Buzzfeed asked users to share the best advice they’ve heard from their therapists when dealing with anxiety. So I’ve put together the top 12 recommendations from user responses.
“It doesn’t matter who these names belong to. This activity helps a lot to distract from the onset of anxiety. When you start making lists of people you know by typing in their names and surnames, you get distracted, you calm down and the tension you feel begins to subside. Especially if you put a lot of pressure on the pen…”
“I have generalized anxiety disorder, which makes me feel worse, especially at night. My therapist told me to associate my bed with only sleep. When my anxiety starts, I get out of bed and stay away from it until I can sleep again.”
3) Don’t fight the anxiety you feel. Just try to figure out why you’re feeling this way and that it’s normal.
“Don’t try to fight it or don’t think you shouldn’t be angry. This will only make things worse. Understand what you’re feeling and accept that it’s normal to feel this way. And always remember that it’s not your fault.”
4) If you think it’s going to get better, be up against your anxiety. But always come up with logical arguments against your fears.
“I’m an anxious person and I’ve always been scared of things like bears and killers. I’m also always an argumentative person and I’m very intelligent. My therapist taught me to argue with myself and come up with rational explanations despite my fears. This helped put an end to my panic attacks.”
5) Make clear observations about what is going on around you. Repeat these.
“I thought to myself, ‘This car is blue.’ or ‘Today is Wednesday.’ Saying things like this will take your mind off your anxiety.”
6) Practice the 3-3-6 rule. Take a deep breath for the first 3 seconds, hold your breath for the next 3 seconds, and exhale for the next 6 seconds.
“My therapist taught me the world’s simplest technique to help ease my anxiety. It’s a very effective way to get back to normal and refocus immediately.”
7) Go over all the bad scenarios that make you feel anxious.
“The best and yet frightening piece of advice I’ve ever gotten from my therapist was to think through all the things that caused my fears and go after them. For example, when my anxiety started, I was afraid that I would die in my sleep. My therapist asked what would happen in such a situation. He asked how my family and friends would react. Then he asked me to think about all of this. I couldn’t always think of comforting things, but it still made me calm down and feel that I was in control of everything. He also told me that when I’m scared by the thought of dying in my sleep, it’s possible that something like this could happen, and when it does, there’s nothing I can do. Both thoughts helped me get my anxiety under control day by day.”
8) Challenge yourself by doing the things your anxiety tells you not to do.
“Don’t let your anxiety interfere with your life. For example, if something tells you to stay home when you go out and it triggers your anxiety, don’t listen to that voice. Go outside. Don’t let your anxiety win.”
9) Focus on thinking that your anxiety is an ally that keeps you alive.
“When I told my therapist that I hated my worries and fears, he told me that these are the things that kept me alive. If it weren’t for them, I would probably have died. Everyone has fear and anxiety. But mine is a little more dramatic than normal. And at a certain point I find these feelings my friend. I need to see, not the enemy.”
10) Transform the things you worry about into thoughts that will make you smile.
“I once worried that people were judging my every move. My therapist asked me to imagine everyone with a crown on their head. My confidence and anxiety grew by thinking about myself breaking people’s crowns. Sometimes even the smallest things really help.”
11) Imagine that everything that worries you is also something that will excite you.
“My therapist told me that anxiety has the same symptoms and feelings as excitement. She also told me to think about the things that worry me are also the things I would be excited about. It really helped a lot.”
12) Prepare a box for yourself to calm you down when your anxiety starts.
“This box is totally creative, filled with things that make me smile and remind me to take care of myself. I only use these when my anxiety starts.”