People react differently to different things, and what works for one person may not work for another. If you haven’t tried some of these, they may help and they may not, but it doesn’t hurt to try. This list contains behaviours and things people living with anxiety like having or doing to help keep them away from feeling overstimulated.
Have a hot drink
Coffee or tea may not seem helpful to someone with anxiety or may cause more anxiety, but for some people a hot drink is helpful. The aroma is soothing. The heat is comforting as it slides down to your stomach. More importantly, you can easily “hide” behind the coffee mug. Not sure what to say? Sip your coffee a few times and look contemplative. We promise it’ll look like you’re thinking about everything that was just said.
Having a good book on hand can help you avoid unwanted social interactions. Reading is a solo endeavour and if a stranger does approach you, they either want to know what you’re reading or are wondering what the time is or where the bathroom is located. If you’re not much of a reader, you’re missing out on a satisfying activity. Grab a book on your favourite topic and go!
Not everyone is a writer. Some people write it all: poetry, fiction, non-fiction… It’s similar to reading – a solo endeavour, and most people will leave you alone if you’re writing in a journal. Not sure what to write? Write down your thoughts, worries and fears. Sometimes, this will help you cope with whatever you might be going through. It’s important to write down happy thoughts too! If something good or exciting happened, writing it down will help you remember the good things in your life.
Watch films or TV
Many people enjoy watching DVDs, streaming services such as Netflix or BritBox, or actual broadcast TV. Some people enjoy going to the cinema on their own and find it invigorating and social because they “went out”.
Limit social interactions
When dealing with anxiety, many people it’s best to limit social interactions to a couple of hours at a time rather than being out all night or all day. If you decide to hang out with friends, consider limiting it to short activities – for example, movies are usually around a couple of hours whereas going out for a meal can easily turn into 4-5 hours. Don’t be afraid to leave early if you feel like you need to.
Avoid small talk; stick to business or interesting stuff
Many people don’t like small talk; it can feel too forced. Talking about the weather is a classic example. On the other hand, talking about a movie you may have seen is more likely to help you engage in a real conversation because it’s something you’re interested in.
Find a quiet place to sit or lie down. Take slow, loud, deep breaths. Listen to your breathing and nothing else. Listen to the sound you make as you breathe. If you fall asleep, that’s okay too! Try to remove all thoughts from your mind and only listen to yourself breathing. This is kind of like turning your brain off then on again after 15 minutes. If you’re feeling stressed or anxious, meditation can help give you some relief.
Limit social media use
With all the social media options we have and the abundance of information (good and bad) that comes from them, sometimes this can hurt you more than make you feel social. You don’t need to comment on everything or like everything, and it’s okay if you miss out on some things your friends are doing. It’ll give you something to talk about with them at a later time.
Disconnect from the world once in a while
Turn off all electronics — notifications on your phone, the TV, the laptop, everything. Keep your phone on in case of emergencies but only worry about phone calls. Don’t look at text messages, Snapchat messages or anything. Just one day is all you need. Take a break from everything and just chill. Catch up on your reading or writing, take extra naps, prepare a home-cooked meal, or do some other activity that requires using your hands, like sewing or other arts and crafts. Don’t talk to or visit anyone for that one day. It’ll recharge you.
Find out how Dorset Mind can you support you here.
Thank you to our volunteer guest blogger Rita for writing this blog.