Monday, October 24, 2022

My grab and go anxiety management tools


A bit of stress occasionally might not need too much thought to live with. But what if the stress bursts in suddenly and looks like it won’t leave anytime soon?  How can you keep getting through each day when every day is overwhelming?

Recently we entered a time that seems like it will be one of prolonged stress. 

Cue anxiety. It is hard to focus and breathe. 

It's pretty intense and looks like it might go on for a while. It's been 2 months already. What tools do I have that I can just grab straight away and start using? What has been helping?

Enabling- On Anxiety Management


In normal times I wait until I have a good amount of time to go for a bike ride. I need half an hour or more to make it worth it, enough time to ride to the other side of the park.

But with anxiety threatening to overwhelm I've been taking any bits of time I can. Even if it means only 5km, and even if it’s in a hot part of the day. Even a little bit of movement makes a difference.

On intense days it means I can feel it right away. On not-so-intense days I know it’s still important. If I’m exercising regularly anxiety spikes are less fierce.

And I'm riding through trees and past lakes/moats of water so the scenery is beautiful which helps too.


What if you could calm your nervous system for free, (almost) anytime and anywhere?

At first, breathing exercises made me dizzy, but now that I know how to do them, it feels like a superpower.

Deep breathing exercises centre your nervous system. In counselling, I learnt triangle breathing and another similar one. Box breathing is another well-known method.

I felt how much I had come to rely on breathing when I found myself in the hospital earlier this year.

After rushing our child to the hospital I started to feel anxiety building up in my body. Time to breathe! But, it didn’t work with a mask on and it wasn't an option to take it off. (It was the pandemic, and we were in the ICU of a children’s hospital in Cambodia. There were at least 10 very sick, very small children in the room.)

In that situation, all I could do was notice how I felt and deal with it later.

However, in our current season, I'm able to use breathing exercises to manage anxiety. 

Other tools that have been helping include:

Sleep, nutrition, guided imagery, and books.

More on how books have helped:

Reading Narnia out loud has given me a chance to focus on a magical fictional world. While reading I’m holding the physical book in my hands and having to articulate each word. My children and I really enjoyed it. We read all 7 Narnia books over the last few months. Coincidently we just started before this anxiety began. I wrote more about our experience in these 2 posts:
We are deep in Narnia
From the Dawn of Time until the Last Battle.

I was a bit sceptical when I heard about a Christian book on anxiety, was it going to quote "Do not be anxious" at me?

I was proved wrong when I heard the author interviewed on The Pastor's Heart. In fact, the blurb did quote Philippines 4 but in a way that attracted rather than repelled me.

‘Do not be anxious about anything' says the Apostle Paul. But Paul Grimmond says saying that to an anxious person is a bit like telling an ice-cream not to melt in summer.

NB- I haven't actually read this book yet, hoping to one day. It's helping me just by its very existence.  

When the Noise won't stop
A Christian guide to dealing with anxiety 
by Paul Grimmond


There is so much hype around the issue that is triggering my anxiety. I don't want to expose myself to unnecessary triggering. I’ve been trying to take in all the relevant information and bypass the rest. Not possible to do it perfectly but a balance to strive for.

I also have to be careful about the time of day I take in information. I know it will stress me out more if it’s later in the day. If there is some big news I need to hear, my husband knows to share it with me at lunchtime rather than in the evening.


Thanks for reading. What's on your grab-and-go list? 

Head over here to read what other chronic illness bloggers wrote for these prompts: A Chronic Voice October Linkup

Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

1 comment:

Anne said...

managing anxiety is extremely difficult. I'm glad you have found some tools to help you through the difficult times and keep them at bay.