Anxiety creeps up on you like an invisible beast, cutting off rational thought, normal body functions and altering your personality. It is one of the hardest things I have ever battled. The battle isn’t over for me and it probably wont ever be over for you either. That’s just something you are going to make your peace with.
I might be okay with labeling myself as anxious but I certainly don’t want to wake up every day and do nothing about it. We can’t make it go away but I can show you how to limit its effects on you. It does not have to define us.
Anxiety is NOT who you are.
Underneath all that worry, fear and panic is someone who has likes and dislikes, has dreams, has feelings. Anxiety tends to overpower a lot of your personality when it is left unchecked.
I talked before about how much control I gave my fears a few years ago. I have learned so much since then and I want to give you a few of the best coping mechanisms and tricks I have learned.
These are not your typical deep breathing, meditation, take a long shower kind of tricks. This is a guide for the busy mom who has kids running around at her feet. Just because fear is creeping in does not mean that you get to take a break from motherhood. So these are things you can do while you are doing laundry or driving to dance practice.
Build your happy place
This is one of my favorite techniques. You build a place that makes you happy and makes you feel safe. Every tiny detail. Each time you come back to your favorite place you slowly go through the parts you have already created and add more.
Here is an example
I build a perfect picnic with my family. I start with the blanket we are sitting on, add the food, the champagne my husband and I are drinking. Next I design my children’s outfits, including how their hair is styled. I think about what they would be doing. I design my own outfit, barefoot of course but I design the shoes that I have kicked off into the grass. Next is my husband with the hems of his jeans turned up, and a sweater vest (he would die if I made him wear one in real life).
This particular setting took me about a month to build. Once I got to the point that the setting was perfect in my mind I started to expand. I started to build the background of the field we were sitting in. The landscape in the distance. I added a story to the setting. I began to build a house on the property that we were vacationing in… The possibilities for expansion are endless.
A few more examples
Build a theme park.
Build the perfect closet.
Build your dream home.
Build an underwater castle.
Build a library.
Whatever interests you, build it. Make it beautiful, extravagant, perfect. Use your imagination to build a safe and happy place that you can retreat to. I know it sounds silly but when you focus your mind on the tiny little details of whatever you are making it helps to drive the fear out.
Count up and back down
This is a bit difficult to describe so bear with me. For this exercise you want to count your fingers up and back down. So in your head you say “one” and move your thumb, “two” and move your thumb then index finger, “three”, thumb, index finger, middle finger. Keep going until you feel reasonably calm. Then count back down. Some days you may only need to count to 10 and some days it might be 1000.
I love this technique because I can do it while I am driving. I can also do it when I am in a crowd and no one notices. The combination of mental and physical really helps to focus your mind on the task at hand instead of on your fears.
Choose a fear slogan
This is almost like a mantra. Choose something that will bring you a calmness as you say it. It could be a peaceful saying, a prayer, a piece of scripture, whatever you want it to be. It needs to be something you can memorize so don’t pick anything too long.
My personal one is 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of fear; but of power and love and self-control.” It reminds me that any fear that I am feeling is not God given. He did give me the power to fight my fear, a love to reassure me that I am not alone and self-control to keep my fear from taking over.
Need help finding a mantra?
So those are my mental exercises for you to try. Next are the things that you should NOT do when you feel yourself starting to get anxious.
The Do Not’s
Do NOT get onto social media.
There is never a good place online to go where you will be able to effectively calm yourself down. If you get on Instagram you are going to feel like you aren’t measuring up to all the other picture perfect moms on their. If you are on Facebook you are most likely to stumble onto some drama or something sad. When your fears are out of control you need to focus on your own self, not try to push it aside with snippets from other people lives.
Do NOT google anything.
Y’all, I am so bad at this. I described my own battle with anxiety (here) and how I used to spend hours on google because I thought I was dying. Don’t do this. Seriously. If its seriously a medical concern see your doctor. If you have a question about something motherhood related you probably aren’t going to get the best answer online. Marriage advice, relationship advice, parenting advice… these are not things that google is going to help with!
Do NOT add any extra caffeine or sugar into your body.
It might sound good in the moment but an overload of either of these makes it so much harder on your body to process how you are feeling. For me personally if I have too much coffee my body will start to feel anxious without any trigger other than the caffeine. You don’t want to jack up your blood sugar levels, you don’t make it harder for your body to work.
I know some of these tips sound silly but I can honestly tell you they work! If you are reading this it’s because you are looking for help. Try a few of these methods and let me know how they work for you! I would love to hear what beautiful places you guys start constructing in your brains!