keyboard key 'F1 Help"

My Anxiety Has Flared Up, Now What?

Most of the time I manage my anxiety well, and it does not affect my quality of life or my ability to function.

But every once and a while, I have a flare up.

As weird as it sounds, in the past, sometimes I wouldn’t even be aware that I was having an excessive amount of anxiety. All I knew was I felt more tired, or everything seemed to annoy me. As I’ve learned to tune into my body more, I have gotten quite good at realizing when I’m in a downward cycle of anxiety.

My red flags for anxiety consist of things like: feeling sluggish, wanting to sleep all the time, having a hard time staying focused on tasks, feeling overwhelmed by clutter or having the desire to clean all the time, and ceasing activities that I enjoy, such as writing or reading for fun. (You may notice I haven’t posted to my blog in almost 2 weeks.)

When I get into this pattern of anxiety, it is easy to stay stuck. I was telling my husband yesterday how overwhelmed I was feeling, and that I felt a constant presence of anxiety. He asked me what I could do to take steps to counter it. My initial thoughts were torn between: A) Nothing, and B) I don’t even remember!

That’s the thing when you’re in the middle of anxiety, it’s hard to think straight and you forget all of the strategies out there that are supposed to be helpful in overcoming your anxiety. So you feel helpless, which just adds to your anxiety.

I was, however, determined not to be stuck in the pit of anxiety, and so I sat down with a post-it note and really thought through what I steps I could take to help me during this season of heightened anxiety.

post-it with anxiety remedies

1. Headspace – I only have the free version of the app, but you can still use their “Basics” course and meditate for 5 minutes every day.

2. NO social media – I confess, I frequently check Facebook and Instagram, and I have to say I do believe that sometimes, as research has said, it does make me feel worse after looking at it. I also found I was using it as a way to waste time and avoid doing other things I needed to do, so I’m taking a break for the next week.

3. Pray/Bible – I have a goal to pray and read my Bible every day. It doesn’t always happen, but when my anxiety flares, I know I need to be more purposeful to spend time with God and meditate on His truth. I also pray for help and to have that “peace that passes understanding” (Phil 4:7)

4. Grateful Exercises (daily) – many of us have heard that practicing gratitude is so beneficial for us, and it can even help change our brain and the way we think. I bought a gratitude journal a few years ago, and only was disciplined to write in it every day for about 2 weeks before I stopped. I’m picking this up again to try to focus on positive thoughts.

gratitude journal

5. Think Up – this is a great app, IF you get the paid version (which I have for the iPhone). This is a positive meditation app, and you create your own “playlists” of positive affirmations to listen to. I’m planning to make a new “Anxiety” playlist where I will listen to affirmations like, “I choose to fill my mind with positive, nurturing, and healing thoughts” or “I am learning that it is okay for me to feel safe, calm, and at peace.”

When I am in the middle of dealing with anxiety or depression, I find that the LAST thing I want to do is all of the good things that are supposed to help me. I roll my eyes at meditation, I don’t want to call my counselor, it seems too hard to find energy to do all of the good things I need to do. Maybe some of it is pride, I don’t like admitting that I need help. As a perfectionist, I certainly don’t like admitting that I’m not functioning at my best.

Read More »

One Year Premium Access to ThinkUp FREE!

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, I’m offering a chance to win a free premium subscription (worth $39.99) for one year to the positive affirmation app ThinkUp! The contest ends 4/11 at midnight, so head over to Instagram and find my account (@threadsofanxiety) to see the details on how to enter!

ThinkUp is one of the apps listed on my Top Picks page, and I describe it more in detail in this post. The quick summary of ThinkUp is that it’s an app that allows you to record yourself saying positive affirmations to create tracks you can listen to daily. You can even add background music to make it more enjoyable! The app has suggestions of affirmations to say, or you also have the freedom to create your own.

I hope you’ll check it out and share with others who might be interested!

Update: Positive Affirmation and Meditation apps

So, a few weeks ago I wrote about the power of positive thoughts and I mentioned that I had downloaded two different apps to practice meditation and positive affirmations. I have tried to use and listen to them daily this month and I want to share my thoughts and experience with these apps so you can decide if they might be of use to you.

