Four tips for managing your anxiety during stressful times

Four tips for managing your anxiety during stressful times

Photo by Monika Berry

Geelong’s Kim Cooper shares some practical ways that you can keep feelings of anxiety at bay if you are starting to feel overwhelmed.

Hey Forte Crew!

One of the things I love about Instagram is the ability to have 100% autonomy over how I use it. Being a professional singer and having skills that land me on camera often means that people usually assume someone like me wouldn’t have anxiety. I must be constantly confident because I’m not nervous on stage right? Not. At. All. In fact, I am far from that and that’s why I love insta because I can really smash any preconception that I have it all together.

That showing that vulnerability also allows me to avoid the pressure to have a glossy social media presence that presents like I’m giving “advice” for peasants who do not know how to “life” properly, rather than simply be who I really am… Someone who is a hot mess, just trying to do life a little better than yesterday and who forgives herself when she doesn’t quite nail it (or royally F’s it up, which I have also been known to do).

Now although I am clearly no psychologist or trained anxiety expert, I have however got 20+ years of anxiety experience and although I don’t always have it under control, I am 200 per cent better at managing it than I’ve ever been.

So, I thought I’d share a few tips that have been helping me manage my anxiety the last 12 months, because if there is one thing this crazy life has taught me, it’s that people are more similar than we are different, which means these tips might just help you too.

1. Plan ahead.
Being prepared can help neutralise some of those obsessive, catastrophe based thoughts and keep life as calm as possible. It also means that if/when anxiety hits (which if yours has a mind of its own like mine, sometimes it just does), I’m not also dealing with the chaos of being unplanned or unprepared. Competence breeds confidence (read that again), and feeling confident in what you’re doing will help you navigate through those anxious times.

2. Know your triggers.
Being self-aware about your anxiety will help you be able to navigate situations that trigger it better. Does going to the shops make you anxious? Take note. I often wear my headphones with chill music playing whilst I shop to assist with the overstimulation.

Knowing yourself will also allow you to prepare those around you on how to assist you. Does turning up someone alone makes you nervous? Take note. Let the friend your meeting know so they can help be there for you. It takes a great amount of courage to communicate your triggers to those closest to you, but I promise it is worth it as they can really help prevent anxiety or understand your behaviours in the future without you having to explain in your times of need.

3. Be ok with taking breaks.
Anxiety can be exhausting. It’s as simple as that. Having your mind and/or body racing at 100 miles an hour in full fight or flight mode for a period of time is going to require some post-anxious downtime. We need to reconcile with this and simply work around it. For me, that looks like 15min-1hour naps, or sometimes just scheduling some quiet time into my day. I just can’t run back to back all day; I wont make it through at my best which isn’t good for me or those relying on me. So be realistic about your capacity and run at the pace you need, not the pace people think you should have. You know yourself best.

4. Take responsibility
I’m a huge advocate for being strong via vulnerability and letting the people in your world know how they can help but at the end of the day, I have to take responsibly for my anxiety and manage myself. And so do you. It’s our thing, our life, our body and our brain overreacting. Our friends and family are simply the support act. I think it’s really important to do as much as we can to manage (therapy, self-education, perhaps medication, eating well, getting enough sleep, exercising and/or using techniques to help with obsessive or irrational thoughts), and then let those closest to us be there as an aid, not to always carry us.

I hope this helps guys!

Remember, you’re not alone. You’re not abnormal. You’re not crazy. And there is SO much you can do to help yourself live your best life, regardless of your anxiety.

Sending my love,

Kim Cooper is a local singer in the Geelong region. You can follow Kim’s journey via Instagram.