I don’t know about you guys, but my anxiety is through the roof right now, and probably will be until January — I feel like it’s the case with a lot of women I know right now!
We’ve talked a lot about anxiety over the years, but not in a while, so I thought I’d start a post on how to deal with anxiety — please feel free to add your own thoughts! How do you cope with anxiety when you’re busy, ladies?
#1 Tip to Cope with Anxiety When You’re Busy: Get Quality Sleep
Lately I’ve been having problems both falling asleep and staying asleep (wheee), and I know this is my first avenue of attack. Here’s what I’m doing…
Try sleep aids. I’ve tried melatonin and magnesium (Calm supplements) and I’m not sure if they’re doing nothing — or making it worse. (My youngest has taken a very small dose of melatonin for a few years now, so I know it can be helpful for some people!)
Practice better sleep hygiene. I am horrible about this — some nights I’m actually surrounded by my phone, iPad, Kindle, and Chromebook, because YES I am crazy. In a perfect world I would put Twitter and my stupid iPad game away at 10:30 and only do Kindle or read actual books. I’m off to set an alarm on my iPhone to remind myself of this…
Use a weighted blanket. After a few nights of screwing around with melatonin and magnesium, I remember, “OH YES, I have a weighted blanket.” As I’ve noted before, I like that it’s a drug-free option. It’s huge and unwieldy, so it’s a bit of a commitment to dig it out and put it on the bed… but the first night I had it on top of me I felt this delicious sinking sensation. YES PLEASE, I’D LIKE SOME MORE. I woke up a few times here and there, even with the blanket, but it was the first night of decent sleep in a week or two that I’d had. Onward with the weighted blanket! (Apparently they make some with CoolMax fabric in case you get hot at night.)
Some great sleep aids if you’re struggling with sleep issues…
Find Books and Shows that Make You Happy
When I was younger, I realized that I really enjoyed romance books but decided they were such easy reads that I should limit myself to one or two a year, only after I’d read “harder” works. Accordingly, I read maybe three or four novels a year for much of my 20s and early 30s (in fairness to me, law school and practicing law took up a lot of mental energy!).
Well, for several years now, instead of reading one romance book a year, I’ve read about 40 a year — they make me happy, and I’m no longer going to keep myself from such an easy “win.” I like the happy ever after, the delight the characters find in each other, and the often silly turns of events. We’ve talked a lot about brain-candy books in the past; readers recently had some great threadjacks for fantasy and sci-fi books (and one with lots of great suggestions for non-political books to cheer up a grandpa).
Similarly, we’ve talked about the best shows to help you laugh — just as important is avoiding shows that bum you out. My husband and I recently decided that Ozarks, while wonderful, was too dark for where I am right now, so we’re taking a break.
Focus on Meditative, Sensory-Friendly Activities
A quick list of activities that can help (provided you don’t listen to a political podcast while doing these!):
- spending time in nature
- repetitive/mindless exercise (think running or swimming laps)
- adult coloring books
- baking bread or other activities involving kneading dough (pasta, fondant, whatever)
Here are some easy kits and books to get you started on cross stitch for stress relief…
Connect with Friends
This is the biggest thing I’m struggling with right now. It’s hard to connect with friends while social distancing; attempting to make social plans stresses me out (a restaurant?! ANOTHER Zoom call?). And that’s assuming that you and your friends are all on the same page with the pandemic and politics and so forth; my own friends and I have vastly different approaches to schooling, social distancing, and thoughts about the protests and election and more. (And that’s among those I consider to be my liberal friends!)
I’m not sure of the best ways to feel more “connected” and grounded outside yourself — I’d love to hear what you guys think.
Again, this is a bit of a struggle right now — I’d love a massage or a spa day or a weekend getaway with my husband but… yeah, those aren’t happening right now.
I’ve been trying to do more restorative yoga with Down Dog. I’ve also been trying to spend time meditating, but when you’re in the throes of anxiety it can feel hard to disconnect and focus on your breath.
Therapy and Medication
Online therapy is easier than ever these days, and readers have sworn by anti-anxiety medication for years. I’ve never taken more than a few Xanax pills, though, so I can’t comment. (This looks like a great guide to which medications are best for anxiety disorders — but of course, talk to your doctor.)
Readers, how are you doing? Are you feeling more anxious than usual? What are your best tips for how to cope with anxiety when you’re busy?