Since the past couple of weeks have been less-than-fantastic in the mental health arena, I thought I might share a few of the slightly unconventional things that I find help ENORMOUSLY with my anxiety.
The repetitive movements of knitting/crochet give me something else to focus on, as does following the pattern. A simple pattern is best for if I just need to calm down from low-level anxiety, and a more complex pattern is good when I need to fully detach for a little while and get my bearings. Therefore I usually have at least 2 (often more) projects on the go at any one time.
- Rubiks cube
This is another one of the “repetitive movements” type – but can be more portable. I can solve both a 3×3 and a 4×4 cube, but I tend to only carry the 3×3 around with me – the 4×4 is a little more fragile (it’s the one that fell apart in this post). This is basically like a stressball for me – as well as being a pretty cool party trick.
I sometimes feel like this is a given, but it’s less about the chocolate and more about using it as a form of mindfulness meditation. Take 1 square of chocolate and let it dissolve slowly in your mouth, taking care to pay attention to the sensation of it – the taste, the smell, the feel. Make that piece of chocolate last as long as humanly possible.
- Vicks Vaporub
I always carry a jar of this in my handbag, and not because I’m prone to chest colds. For some reason, I find the smell of the vaporub incredibly calming. Probably some sort of way-back association with comfort from Mum when I was sick, but whatever – it WORKS. I also have gum that has a similar smell/taste while you chew it, as well as having a packet of vapodrops in my handbag.
The texture of satin has always been soothing for me – and I must admit, I still carry a satin ribbon in my pocket EVERYWHERE.
As cliched as it might seem, being able to get onto a game and kill some orcs/darkspawn/evil templars/undead is incredibly therapeutic. This is also how I nut out my frustrations if someone has pissed me off.
- Tai Chi
I started doing this several years ago, when my doctor suggested it to try and manage the joint and muscle pain/stiffness that came from my CFS. It helped a bit with that, but it helped far more with my anxiety and stress levels. I hadn’t done much for a couple of years, since I moved and there wasn’t a class near me any more, but now I’ve found an app to walk me through the movements, I’ve started up again. That couple of years break means I’ve basically forgotten the sequence of movements, but hopefully I’ll soon be able to do it from memory again.
This is more a long-term thing, as it doesn’t do much in the situation of an anxiety attack, but it seems to lower my overall anxiety/stress levels and reduces the frequency and severity of the attacks.
That’s just a few things that I use to help with my anxiety, and just because it works for me doesn’t mean it will work for you – but it also doesn’t mean it WON’T work.
These things are not meant as a replacement for medications, more as a supplement – even when you’re on medication, you can still have acute spells, and having non-drug-based remedies can be very helpful.
Does anyone have their own particular anxiety remedy that they prefer?