I don’t shy away from discussing my own mental health. I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder and ADHD. I have for most of my life. It wasn’t until recently I received my GAD diagnosis. But dealing with slow-building anxiety isn’t new either. At times, it becomes unbearable. Like nothing I do will make it better.
I am not a mental health professional, but I am dealing with these mental health issues. I had developed some unhealthy coping mechanisms in the past that I have been working to challenge and move past. It’s hard and takes a lot of mental effort. These are a few things that I’ve found helped some recently.
Ask what I can control and what I’ve done
I know it sounds stupid. If you’ve ever dealt with anxiety, an anxiety attack, a panic attack, or any combination of the above, then challenging this can be really difficult. My brain tends to go a thousand different directions, often lingering on worst-case scenarios. It revolves around those same scenarios replaying over and over in my head. It’s so hard to silence those thoughts and fears.
Through therapy, I’ve learned one thing that works is asking and identifying factors that I can control. This identifies and puts limitations on things that are actually in control. From there, after identifying things that I can control, I ask myself if I have taken the appropriate steps to do those things to ensure the right outcome.
Does it always work? Not always. I wish the thing about anxiety and dealing with it is that it could be flipped like a switch. It’s on, off, or cured altogether. This hasn’t been the case, at least for me. It’s something I’ve learned I need to deal with and live with. Does it make it easier for me? Absolutely not. But this is more progress than I’ve had in over 30 years and it is a smidge better than letting worst-case scenarios play over and over in my head.
Staying in the present
This is probably the hardest. With anxiety, you dwell and fixate on the future and everything that could go wrong. Staying in the present is the opposite of what you may feel inclined naturally to do. Stay in the present. It’s like asking a child to sit still and not…