I think struggles with mental health issues are just part of the territory with being any kind of creative, but they don’t have to be. In this video, I offer three methods I use to mitigate the anxiety that sometimes accosts my brilliant brain.
Although it’s not an official part of this list, I would be remiss if I didn’t advise to seek professional help from a certified mental health professional. Positive thinking is one thing (and it is a good thing), but some challenges need help. That’s okay! There’s nothing wrong with needing help. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s showing that you know you can’t figure out this particular challenge on your own. If anything, knowing when to ask for help is a sign of strength.
1. DO SOMETHING PHYSICAL
I mention running, swimming, yoga and tree-climbing, but even a walk around the block can help. Anything that gets you moving will increase your serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood.
Get out in the sunlight, or take a vitamin D supplement. Both produce serotonin, but your skin absorbs the sun’s UV rays. Thus, producing serotonin and a wicked tan. Just be careful because too much sun can be a bad thing.
BTW, you can tell I’m being serious here because I didn’t make a dick joke about vitamin D.
WRITE OUT HOW YOU’RE FEELING
You had to know I was going to bring writing into this. After all, this is a website devoted to rewriting your story.
Sit down with your notebook and just write how you’re feeling. If you can pinpoint a feeling, that’s great. Give it a name and then try to work on why you’re feeling that way. Ask yourself, Why does it seems true that I’m feeling _________. Challenge the thoughts, really make them work. Start peeling back the layers of what is true and what is just imagined. Chances are, most of it is imagined.
Once you isolate the issue, start brainstorming ideas to solve it. Imagine yourself not being anxious. Write about a time when you weren’t anxious and then analyze what it was that made you feel that way. Work backward from that and implement whatever you can into your current situation.
TAKE A COLD SHOWER
Much like exercise, a cold shower can be a state change. You step into it all sticky and hot with anxiety and the second that cold water hits you, you’re instantly in the moment, feeling every piercing drop.
Does that sound unpleasant? Well, that’s part of the point. You’re purposefully putting yourself in an uncomfortable position. When you take a warm shower, you stay in for as long as possible, gradually raising the temperature of the water as your body gets accustomed to the heat. You have time to think and your mind can wander. With a cold shower, you have to be present. You have to confront this situation into which you’ve put yourself and deal with it. If you can handle that, then you begin to develop the mental fortitude to handle other uncomfortable situations.
You can ease into this. Start off with a warm or lukewarm shower. Get yourself all lathered up, then kill the hot water to wash yourself off. Let the cold goodness flow all over you. Do this for a while, then start introducing the cold sooner and sooner. Eventually, you’ll be jumping right into the cold, never even bothering to turn the hot water on.
What other solutions do you have for handling anxiety? Do you think these can apply to your brilliant brain? Let me know in the comments below!