Sometimes you don’t have to call a friend
Sometimes you don’t have to call a friend when things seem dire. This doesn’t apply to every time. But I can speak for myself when I say that I often reach out to a friend when I am feeling extremely anxious. This is a form of self soothing. But it’s not always possible. Sometimes people can’t pick up the phone for example.
In those cases it’s important to be able to self soothe. I am working on learning ways to do that and my therapist is helping as well. If you are having trouble learning these skills you can work on them in therapy and sometimes you may not even have to pay for that form of counseling.
So what does self soothing look like? Let’s say that you have an intrusive thought. It causes your heart to race and it’s the only thing that you can think about in this moment. Look around you and notice five things that you see. A tree, the road, wheels on a car, my feet and the coffee shop I am standing in front of.
By naming these things out loud I was able to focus on something other than my anxiety. It distracted my brain from feeling badly. This is a grounding exercise that you can use when you feel like anxiety is running the show.
Another thing you can do is take out your journal or notebook you have in your bag and start writing. Writing is free therapy and it’s a wonderful practice to do when you’re feeling depressed, anxious or even angry of frustrated.
If you don’t have anything to write with you can type your feelings into a note on your phone. You can even write yourself an email with how you’re feeling and save it or delete it; it’s your choice.
Breathing is an excellent way to ground yourself. You’ve probably heard about this so much that you’re sick of hearing it but I’m going to tell you about it anyway. Breathe in through your nose and feel your lungs fill up with air and then breathe out through your mouth. Your breath is always with you and can help you snap back into your body. This is great for obsessive thoughts. There have been times when I felt like I am looking at myself from the outside in. Once I started to use my breath I felt immediately more grounded and calmer. I know it can be hard to believe that breathing can help you. I was skeptical too but it does work for me. Try this and see if it works for you when you’re feeling especially anxious.
Your first line of defense against anxiety or any other uncomfortable feeling is to try to manage it by yourself. This is what I’m trying to do before I reach out to a friend. If you’re having difficulty then I would suggest reaching out to your friend after you try these things.
Dealing with anxiety is not easy but we can practice these techniques to help ourselves feel better. What technique works for you when you are trying to self soothe?