*I am in no way getting compensated for my recommendations – just sharing my personal thoughts with you!Image result for headspace app

(Headspace) The first one I downloaded is called “Headspace.” It is really a great app to practice the art of mindfulness. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of mindfulness, there’s a great definition from psychologytoday.com:

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you carefully observe your thoughts and feelings without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.

Great things about this app: the speaker in this app has a lovely voice and British accent – his voice is pleasant to listen to as he guides you through your meditation sessions. Each session does a great job of telling you how to meditate, so even if you’ve never tried meditation before, you will be able to feel like you know what you’re doing. Headspace also has great animation videos that explain different concepts and are fun to watch.

You can set the length of time that you want to meditate each session, ranging from 3 minutes to 20 minutes. I tried to do 10 minutes most sessions. There are even some super-short sessions called “minis” if you only want something for 1 minute.

Headspace also has packs of sessions with different themes to choose from (such as “Anxiety,” “Depression,” “Pregnancy,” “Happiness,” “Motivation”…) HOWEVER – you can only access a limited number on the free version, which is what I used this month. The “Basics” pack is 10 sessions and is totally free to use – besides that the app will let you try a few of the other sessions, but not really much else without paying. You can redo the “Basic” pack over and over, which is what I ended up doing – it still gets you in the habit of practicing mindfulness each day, which has many benefits.

The one-time subscription fee (for life) was WAY too much for me to justify paying – but there are options to subscribe monthly ($12.99) or yearly (averages to $7.91 per month). I also have gotten many emails from the app offering me 40% off a year’s subscription, which I am actually really interested in doing. The way I look at it, if you can justify paying more than that for Netflix each month, you can probably find that much to use an app that will benefit your mental and emotional health.

thinkup

(ThinkUp) The second app I downloaded I ended up loving so much! It’s called “ThinkUp” and you basically get to create your own playlist of positive affirmations and record them in your own voice. The free version, which I initially started out with, lets you choose about 5 different affirmations and you can listen to them on a loop with preset music in the background. I loved the idea of it, but I didn’t like that I could only choose 5 affirmations to listen to on a loop over and over. There were so many other affirmations I wanted to choose, so I decided to do a paid version.

There are two ways you can pay – you can pay month to month for a very small price, like $4 – or you can go ahead and pay a **one-time fee of $25 (**price has increased since the initial publication of this post!) to get access to everything and have an unlimited number of affirmations. For me to really use and get the most out of the app, I knew I needed to have at least 15-20 affirmations. And I while I could have tried out the app for a month or two before going all-in, I decided that in the long run it would save me money if I just jumped in and paid for a lifetime subscription. So, I went ahead and did that mid-way through January.

I love that you can look for different affirmations based on categories such as “motivation,” “new career,” (important for me!), “self-esteem,” and “stress relief.” So even if you don’t have anything motivational to say off the top of your head, you can browse the app’s affirmations and find plenty of good ones!

Some of my affirmations include things like:

  • I choose to fill my mind with positive, nurturing, and healing thoughts
  • I choose happiness no matter what the circumstances are
  • I give up being perfect for being authentic
  • I am a good mother

I have also created playlist of my favorite Scriptures that I can listen to – I think this will be really great to listen to first thing in the morning each day! Any verses you all recommend? Many of you may have already responded to my post on Facebook regarding this…

The one downside I have found to this app is that you cannot change the order of the affirmations. You can decide which affirmations go into a specific playlist, but for some reason the order inside that playlist is not flexible. When I added more affirmations, for some reason they went to the beginning of the playlist instead of adding them at the end, (which would be more logical in my opinion). Not a huge deal, but something I am marginally annoyed with.

Overall, this app is great if you’re willing to get the paid version. If you wanted to create your own affirmation tracks and set them to music you probably could, but I like how simple it is to use and that everything is in one place.

More Resources:

I recently came across a blog post talking all about positive affirmations and giving 50 different examples. Here’s the link: https://www.thirteenthoughts.com/50-positive-affirmations-for-more-abundance-happiness-and-success/

Calm is another app I have heard is good – I have not tried it but know a few friends who have recommended it.

If you’re more of a book person, this book was one I read (recommended by my counselor) when I first was looking into the concept of mindfulness.

Thanks for reading.