How do you deal with anxiety?


I don’t have a here’s-how answer on this one because my strategies are situationally-specific and constantly changing, also I strongly believe that no one person can really tell another how to deal with stuff. Because one’s stuff is so very one’s own, you know? Also, “deal with” and “deal with effectively in a way that makes me feel better” are two different things. Like, sometimes I deal with anxiety by obsessing relentlessly over either a) the source of my anxiety or b) some other identified-patient source of anxiety that’s a convenient distraction from the actual source. Sometimes I do this for months at a time! This is a really ineffective way of coping and makes everything worse, but it is what I do sometimes.

More effective approaches include throwing myself into my work (“John, why are you so prolific?” ha, let me tell you a little about myself) – energy can’t be created or destroyed, only transferred, right, so if it’s an agitated anxiety instead of a depressed anxiety I can, if I’m diligent, move all that energy into: playing guitar or piano, writing lines that rhyme and express some basic personal emotional truth, and then trying to get a take of the work that seems good and true to me

Back on the less effective front, sometimes just stare into the screen wasting time on the internet, which almost never works for me, but I think many of us have an idea that it might, and who knows, maybe it does for some people, I don’t think it works for me though, unless I’m really focused on “why are you here? to get focused. so look at pictures of unicorns why don’t you” but the tendency to just hang around for hours is hard to break and I think I’m better served by going outside or by dimming the screen to black and listening to music, music has always been something I can turn to when I need help. Parenting is cool too though because I can get outside of myself; if I’m paying more attention to teaching my son something or keeping him safe from danger, then I’m not so in-my-head, and that’s another anxiety-transfer in the service of something good: helping a guy who I really love. Good parenting involves getting outside of yourself. Getting outside of myself generally reduces anxiety for me. 

self-affirming stuff too, right — like, this is one major advantage to sticking around for a long time, is when the dread hits me, I can say, ok, you know what, this is temporary, like a fever, I’ve been through this enough times to know that it’s just a wave, ride the wave and let it carry me to shore, I’ve done this a million times, whether I admit it or not I’ve gotten good at it over the years and will continue to improve, this is a pretty undeniable truth, if you keep doing something you get better at it so that’s comforting for me

stay connected to my core, believe in that core and keep its warmth as near to my daily walk as I can

“what worked for them might work for you” – Robert Frost, “Provide, Provide!” though that “might” is a real worm in the wood, right? and yet where would be be without the worms? wormless, wormless, alas, wormless

That reminding yourself that you’ve been here before, you’ve survived it, it’ll pass like it always does: so crucial, so hard to do in the moment.

How do you deal with anxiety?

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