Allow me to put this simply: anxiety sucks. It sucks a lot, actually. And as much as it sucks, it’s equally debilitating, making it pretty challenging to deal with at times.
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, and I’ve been dealing with anxiety since I was in high school. I’m certainly not an expert when it comes to understanding this type of mental illness, but I like to think I have a relatively concrete understanding of how it affects me, personally, and further, how to handle it.
I started group therapy for my anxiety via St. Joseph’s Anxiety Treatment and Research Clinic in Hamilton, Ont., and while I’m only a few sessions in, I’ve gained quite a bit of knowledge from the therapy thus far. Knowledge specifically pertaining to how to cope with anxiety, to be exact, and while each person deals with the condition differently, I’ve found these techniques to work quite well for me.
As cliche as it may sound, one coping mechanism that benefits me when it comes to handling my anxiety is breathing exercises, specifically diaphragmatic breathing. To practice diaphragmatic breathing, place one hand on your chest and the other on your upper abdomen. Take a deep breath in, and note whether your chest rises or your abdomen. If your abdomen does, you’re practicing diaphragmatic breathing, which is the one you want. If your chest rises, try and re-focus your breath to your diaphragm.
Another technique I like to rely on is visualization. When I’m feeling particularly anxious about something, I visualize myself placing that worry-inducing thought on a lilypad and watching it get carried along downstream, out of sight. One of the instructors of my group therapy sessions suggested this technique, and I find it to work quite well.
These aren’t guaranteed fixes for anxiety, but they definitely help me. They might help you, too, or someone you know who has anxiety.
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