Got Anxiety? How I Deal With It

Do you have anxiety issues?

If you’re like me, your anxiety has anxiety. Or maybe you just have little moments of anxiety. If so, congratulations.

But me? Just call me Capt. Panic Attack, the superhero whose superpower is overloading the brain with stress.

OK, so it’s not that bad all the time, but it may be a good answer when my friends ask why I peel the label off my beer bottles or why I’m up at 4 a.m. And sometimes it does feel pretty crippling, which sucks because I have a lot of stuff to do.

Luckily, work doesn’t cause me anxiety. In fact, it’s probably my best distraction since I love it so much. There are the angry phone calls and emails every now and then, but for the most part I love what I do and it takes my mind off other problems.

But for the rest of the time — even just driving from work to home — it’s kind of like a box of chocolate: you never know what kind of crazy cherry- or worry-filled candy you are going to get, or when for that matter. And that can be very terrifying and overwhelming if you mind goes through a cycle of rationalization. Even the thought of having anxiety is enough to trigger an attack.

I have a feeling that my family sensed my stress for Christmas, because I received some gifts adults normally wouldn’t: A journal, pajamas, massaging neck pillow, a 3-D puzzle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral and coloring book.

Apparently adult coloring books are becoming popular. This isn’t your coloring book from kindergarten. These are intricate, delicate designs that take thoughtfulness, detail and patience. And I’m convinced that’s intentional, because the point of these books is to draw your focus away from stress.

I would argue it can cause stress, though it may be different from my everyday anxiety. Just like in kindergarten, my patience and skill with art are both minimal. I had a hard time staying in the lines, maybe because I liked to think outside the box, or the coloring spaces.

With so many flowers and seeds and ribbons and whatevers, I realized it would take me too long to color a full page. And yes, I still color like a kindergartner when I get frustrated — just ask the hole in the sheets of coloring paper.

Then I went onto the 3-D puzzle. I was in New York a year ago and my cousin felt it would be nice to remember the trip, especially since I went to St. Patrick’s.

3-D puzzles are pretty cool when you finish assembling them, and when I say assembling, I mean shoving pieces into slots, accidentally ripping off notches and maybe or maybe not using some tape. And sometimes the rules should be considered more as guidelines and you can get creative. I mean, can’t a church have part of a spiralling roof missing?

I am glad to say I did build St. Patrick’s in a day, though it took several hours in that day. It’s sitting on my coffee table, with a slight slant but it’s still standing like a respectable church should.

One project inspired my interest and the other I may need to practice, but both did their jobs: they took my mind off my anxiety. When you have a hobby, you don’t have to be professional or think, which is good since thinking means I don’t sleep, and if I do sleep, I have dreams that I missed class in college and I have 10 minutes to drive 100 miles to get to work.

My point is, hobbies can offer relief while you work on your anxiety issues. Coloring, martial arts, trapshooting, painting, cleaning, crafts, playing cards and cooking can be great outlets for dealing with stress. It may take time to find one thing you like, but it could help you keep yourself calm and grounded.

And who doesn’t like pretending they are Hannah Hart?

So my advice is find something you love so you aren’t constantly thinking the world is going to end or that no one will love you because you had to end a bad relationship. There is a time and place to deal with that, but when those thoughts come up at the wrong time, pick up that coloring pencil and have at it, even if it means getting some color on the table.

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