Tips for Overcoming Anxiety

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In the museum of emotions, anxiety is the painting featuring a contracted face with drooping eyebrows and the color of fear on the cheeks. Although the most common human likes to walk past this painting without a second glance, when forced to look at it, everyone recognizes those features as being their own at some point during their lives. Maybe that is the reason why no one wants to buy this painting. No one likes to be reminded of the times they were defeated by fear.

The lack of observation of this painting leads to many misreadings — one of them being that anxiety is always bad. This negative premise has been linked to anxiety for as long as time itself. What whispers on the street don’t tell you is that anxiety can actually be good for you, having two important roles: one of protection and one of alarm. Anxiety is what makes you look both ways before crossing the road, is what makes you pay attention to whatever you are doing to avoid getting hurt, is what made you cry when you were a baby and you heard a loud noise. Instead of describing anxiety as the man from the painting The Scream, we should describe it as a group of little men who live in our brains and want us to be safe. Sometimes, however, those little men get visits from outsiders who tell them rumors, such as something being scarier and more dangerous than it actually is. Being gullible creatures, the little men are persuaded to believe those rumors and activate the mechanisms that protect us from the things they think are dangerous to us. It is our job as the main Home to explain to the little men that those things are not as scary or dangerous as they make it seem. How do we do it? How do we win over our mind?
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As someone who has to deal with anxiety constantly, I have compiled a list of techniques that help me control this emotion and feel more relaxed. The key word on all these techniques is “concentration.” And just think of how good you’ll feel when you kick (the bad side of) anxiety’s butt.
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Breathe In. . .  Breathe Out. . .

This technique lies on the premise of breathing being good for everything. When you are feeling anxious, stop whatever you are doing (in a safe way) and just breathe. Imagine that you have a balloon in your belly. Imagine the air going though your nostrils and filling the balloon. Slowly, exhale through your mouth, allowing the balloon to empty itself. Do this five times, allowing your body to relax.
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The Five Senses
When we first learned about our five senses, we were told how important they were for us and how every single one allowed us to experience and capture the world. Our five senses can also come in handy when we are feeling anxious, allowing us to concentrate on something other than our anxiety.
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Name 5 things you can see.
      Breathe.
Name 4 things you can feel.
      Breathe.
Name 3 things you can hear.
      Breathe.
Name 2 things you can smell.
      Breathe.
Name 1 thing that makes you happy.
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The Guided Imagination*

This is a technique often used in therapy when a patient is anxious. This technique believes that guiding a person into thinking of a calm scenario will increase the sense of control over the anxiety. This technique is first shown in therapy to confirm which variations work better for a specific person, and it is then taught to that person, who is incentivated to do it when going through an anxious moment.

*Note: For various reasons (i.e., health, ethics), I will not write down an example of this technique. If you are interested, contact me, and we will make sure this technique is appropriated to you.
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A Face for Anxiety
This technique is often used with infants, but I find it useful for me. When you ask an infant to draw their anxiety, the result is often a disproportionated monster. Curiously, when you ask them to talk about that monster, they usually give it a name, an age, a favorite color, etc. Giving your anxiety a face makes it easier to deal with it because it adds a sense of reality. If you have read one of my previous posts on my blog, then you will know that it is hard for me to focus and to take care of my own person. Giving my anxiety a face and treating it like a friend helps me because I am tricking my mind into thinking I am helping someone else whilst actually treating myself. Sometimes all we need is to look at it as an outsider to find out that the solution has been clear this whole time.
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Writing
Writing works as a catharsis for me. I am not good at speaking to people in real life. Talking to someone about my emotions is something I consider quite hard to do. That is why writing comes easy for me — because I don’t have to speak whilst doing it. I can just allow my fingertips to dance thought the keyboard or to make artistic movements with the pen. One of my favorite teachers once said, “When we are asked to write about anything, we get a second perspective of the situation.”
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Talk to Someone
Mark Twain once said, “When angry, count to four. When very angry, swear.” In the same way it works for anger, it works for anxiety. The more you try to suppress your feelings, the more you will feel. Instead of swearing, though, I would advise you to talk to someone. It could spare you some judgy stares. Talking to people can help you get a new look on whatever is worrying you. Whether you talk to someone you know or to a complete stranger (Time to advertise my job, psychologist representing, 2Kool… I don’t know), talking with someone can take the weight off of your shoulders.
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Catarina
Catarina's middle name is Portuguese for Agnes, and her family is her number one priority. She is a lover of things and questions, and she has way more cracks than the human eye can see. It is most likely that you will find her drinking tea or reading a book or trying to take a photograph of a random scenario. She likes to capture moments, either in the form of photography or drawing. She loves little things and listening to people talk about what makes them happy. Catarina is in the process of creating her own world. Therefore, she made an important decision: to pursue happiness rather than accept unhappiness. So every morning, when she wakes up, she steps on a puzzle... A puzzle of herself, where she spends the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Wanting more. Everything. Maybe too much. And the final result is still unknown to her.

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