In the mental health community, I feel like a lot of the time we can jump from Point A to Point C. Point A = “I am struggling with my mental health.” and Point C = “Look at what my life looks like after Anxiety.”
I try to show a little bit of everything. I think for some people, their mental health can look like a pretty linear journey. If you remember the biopsychosocial model – everyone’s mental health is based on different things. For some, mental health is heavily influenced by trauma, for others, it might be their neurochemistry, a genetic disposition, or the way that they were raised.
That’s why there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for mental health treatment. If one approach worked for everyone then no one would struggle. Even people with the exact same symptoms will respond differently to medication.
So, for many of us, it is not as easy as: mental illness – treatment – management – recovery. I feel like I will always be in the “management” phase. Yesterday, I was dealing with a hail damage claim with car insurance and I felt my anxiety spiking up. I’d had a great day up to that point and then my brain started that anxious spiral. “I have to… What if… What if… I should… What if…” and an hour later I realized my mood had totally plummeted and my anxiety was spiking – upset tummy and everything.
So I practiced my coping skills and self-talk.
I reminded myself we focus on the things we can solve/deal with/fix TODAY, not tomorrow and the day after and the day after. That, in the big scheme of things, it is manageable and I can deal with it. And I managed to pull myself back from that anxious edge and focus on the here and now and then I had a great evening.
I love that my coping skills can help alleviate anxiety.
But they’re still probably always going to be a part of my life and managing my anxiety.
When it comes to managing anxiety – here are some things to focus on.
When you feel your anxiety starting to spiral taking a break is important. Even if you can only step away for a few minutes that can give you the time and space to focus on a coping skill. Some coping skills are physical like taking a walk or moving your body in a way that releases stress. Others are sensory like listening to music or curling up with a blanket. There are also many coping skills that are based on self-talk, journaling, and walking yourself through tough emotions.
Focus on Progress – Not Perfection
“I mean, that’s life. Life is never predictable. Life is never really manageable.” – Joanna Gaines quotes
With anxiety, it feels like there’s always something to be anxious about. I’m never truly going to get away from it. Just when I think I have everything taken care of another thing pops up and sometimes it can feel like an endless line of things with no break in them.
That’s when I focus on mindfulness. On being here in the now and in the present. I can worry about a million things all day long and it won’t change those things but it will change me. I’ll become stressed out and worn down and I won’t be able to do anything about those things and then the cycle will get worse because it just repeats.
I’ve learned how to focus on just what I can do in a given day and worry about the rest of it later. I’m still a work in progress. I have a court date for guardianship of my brother next month and old-me would obsess about it from now until then. Every day an endless cycle of what-ifs. Now, I know that the day before, or even the day before that, the anxiety is probably going to hit me but for now – I’m allowed to enjoy the moment.
Have A Good Support System
There have been many times where my anxiety is being fed by the people around me. Whether it’s toxic relationships or friendships that thrive on drama. There comes a time where you have to make the decision to cut them off or set some serious boundaries.
When you surround yourself with people who are seriously rooting for you, who surround you with love and support – you’re reminded that things anxiety sometimes tells you – are not true.
When I was around people who were untrustworthy, constantly let me down, or were only friends with me for what I could do for them – it reinforced my anxious thoughts that said no one cared about me.
No amount of coping skills or self-talk is going to matter when it’s constantly undermined by the people around you.