…backed by science, of course.
Anxiety can hit a person and derail them in an instant.
Managing anxiety is never easy, as prescribed medications can often only be short-term as they are highly addictive or, if they are prescribed a longer-term medication, it doesn’t work very well.
Part of the reason that it’s so hard to find a medication that is a cure-all for anxiety is that it takes so many forms. From recurrent insomnia to plain old generalized fear to restlessness and irritability among crowds to panic attacks, feelings of anxiety run the gamut. Most people experience anxiety sometime in their lives, but when it starts interfering with sleep cycles, ability to work, ability to eat/rest/have a life, it becomes really problematic. And it’s no joke: research has shown that if left untreated, anxiety leads to depression, early death and suicide.
Fortunately, there are some scientifically-proven treatments that do work. When I first read about them, I thought they sounded crazy but after researching these ideas further, they all make total sense to me and, as a person who suffers from anxiety, I’ll be adding them to my anxiety arsenal for sure. These are notions that seem just crazy enough to work.
1) “Do it badly”.
If you’re feeling pushed to make a decision or like it’s often hard to get things started, start anyway, or make the decision anyway. Harbor the expectation that it’ll be done badly: failing at something is great practice for doing it well.
The “do it badly” mindset pushes you out of indecision and forces you to move forward on it. Just get it done, and figure out the terrible bits later. Whether it’s the story of your life or the costume you promised your little one two months ago now due in two weeks: Get. It. Done. Badly.
2) Wait to worry.
If you’re particularly self-critical and self-doubting, this is the one for you. Imagine that you had a friend who constantly criticized you for everything you do, even things you don’t realize you’re doing. You’d likely not keep that person around, would you? Even if it was yourself?
Wait, what? You might be doing that to yourself? Yes, indeed. It’s pretty common among people who suffer from anxiety to also be people who are incredibly hard on themselves. This is where “wait to worry” comes in.
If you’ve got a circumstance or situation that makes you stress out and you’re starting to worry about it, postpone your worry until your designated worry time: ten minutes each day you set aside to worry about everything you need to. Most of the time when you get around to worrying, you’ll find there isn’t really much to worry about anyway. And if there is, you’ve got a time and a place to do it. Just not now, please.
3) Help other people.
Study after study continue to belabor the point: volunteering, mentoring, tutoring, helping an elderly person get to where they need to go, giving up your place on the bus for a young mother -or father- with their very young infant, is actually clinically good for you. So how does it help your anxiety? Well…basically, being connected to other people is a buffer against poor mental health. So the more you help others, increase those connections, and shift your focus from yourself to other people, the better off your mental health will be. Knowing that someone else needs you gives you the opportunity to make yourself less of a priority, and yet in doing so, realize what a unique and wholly your-SELF experience you are having in the world.
Let us know if you tried any of these amazing techniques or checked out Olivia’s TedEd talk. We love hearing from you!