Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How I cope with anxiety.

I think anxiety is a topic that most of us are familiar with. I'm pretty sure everyone experiences it to some extent or another. Although I dare say most people don't have to deal with it at nearly the same proportions as we do.

I used my eating habits as a way to cope with my anxiety. Soon my eating disorder no longer was a coping mechanism as much as a source of that anxiety. If I didn't know exactly what time I would eat my next meal, where I would eat it, who would see me eating it, how many calories were in it etc. I would FREAK out. Cue major panic attacks.

At the beginning of my recovery I experienced some pretty severe anxiety. This was due to all the changes happening in my life at the time, the tension at home that was caused by my illness, and my reluctance to change my habits and mindsets. Now that I have moved on and made some serious steps of progress things are much better, but I still experience severe anxiety from time to time.

Today was one of those days. After lunch it seemed everything went wrong. I had to go out to town to take care of some important paperwork and other errands, but it seemed that nothing was working out as planned. I misplaced things, was running late, had to wait on other people. To top it off it was freezing cold outside, one office was closed and it turned out I had forgotten an important document that I was unable to complete the paperwork without. To comfort myself I went shopping only to end up buying something I was unhappy with. I never spend money on myself, and to buy something I don't like made an already bad day even worse. As I was walking home I felt the anxiety building. I got home just in time for snack. I quickly ate something, just so I could have it over with. Then ED thoughts started seeping in. "You weren't actually hungry, you shouldn't have eaten that! You scarfed that down like some starved animal. Why don't you get some control over yourself for once?" It seems that all my negative thoughts get even stronger when I am under stress or pressure or am feeling anxious so this was very difficult for me. Just then my parents started cooking dinner and just the thought of food was making my stress levels rise.

But I've learned that there are actually productive ways for me to cope with anxiety. Depending on what caused it I have different ways of dealing with it. Sometimes I try just blocking everything out and breathing deeply and slowly while listening to some soothing music. This works occasionally, but usually I am not able to keep those irritating voices out of my mind. What has also helped me in the past is doing some yoga. The fact that my body and mind are both engaged help me to feel better. And when all else fails I keep myself busy - usually it involves cleaning and organizing something. Occasionally a friendly conversation helps as well, but I often tend to become snappy and unpleasant at times like these. And since I can't explain why I choose to avoid most people. But doing something active really does work for me. It takes a while for the anxiety to fade, but it always does. In the meantime I try to focus my attention elsewhere. We can't keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest there.

So what I have to show from todays anxiety is a clean room :D. I intend to go into town tomorrow to finish up the paperwork, and hopefully return/exchange the thing I bought. I was able to eat a proper dinner and right now I feel great. I have a sense of satisfaction at knowing I defied my ED once again. I'm planning an evening session of yoga (it helps me sleep) and maybe a good book or movie. Whatever the case I'm sure it'll be enjoyable and I'm looking forward to it.

Do you experience anxiety a lot and do you have any tricks/tips on coping with it?


  1. This post is really encouraging. I'm so glad that you are overcoming your anxiety and defying your ED! You go girl! =)

    I have never been an overly anxious person, but I tend to be very stressed. I too clean obsessively, and this helps me relax! I love to do something like knitting or writing. Sometimes I also just relax by doing yoga or listening to music.

    Thanks for the comment about IP - it was really helpful.

    Hugs! Have a good night and take care of yourself!

  2. I used to experience it quite badly but realised that it will pass - like any other feeling. Once a feeling reaches its peak, it can only decline in intensity from there onwards and this is what I remind myself whenever I'm feeling anxious. Sometimes I do need distractions like going onto WBB or going for a short walk around the block or watching my favourite TV show. Even writing it down helps me a lot.

    You are doing so well :)

  3. i totally understand a lot of what you wrote in this post and about the anxiety. the best way --- er, the healthy way that i cope with anxiety is by self talking and trying to keep busy with other things that i know have to be done- things for work or things for my personal life. Sometimes- I watch TV but that doesn't always work. I try my best not to turn to my old coping mechanisms but then i get anxiety afterwards about the fact that i used them so it's a circle in that case.

    Also- journaling/blogging helps A LOT. And reading other blogs also helps me.


  4. This is such a wonderful post :)
    I'm glad that you were so strong in telling your ED that it is wrong! You DO need to eat if you've been on the go all day. That's awesome that you were able to do that and still have a good dinner, too.
    I'm also a very worrisome individual, so sometimes it's hard for me to deal with things without my ED or other obsessive ways of dealing with it all, but reading blogs like these and just thinking about how unhappy ED makes me in the long run helps me get by.
    I hope your day tomorrow is awesome. It already sounds like a winner to me :)
    <3 Haley