4 Phrases To Help Manage Anxiety
Through therapy I have learned a lot of tools and skills to help manage my anxiety. I have also learned a few key phrases that have stuck with me that I use when I'm feeling anxious. I want to share these with you hoping that they will stick with you or be passed along to someone else.
Ride The Wave
First off, this phrase is not mine! I learned this in my outpatient program. It basically means exactly how it sounds. If you imagine your anxiety as a wave, you'll notice that the intensity will go up and down just like a wave. A problem that people have, including myself, is that we want to stop the wave altogether because no one likes the feeling of anxiety. Some people respond to people having anxiety attacks by saying 'think of something happy'. I'm going to be straight up with you, this does not help me. If all I had to do was think of something happy to end my anxiety, don't you think I would have already done that by now?? What you can say to someone having an anxiety attack is to tell them to ride the wave. That will let them know that it's okay to be feeling this way. You don't have to be in control of it. Just keep riding the wave, until it dies down. It always does. Just like waves always die out once they hit shore.
That's Not In My Hula Hoop
This one is one of my favorites to use currently! I learned it when I started therapy. One of the biggest factors of my anxiety was being worried about what other people thought of me. I would then come up with what they were thinking of me and believe it to be true. I came up with the worst thought they could have about me. That thought was on repeat every time I saw or thought about them. I also was a peacemaker (I still am) and I wanted to help fix everyone else's problems. I wanted everyone to get along. Can you guess how that worked out for me? So, my therapist shared this saying with me. When she first told me it, I thought she was being goofy. However, you can think that everyone has their own figurative hula hoop. The hula hoop consists of you, your thoughts, your feelings, your problems, etc.. You can't put other peoples thoughts, feelings, or problems into your hula hoop. Once this phrase kicked in, my obsessive thoughts about others slowed down. If I started to think about how someone might be thinking of me I told myself "That's not in my hula hoop" and moved on instead of obsessing over it! There is also a misconception with this phrase because it can make it sound like you're a selfish person and don't care about other people. I felt this way about this phrase at first too. However, this is not the case! You can think about how other people view you, but it doesn't belong in your hula hoop. It belongs in theirs. You can hear other peoples problems and help them fix it, but again that's in their hula hoop and not yours. This phrase helps with those intrusive thoughts and feelings!
3. It's Good Enough
Now, this one I learned from my mom and would be very effective for other perfectionists out there! I am guilty of being a perfectionist even starting at a young age. Every day after school when my brothers and I would be doing homework, I would spend a couple more hours than them because I wanted to make sure it was right. When I practiced pitching, I did all of my pitching homework which sometimes consisted of 1,000 pitches in a week. I only counted the good ones until my pitching coach told me to count all of them! I had to read emails probably 10 times before I sent them out to make sure I had no grammatical errors. When I had guests over, I wanted everything to be spotless. If I didn't do something perfect I felt like a failure.
My mom told me sometimes I have to say "It's Good Enough" and move on with my life instead of obsessing over every little thing! This has helped me significantly and allows me to do tasks faster than I previously had. There is also a misconception with this phrase because it can make it sound like you're striving to live an average life. This is not the case. I'm not saying to use this phrase in everything you do, but if you notice yourself getting anxious and then realize it's not that big of a deal then use it! Having this phrase in my back pocket helps with my perfectionism.
4. It Will Pass
Ah, typing this phrase out gives me a sense of calmness because of what it means to me. A few years ago I started to have major anxiety attacks for the first time in my life. I had no idea what was wrong with me. In fact the first time I had one, I thought I was having a heart attack! My vision became blurry, I was hyperventilating, I couldn't talk, and I fell to the ground. I thought I was going to die. At first, my husband had no idea what to do so he just hugged me. Then in my outpatient program, I learned this phrase. They told us that anxiety attacks don't last forever. In fact they don't even last that long. They can last, on average, up to a half hour. They feel so much longer though. However, knowing anxiety attacks will pass actually reduced my anxiety attack intensities because part of the attack was worrying if it would ever end. Once I learned this phrase, I shared it with my husband so the next time I had one he could tell me this. The first time he told me this I got frustrated because I didn't believe it was going to end. However, it did. After a few times is when this phrase started to click for me. Hearing or thinking this phrase at first may make you frustrated because it sounds like you're belittling the attack. This phrase isn't meant to belittle any type of way that you're feeling, but it's for you to use when you're having an anxiety attack to help bring down the intensity or manage it.