Creating Coping Skills for Anxiety

And I’m back with another lesson I’ve learned from therapy about anxiety. In a few short months I’ve come a very long way, and although these posts are no substitute for the real thing, I hope that they’re helpful!

Two weeks ago, I wrote about how I’m finding my anxiety triggers by taking note of what is going on when I feel anxious, and adding it to my list of triggers that lives on my phone. But the work I’ve done with my therapist definitely doesn’t end there.

The next step in our process was to create another list (she gets me, clearly) of things that make me feel better when I’m in the thick of it, feeling anxious or panicky. The idea is that when I’m in the moment, I don’t have to think (which I often can’t do anyway), I just have to open the list and see if there is anything that works for the situation at hand.

Not all of the items on the list work for every situation, so I add things as I think of them so that I always have as many resources as possible to choose from.

For example, one of the things on my list is to take a hot bath. Obviously if it’s the middle of the day and I’m working or with the baby, that’s not happening. But if it’s right before bed and I feel my anxiety bubbling up, a bath with candles and a face mask can help calm me down.

Here are some more examples:

  • Hike with Boots (or just a walk down the street if in a pinch).
  • Go outside for five minutes without my phone.
  • Turn on my diffuser with lavender or peppermint oil.
  • Call Anel or my sister and talk through what I’m feeling.
  • Take a series of deep breaths and say three things that I’m grateful for.
  • Go to the nail salon and get a 10 minute back massage.
  • Clean my office or closet or fridge… or anything in my house.

You get the idea. These are not action items that will cure my anxiety in any way, shape or form, but sometimes I just need to snap out of it to get back on track and live like a normal person on any given day.

Granted, they don’t always work when things get really bad, but I’ve learned that that’s ok. Sometimes I just have to let myself feel what I’m feeling and ride it out. I just remind myself that this too, shall pass.

Photo by Carter Fish at Inner Light Wellness in Darien.

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  1. Allie said:

    Distractions can be such a good thing! That’s how i think of it at least, distracting my mind from being upset. Congratulations on making such strides, and thank you for sharing this all with us! xAllie

    5.15.18 · Reply
  2. Alyssa said:

    I want to thank you for sharing what you’re experiencing mentally. There can be such a stigma around mental health, but I truly believe it feels better when we share about our experiences. These are great reminders of things to turn to when the anxiety starts showing. Thank you for everything you do here on the internet! You are such a bright light.

    5.15.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Thanks so much for saying that, Alyssa. It’s hard to share but I’m glad it helps, even if it’s only one person!

      5.21.18 · Reply
  3. Emilia said:

    Hi Julia! I loved your walk-n-talk this morning! I use a lot of the same tricks – a lot of times getting off my phone and doing something else with my hands, like tidying the house, help me a lot. My super ninja trick is I keep a list of items in my “self-care toolkit” on my phone. Even reading the list helps me feel calm and centered when I’m stuck in a noisy, crowded place and can’t really get away.

    Thanks so much for sharing. When you post about anxiety, it helps me to not feel so alone in mine!

    5.15.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Hahah we have the same super ninja trick, I love it! It truly helps more than I ever thought it could.

      5.21.18 · Reply
  4. Lauren said:

    Thank you so much for sharing. Not kidding but I was just feeling beyond overwhelmed a moment ago and on my “feel better list” is reading positive blogs like yours! I just closed my work email for 10 minutes came to your site and I am already feeling more calm and certainly less alone. You are such a champion for mental health awareness.

    5.15.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      Oh my gosh you have no idea how much that means! I’m so happy that I can help even if it’s in a small way. Sending you love and light, Lauren xx

      5.21.18 · Reply
  5. Justina said:

    I am appreciating you talking about anxiety so much. Having a list of things that could help is so smart. Writing about what I’m feeling when I’m anxious or overwhelmed often helps me, so I have a google doc I use just for that. I also stash a notebook in my purse.

    5.15.18 · Reply
    • Julia said:

      That’s really smart. My therapist has talked to me about keeping an anxiety journal but I keep pushing it off. I’m going to start this week!

      5.21.18 · Reply
  6. Kimberly said:

    Thank you for sharing this!

    6.14.19 · Reply