Depression and anxiety are the mind’s reactions to unfamiliar situations. Depression is when you push things down and try not to deal with it. Anxiety is like a dozen super balls bouncing around a room. I could do this or this or that!

You could call me Anxiety Girl. I’m not the only one, so I thought I’d share some tips I picked up (mostly in therapy) for handling anxiety. First, you have to recognize it. I feel anxiety as either a heavy feeling in my stomach, like I swallowed a brick. I don’t want to eat or sleep. Other times I feel anxiety like crazy energy. I can’t sleep. I can’t sit still. A run around Green Lake feels like just the thing.

After recognizing the feeling, I try to identify the source. Once I realize, “I’m anxious because I’m thinking about moving across the country,” it’s easier not to let that bother me. Of course moving across the country is scary. How will I get there? What will I do with my stuff? Where will I buy groceries? Which airport will I fly out of when I need to go home? And the best way to figure all those things out? One thing at a time, of course! And just like that: less anxious.

My sister passed another tip on to me. You know when you’re lying in bed, mind racing? She suggested counting breaths. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’re familiar with yoga breathing. I like to focus on breathing in and out and count the pauses at the top and bottom or my breath. Let thoughts float out of your mind like bubbles popping. Just focusing on breathing in, one, breathing out, two. When you find yourself thinking, not focusing, you have to start over at one. I like to count to 100, then backward. I usually fall asleep during the backward part.

In, 1, out, 2 … Ahh, I feel calmer already.

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