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How I Calm Down - Jess

Written by Jess

I just thought I'd share with you some of the ways I choose to calm myself down if I can feel my mind is racing with worry. To be honest, it depends upon how bad it is and the circumstances it occurs in as to what I can do about it.
The funny thing is I know what techniques there are to control my thoughts and I have learnt a lot about anxiety from the courses I have attended, books I've read and research I have done.  But all that aside I think the hardest thing, when you are despairing is to actually focus upon realistically changing your thoughts. For me sometimes it works, and other times I have to stop and do something entirely different.

For me there is nothing better than getting involved in a good book. I love reading and think that over the years I have also used it unconsciously as a way to give me a break from the way I am feeling. I'm not saying its good to ignore your feelings but if you go back to them later with a fresh mind often you can think through things more clearly. I know reading is not enjoyed by everyone but I think that if you can find the right book on a topic you are really interested in, it is a great way to relax.

I also enjoy listening to music, and I really focus upon the lyrics to take my mind off worrying.  I have a weird talent of being able to recite song words from a huge range of music which impresses and maybe scares my friends slightly.  The only unfortunate thing about this however is that I really cannot sing. So one day if a job is invented where you can make money by reciting song words but not actually singing them, well that would be the perfect job for me.

Another way I can really leave my anxieties behind is to spend time with an animal/animals.  Growing up I spent a lot of time talking to my dog and cat when I felt sad and alone. I appreciate the way animals seem to respond and understand human suffering even though they can't speak. There are studies that have shown a decrease in anxiety levels when interacting with and patting a pet.

When I first got sick I hardly used to sleep, and the psychologist I saw at the time said that it was better to distract myself by getting out of bed and reading or watching TV.  I couldn't focus on reading at the time, as my thoughts were all over the place, but I became good at watching infomercials that were on in the early hours of the morning! ( I was almost brainwashed into thinking that the 5 in 1 food chopper/dicer was an excellent bargain!!). I think her point was that it is better to stop or distract the thoughts by getting out of bed and doing something else (however mundane) to curb the anxiety. Even if it meant lack of sleep, it was doing me more harm than good staying in bed worrying.

I hope this might be of some help to others.

By Jess (2006)
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