a professional medical opinion. Everyone’s anxiety is different. For me, mine reveals itself through physical symptoms. Others may just get sweaty hands or just feel anxious. Everyone has different ways to reduce anxiety, when possible I like to go on hikes and listen to music. (It’s cold in the Northeast, so it’s hard to do that in the winter/late fall.) Other people may draw, bake, listen to music, or cook. Everyone does it different and it is okay. I am just sharing what works for me in case there’s someone that wants to try something new.