Dealing with Anxiety | ThoroughlyMLE

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Hey everyone! I’m Emily of ThoroughlyModern Emily, and it’s such an honour to be guest-posting here on Kimberley’s blog! I’m a New Yorker by birth who recently moved from Los Angeles to Chicago, and spent most of her twenties in graduate school for political science. I’m also the world’s biggest Star Wars fan, a voracious reader, and a massive space-exploration nerd, and I blog about style, Chicago adventures, and the occasional bit of Real Talk.

My original plan for this guest post was to share some of my favourite autumn styles. As you might’ve guessed, though, I’m an American and my brain is overflowing with election-related things right now, so I’m going to talk a bit about anxiety, and how I cope. (Don’t worry: I’m not going to write much about the election itself! That’s better left to journalists and my old political-scientist colleagues.)

I’ve struggled with anxiety for most of my life: I’ve worried about catastrophic, world-ending events, whether I accidentally said the wrong thing to a new acquaintance, and everything in between. For the past few years, I felt I’d been making progress: I’d left a career that heightened my anxieties in favour of one that’s felt much healthier, and hadn’t been falling into my old patterns of negativity and fear as often. The election of a walking trigger warning to the highest office in America brought them all rushing back. I’m going back to the coping mechanisms that have worked for me, and I thought I’d share a few of those with you today.
1) Find ways to break the pattern
I tend to get caught in an endless spiral of fear when anxiety takes over. Lately, even logging into Facebook or Twitter has been enough to spark anxiety: every other post seems to be a confirmation of my fears, which just makes me more anxious. For me, it’s really helpful to do something that just hits the hard reset button in my mind. This can be as simple as scrolling through the #bunniesofIG hashtag and watching all the videos, or pulling out all the clothes in my closet to try on and reorganise.

When I look at videos of bunnies nibbling on food, or immerse myself in coming up with new outfits from my existing clothes, I find it soothing. It forces me to concentrate on something else that I enjoy without demanding any superhuman productivity. Figure out what activities serve this function for you and keep a list on your phone to help you break out in tough moments.

2) Talk/write it out
Being an anxious person, for me, means that I have a tendency to catastrophise everything. A few years back, a friend of mine did a scientific study for her PhD work and found that people who verbalised their fears were better able to cope with them. After hearing about her results, I tried this out. It turns out that telling someone exactly what you’re worrying about is surprisingly calming.

For me, verbalising something I’m stuck on (‘omg, I said this stupid thing that I’ve been obsessing over for hours and realised might’ve come across wrong, and now I’m worried that this person will hate me!’) helps me to recognise that even the worst case scenario is not going to ruin my entire life. And for the big apocalyptic anxieties? Verbalising them has helped me to refocus on how unlikely they are.

3) Read a favourite book
Reading is another way I ‘reset’ when my mind gets taken over by anxiety. There’s nothing quite like escaping to another world to distract yourself and let your brain relax. I’ve found that the best way to calm down with a book is to read a book I’ve already read a million times before and know I love. Those happy memories I associate with the book, as well as my affection for the characters and story, help me get back in control of your thoughts. My top three go-to books are Pride and Prejudice, The Fellowship of the Ring, and A Game of Thrones.

4) Prepare ahead of time
One thing I’ve always loved doing is making lists. My journals from elementary, middle, and high school are filled with lists on every single subject under the sun. When I went through a rough patch toward the end of college, I started making lists of things that I enjoy, things that make me happy, and things I like, just to remind myself that there was still plenty of good out in the world. When I’m feeling anxious and caught in a steel trap of worries, I pull out some of those lists, read them over, and add to them if I can.
So there you have it: four things I do to cope when the anxious feelings start to overwhelm me. These habits help me break out of the cycle of anxious thoughts and get back to doing what I love: dressing up and being a bit ridiculous in public! I’d love to hear how all of you deal with your anxiety, too – stop by on my Instagram (I’m @emily.hallock), Facebook, Twitter, or over on my blog and let me know! 

Make sure to head on over to Emily's social media accounts and say Hello!

I'll see you soon

Kimberley Jessica


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