I have a lot of feelings. I feel the feels in a big way, and the feels range from super highs to super lows. I’ve been anxious my whole life but my anxiety really blossomed when I was 21 and lost my aunt to lung cancer. I spent three years clawing my way out of a pit of depression and anxiety, and I’ve been in a much better place the last few years. I wouldn’t say I’m fully out of the pit, because I still have plenty of tough days, but it kind of feels like I’m getting closer to the top of the pit and now I have a rope to help pull myself up. For me, my rope is my family, my psychotherapist, my meds — and myself, cause I’m also working hard on me.
I’ve started doing something new in the last year that really helps manage my anxiety. It might work for you and it might not. Everyone’s gotta figure out what works for them. As always: you do you, boo.
Write it out + make a plan
When I’m thinking and feeling a million things at a time (and sometimes it really does feel like a million) it’s too easy to work myself up. When someone asks me what’s wrong, I mean it when I say I don’t know, because it feels like everything is wrong, and everything is much too big a job for my head and my heart to handle in this moment.
So I write it all down.
- Sort through the thoughts and feelings in your brain and try to identify and name them. Sometimes just identifying and acknowledging the feeling can diminish its perceived terribleness. Put it all down, even the stuff that you might not consider important, because you might as well take everything off the shelf before you dust, so to speak. Challenge yourself to get really specific about the feeling, not the incident. For example:
I’m frustrated that I can’t afford to go on that trip with my friends >> I’m disappointed in myself for not saving enough money >> I feel embarrassed that I’m not better with my money
- I can almost guarantee that not *literally everything* is wrong (your brain is just making you feel that way) so go through your list and cross off the things that just aren’t worth holding on to. You’ll know which ones. Let them go, and truly let them go.
- Now go through your list and jot down at least one action for each item. The action should make you feel like you’re making a dent in the issue, it should have a timeline and it should be achievable. You don’t need to solve all of life’s problems today, you just need to take a couple steps to unwind enough to get a good sleep tonight. We’re setting ourselves up for success here, gang,
I feel embarrassed that I’m not better with my money // ACTION: spend one hour reviewing finances on Thursday
- Write those action items down and get to work. As you complete a task, check it off your list. Do a little assessment to see how you’re feeling about that issue and determine whether you need to set another action right away or whether you’re OK to just sit with this one for a while.
- Come back to the list from time to time — if you want to. I prefer tossing the old list once I’ve put my action items on a different to-do list. No need to revisit those bad feelings. When I feel anxious again, I start a new list. I don’t want to add items to a long list of issues, rather, I want to get those issues out the door so I have the emotional capacity to handle inevitable new feelings.
- Pat yourself on the back and cut yourself some slack. Being a human being is tough and you’re doing a great job *fist bump emoji*
What do you think? Will/did this work for you? What other strategies do you use?