hello! hope you don’t mind asking for some advice! i have a lot of anxiety and a lot of it is sparked randomly and so much is caused by my mom because of our strong differing opinions. i’ve tried so many ways to calm down but i can’t just seem to be the chill laid back person i want to be. thank you! take your time and have a lovely day <3
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Thank you for contacting Asking Jude. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve been experiencing a lot of anxiety. Anxiety is a terrible feeling, especially when you don’t know why you’re feeling that way. Are there any other situations where you feel anxious? Do you remember when your anxiety attacks started to happen? If you feel comfortable answering these questions, I can help you even further if I know more background information.
Although anxiety feels overwhelming, it can be managed. You’ve mentioned that you’ve tried some things to calm you down, but they didn’t work. I’m not quite sure what you’ve tried, so I apologize if I recommend something that hasn’t worked for you. Here are my suggestions:
Breathing: When we are anxious, our body activates it’s “sympathetic nervous system,” aka the body’s gas pedal. Breathing helps us start “the parasympathetic nervous system” aka the brake pedal, which lowers anxiety levels. There are many different breathing techniques out there that you can, but I recommend box breathing. Here are the instructions: https://www.healthline.com/health/box-breathing.
Grounding Techniques: Grounding helps our body to calm down in the moment of feeling anxious. It forces us to focus on what’s going on in the moment, not the perceived danger. I recommend the 5-4-3-2-1 method. Here are two guides with the instructions (and a few other techniques): https://www.therapistaid.com/worksheets/grounding-techniques.pd and https://www.winona.edu/resilience/Media/Grounding-Worksheet.pdf.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a technique that utilizes tensing and relaxing different muscles in the body. It can help trigger a calming response in the body. Check out this step-by-step handout: https://www.anxietycanada.com/sites/default/files/MuscleRelaxation.pdf.
Journal: Writing down your thoughts and worries is very cathartic. I recommend writing in your journal when you are having a bad mental health day or very anxious. I found these articles with advice on how to journal: https://journaltherapy.com/journal-cafe-3/journal-course/, https://www.verywellmind.com/journaling-a-great-tool-for-coping-with-anxiety-3144672, and https://medium.com/@micahmcg0035/brain-dumping-for-the-stressed-and-anxious-a6f76e6c05c8.
Mindful Meditation can be hard to get into at first, but it does help lower anxiety levels if you keep practicing. There are many meditation websites and apps out there, but I recommend that you check out the following websites: https://students.dartmouth.edu/wellness-center/wellness-mindfulness/mindfulness-meditation/guided-audio-recordings, https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/mindful-meditations, https://www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/, and https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/mindfulness-meditation-downloads.
Half-Smile: Okay, I know this sounds weird, but doing a little half-smile can help regulate emotions like anxiety, anger, and depression. Usually, after 10 minutes of having a small smile, your mood should improve. Here are some handouts with more information: http://www.edencounseling.com/resources/dbt_distress_tolerance_group_7_handouts.pdf and https://www.necmh.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/14-half-smiling-and-willing-hands.pdf.
ASMR seems to help individuals with depression, insomnia, and anxiety. ASMR has so many different videos from paint mixing, slime, soap cutting, whispering, calming audio sounds, etc. Experiment with other videos to see what works for you. You may enjoy Asking Jude’s ASMR channel called “Noctiflora,” which you can check out at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCW-frOIU0fLnTSxOxKnBT8Q.
Some other things you can do to manage anxiety is to get enough sleep, exercise, limit the amount of caffeine you drink, color, squish stress balls/play-dough, or channel your anxiety into some of your hobbies. Not every self-help trick works for every person, so do some experimenting to find the right fit for you.
For more help, check out the following workbooks and handouts for anxiety:
In addition to the resources above, I recommend that you utilize helplines for added support. Hotlines are great resources because they are free, confidential, and available 24/7. They provide excellent emotional support either when you’re facing a problem or after. Here are my suggestions:
Crisis Text Line: Text “HOME” to 74171 to connect with a crisis counselor.
7 Cups of Tea: Visit www.7cups.com or download their (IOS or Google Play) to create an account. Once you do, you can start speaking with a listener and/or attend group sessions on numerous topics like anxiety.
YouthLine is a peer-run helpline. From 4-10 pm PT, you can chat with a teen volunteer. Any other time, you will be connected to an adult. Visit https://oregonyouthline.org/ to view their support line options.
TeenTribe is an online peer support group for teens struggling with mental health or difficult family challenges. Visit https://support.therapytribe.com/teen-support-group/ to get started.
Your anxiety may feel overwhelming now, but you will overcome it. In time, you’ll be the chill and laidback person you want to be or were. However, please keep in mind anxiety is a normal human emotion, so that you will experience anxiety from time to time. You got this. If you need any more support, please don’t hesitate to come back to Asking Jude.
P.S check out Asking Jude’s YouTube channel for helpful videos at www.youtube.com/c/AskingJude.