I’m an anxious lady, but I do my best to keep it on lock-down. If I let myself spin out of control—which happens when I’m not taking care of myself—it’s hard to organize my thoughts and zip myself back up.
Are you like me? Are you an everyday human being fighting an invisible battle that has nothing to do with anybody but yourself? Do you have general (or very specific) anxiety? Do you have tips and strategies for coping with life and its rote challenges?
Here is how I live with my generalized (and very boring) anxiety problems.
1. Build upon positive momentum. Life with anxiety feels relentless. When things are going well, I keep it rolling. I try to sleep, exercise, and eat well. Unplugging from the internet has been huge for me. Abstaining from alcohol, even just for a few days, saves my sanity.
2. Read all the fun books. In general, I try to avoid self-help books. That being said, go read Bryan Wempen’s new book. I enjoy reading books that change the conversation in my head. I’m about to start Luckiest Girl Alive. I also read mindless magazines—nothing serious. We have a subscription to The Economist in this house that I never touch. If I want last week’s news, I’ll watch John Oliver.
3. Breathing works. Anxiety is visceral, sneaky and seductive. If you don’t feel much of anything, which I don’t, it is both miserable and extraordinary to feel like the world is coming to an end. My broken brain tells me that emotional disarray is a necessary precursor to clarity, but that’s a goddamn lie. A panic attack is Gallipoli on the central nervous system. It’s Antietam on the heart. But the one thing that’s true is that I can’t have a panic attack while I’m breathing. So I’ve learned how to breathe.
I have one more tip: don’t take tips from people like me. Go find an expert, and don’t look at me when you’re wandering through a park, alone, hyperventilating and wondering how your life fell apart. I got nothing. If you turn your head, you can see that I’m standing right next to you trying to breathe, too!