5 Tips for Anxious Minds

It is healthy to get anxious at stressful situations, but there are some of us who are naturally very anxious. I have a habit of over-analysing, over-thinking and internalising my barrage of emotions while not knowing precisely how to deal with them. This is common to a lot of introverts that I have talked to, does not necessarily mean all those who are anxious are introverts or all introverts are anxious! With that being said, whatever personality type you are (introverted or extroverted), if you find yourself quite naturally anxious or nervous, here are a few things I have found to be very helpful to me fairly recently.

  1. Journal – Some of us keep journals, but for others it may require a lot more effort. Sometimes developing a habit of doing that can help. Writing down whatever that has been going through and on my mind helps me clear my head and process what I feel about myself and the life events going on around me. My personality type makes me someone who thinks about their feelings/emotions. Writing them down and trying to evaluate them helps me channel and master them in the right way and it helps me keep on top of my own self. If you can’t bring yourself into keeping a journal or simply aren’t up to keeping anything physical for privacy reasons etc., you can still type them on to your computer and delete them later, or write on a piece of paper and then discard it after.
  2. Solo Dates – This might be another “typical introvert” thing to do, but whatever emotion I am going through during a particular day (low, mellow, happy, content, upset, uncertain, etc) I try to manage to go out ‘gallivanting’ – whether it’s somewhere in downtown, to a library, a market or even a shopping centre, it is a form of self-care for me to be in my own head-space without having to be talking to someone. During that time I try not to be on social media too for a couple of hours. I’ll try exploring a new gallery or a café I have never been, or my usual go-to coffee shop to just find a corner or a window seat to relax, think, or simply just observe people and the world going around me. During then sometimes I’d integrate journalling or reading, sometimes I’d rather not. I have found doing this regularly quite therapeutic.
  3. Making Lists – Being organized is one of the oldest rules in the book to minimise common anxiety. I have found that making or breaking up my goals into smaller parts and building them  into checklists make them a) more realistic to achieve during a short period of time, and b) gives you a small boost of confidence each time you scratch them off from your list. I like to make my weekly to-do-lists every now and then in my journal, putting together both my work-related tasks and social-life commitments. Smaller goals are more achievable and will create that accumulative effect of giving you more confidence and motivation to do the next one, and before you know it, you’ve finished that mountain of a task that you’ve previously found too overwhelming to start with!
  4. Keeping in Touch – building solid friendships for me are one of the most important things for me in my life. Doing so is an investment of a bit of your time and effort, and in life like everyone else, if you do invest in people you will be surprised that there are people who will decide to stay in your life and remain good friends for life. Good friends are friends that care about you and having meaningful friendships with them will help you see yourself in a slightly different perspective. I suppose introspection can only go so far. Whatever personality type you are, it is always worth building lasting friendships no matter the time or distance because life is best when shared with a few that know you and accept you for who you are, than to be shared with many who aren’t interested in your true personality. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to off-load every single detail in your life to them or depend on them entirely – remember that they may also have a lot going in their lives too! Being mutually understanding, respectful and having boundaries are crucial basics for building healthy relationships.
  5. Accepting and Letting Go – As corny and cliché it may sound, these two work hand-in-hand like skin and bone, holistically in almost all of our emotional health. There are things in life that we cannot force, that we must be patient and simply accept so that you can say to yourself, “I’ve done the best I could.” Whether it is from your academic or career goals to relationships, we have to sometimes make our own closures when we aren’t able to get one. It’s completely normal if you don’t feel calm and peaceful about a certain aspect in your life 24/7, because this does take practice. Sometimes it takes the continual effort of accepting then feeling anxious, then realising your anxiety and accepting again. For most of us it isn’t really a ‘one-off’ process, as most of my life I have always believed that it has to be so. And sometimes it takes discipline, which to me is as equal as bitter medicine. It won’t taste as good, but it will do the best for you on the long run.

And no matter how busy most of our lives are, rest is as important as work because if we don’t, on the long run it can be quite counterproductive (speaking from my personal experience). Compartmentalising and investing some time from our busy daily schedules for self-care is as productive since it can give you more energy to keep moving much more sustainably.

To end, I just want to add a disclaimer that this is not a prescription for people going through severe or clinical anxiety. Sometimes self-care does the trick, other times it may require seeking medical or professional help that must work hand-in-hand with, and there is nothing wrong or shameful about that.

Published by Anna Tan (陈丽安)

Anna is a neuroscientist (by training) who is passionate about International Affairs. She describes herself as an East-West hybrid, well-versed with life as a third culture kid that was raised in South East Asia. Anna also enjoys museums, theatres and her morning coffees. She also likes her Kaya Toast and Mohinga (on separate occasions). She is currently based at King’s College London, at the Faculty of Social Science and Public Policy. You can follow her on Twitter: @AnnaTanGTW.

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