Finding my calm

A week or so ago I talked a bit about dealing with anxiety. I have been experiencing a marked increase in anxiety symptoms for a few weeks now and although it always sucks I am happy to report that the intensity has waned considerably. I am taking each day as it comes and try (but I often fail) to not think about it too much. I find that when I think about my anxiety and anticipate another panic attack I actually bring one on. It’s a very funny thing the mind. It is most traitorous. 

Whether or not you suffer from anxiety and panic attacks finding time to relax and quiet your mind can be very beneficial to your wellbeing. I know that regardless of how you spend your day there are always things that stress you out. Staying home with a toddler is both easier and harder than going to work everyday. 

Here are some of the things I do to combat stress and anxiety:

1. Calm- this website provides timed, guided meditation. They even have an app for your phone. I have been loving this app. The soothing sounds and timed sessions are great. The application is free but you can unlock some premium content for a fee. I have found that the free stuff works great. This is a useful tool you can use on your computer or take it with you in your pocket. 

2. Stretching- I have been doing some light, beginners yoga. It’s nothing fancy and the movements are ones that will be familiar to anybody that has ever stretched before a workout. I’ve found some videos on YouTube to this end and just taking those few minutes to stretch and focus on my breathing have helped a lot. 

3. Be creative- I am no artist but I have always enjoyed painting. I used to play around with acrylics and pastels but I didn’t find either of these mediums to agree with me. I have since taken up watercolors and I really love using these. There is something about painting that really relaxes me. I am by no means good but that’s not what’s important. With practice anybody can become a competent painter. That’s my belief,  at least. Once again, Youtube is a great resource as there are lots of talented artists who upload helpful videos about everything, from choosing your paints and brushes to actually drawing and painting something. I have spent a lot of hours on this endeavour and it’s been time well spent. While Diego naps, I paint. 

4. De-clutter- nothing gives me a sense of accomplishment like crossing something off a list. When I make time to organize some part of my life or home I feel instantly better. It can be my dresser drawers, the living room, or even my e-mail inbox. When I de-clutter I feel better. Busywork is very good for keeping the mind engaged. It also makes my house tidier. Deleting old emails and organizing ones I want to keep is one of my favorite ways to bore myself calm. 

5. Talk to a friend- when we feel down, anxious, or just sad we tend to feel alone. Everyone is different, and it might not be your cup of tea to seek interaction when you’re not in a good headspace, but I think we need to make an effort to be sociable even when we don’t want to. I’ve found my mood lifted just by a random text from a friend and when intrusive thoughts threaten to take over a well placed call can snap me out of it. I have learned that asking for support and being open about my struggles is better than suffering them in silence. 

6. Think happy thoughts- this isn’t just a way to fly in Neverland. Listen to your favorite music (Pharell’s Happy is my current instant mood lifter), watch funny videos, look at your favorite pictures, play with your pet, or just think about your favorite things. When we think happy, we are happy.