Although one way of handling anxiety is to avoid those things which make you anxious, this is certainly not always practicable in the real world. From day to day, it frequently happens that you can’t help but run into situations which trigger your anxiety. Preparing dinner, for example, makes my anxiety go crazy, and yet people have to eat every evening.
But what do you do then? How do you deal with the anxiety that you can’t avoid?
Over the last several months and weeks, I have been trying to answer this question. It’s a tricky problem to resolve, but a resolution would make such a difference. Although I don’t feel like I have fully succeeded, I do think I have made headway.
In studying myself and my life, here is what I have figured out:
1. It helps to discern the cause of anxiety.
We may know something is a trigger, but we may not know why it is a trigger. Oftentimes, if we can get down to the source of the anxiety, we can uproot it, or at least allay it to some degree. I figured out, for example, that what was causing me so much anxiety about my daily tasks was the fear of the effort I would have to make in spite of the fact that my depression made me so tired. Once I was able to come to grips with that fact, I was able to handle my anxiety better.
2. Putting things into perspective lessens anxiety.
To use the same example about myself, when I discovered that I was anxious about the energy I would have to expend, I was able to tell myself that the efforts were really only little things. Yes, all effort is difficult when you have depression, but if you can step back and understand how those things on which you have to exert the effort actually fit into the scheme of life, they don’t seem so big anymore. And the result? Recognizing my fear and putting it into perspective has helped partially to do away with the fear.
3. Having a peaceful resource to turn to keeps the anxiety from being constant and can even help you to gain control of it.
Sometimes when I am very anxious, I just put on perfume. It sounds silly, but the pleasant smell turns my thoughts to something positive and helps me to stop focusing on the anxiety. At other times, if there are a few moments to read, a good book will relieve the pressure of the anxiety. Or again, just looking at or going to my favorite places in my home does what I need. The peaceful resource could be anything: a cup of tea, a beautiful picture, a soothing song. Whatever injects a little positivity into your life will give you a break from the anxiety and may help you to step out of it enough to manage it.
These three things have helped me. They are simple little solutions, and yet they do make a difference. If you are anxious, see if they work for you too, and if you have any other ideas, share them with us in the comments below.