One of the best ways I have found that helps me with a severe anxiety attack is to research something new for a blog post. The act of using the rational side of my brain calms down the running thoughts. I will fill my mind with new information so that it gets filled up to the point where there is no room for anything else.
The next thing I do is to organize the information into categories or by main ideas and secondary ideas. Personally I like to begin reading and organizing from main ideas to details. But some people prefer looking at details first and then the big picture.
The very act of sorting and organizing information activated a completely different part of the brain from the anxiety center. The amygdala rules the fight or flight response. It is very primitive and is sort of the opposite of rational thoughts. Once you go into the rational and analytical side of your brain, you will find that the amygdala gets quieter, at least I do.
You would be best to do research on something that is very interesting to you and will draw you in. You want to get completely drawn into the subject matter you are researching.
There are two basic learning styles and if you can identify your style, you will be able to approach your research in the way that works best for you. The two learning styles are Analytical Learner and Global Learner.
AN ANALYTIC LEARNER…
Analytical Learners are tuned into details. They love reading the details of things and get caught up in them. If you are an Analytical Learner then you will find your topic and delve into reading all kinds of details about it.
Go for it and have fun with it. The more engrossed and interested you become in your topic, the more you will find your anxiety level going down.
Analytical Learners usually like to complete the task they are working on before starting another one. They enjoy being engaged with all the small details of the task or project. They work best without distractions. Another typical trait is that they need the project or activity to be relevant to them in order to focus well on it.
A GLOBAL LEARNER…
- Global Learners need to see the big picture before they can focus on details. This is my learning style and my method of researching a topic is general to specific. I may look at 3 or 4 web sites about the topic to get a better idea about it in general. Then I will write the beginning part of my post. After that I will get to the details and the examples and then organize them and decide where to put them in what I am writing.
- Global learners have a tendency to procrastinate on getting to things on their to-do list. We also will start things and leave them unfinished and then go onto the next thing.
- I actually tend to have 4 or 5 posts saved into drafts that are 3/4 finished. There are 3 sitting in my drafts right now.I have enough of working on a particular post and then I save what I have so far. I start another one. When I feel so moved, I go back to one of the drafts and complete it.
- I like the feeling of having multiple projects going at the same time.
Whatever your learning style, the point is to proactively use the researching process to reduce your anxiety attack. I have come home from work in an extreme state of anxiety and sat down to find a topic to research and learn about. As I am opening tabs and looking at different articles, Wikipedia, etc, I begin to get involved in the thinking process.
Then I work on writing about the main idea and putting it into my own words. Once i get into the details and examples, I a, usually busy enough that there is little room left in my brain for the running thoughts. Sometimes when the anxiety goes down, I just save the draft and do go and do something other activity, like talk on the phone or watch Netflix.
I can open the draft tomorrow when I need to calm my anxiety. Sometimes I go back and forth between things I am writing but I usually focus on one for the evening.Of all the methods I have tried for lowering my anxiety attacks, the learning, researching and writing method had been the most helpful to me.
Of course this is only helpful when I am home and with my computer. In a pinch, I can grab a magazine and look through the articles to see if anything is interesting that I might use as an idea to write about later.
This post will be more helpful to some people than others. i used my usual method of looking through topics to pick one, then researching the general topic and getting to the details and personal examples last.
I throw in the personal examples in order to make the post more relatable to you. That is not the most de-stressing part of my writing. In fact I sometimes feel my anxiety creeping back up, as I am putting personal examples for you.
It is in the detaching from my current situation that I find anxiety lowering. By the time I get around to telling you about my personal experiences, I am no longer in the research and learning mode.
Everyone is different and you may find that the telling of your personal experiences helps you to reduce anxiety. Whatever works for you is the right way!
Happy blogging 🙂