Last week I had another conversation that revolved around my friend Jenn talking to me for an hour or so to distract me from my anxiety. She’s damn good at it, and during the talk we discussed our favorite methods of coping when life becomes overwhelming. My strategy is to focus on the concrete tasks ahead of us (and there are a lot) and when I’m not doing those things, to distract myself with an engaging, absorbing or soothing activity. If I were to let it, this anxiety about our hugely uncertain future and the current state of things would simply eat me alive.
I want to be a person who struggles with anxiety, not a ball of anxiety who sometimes functions as a person.
We all have our things that serve to soothe us in troubled times. Here are some of the things I like to do to distract myself from the at times sheer terror of existence:
- One of the most calming things I like to do in the kitchen is make a big pot of soup or chili. Just the exercise of putting all ingredients together is extremely soothing, but then you have the aroma and the actual belly-filling meal it provides. Lately I’ve realized that I fall back on the tendency to make risotto as well, because blanketing your problems with a hefty amount of butter and cheese softens just about any blow.
- There are times when I’m not looking for the distraction of chopping and I just need to get right to the soul-soothing activity of eating something rich and decadent and out of my normal scope. If these are the times that try humanity’s soul then only eating an entire wheel of brie will do. Most often I’ll bake it and top with with something sweet and dip crusty hunks of fresh, rustic bread straight into it – a lazy, yet still very satisfying, form of fondue.
- Thrifting is retail therapy I can actually afford, and I never return from a trip without some new idea or inspiration, so the stress-reducing benefits last even after I’ve left the store.
- Working on a project that absorbs my attention can be the best distraction of all because it both engages my mind and results in a finished product. That’s one of the reasons why I love blogging: I can spend much of my time focusing on Isobel and the day-to-day tasks around the house while still feeling like a productive, creative person who nurtures her own pursuits and passions. For Anthony the project is usually D&D related, though he has also busied himself with sword-making and creating his own card game.
- I’d like to say that I’ve been faithful to the elliptical and working out in general, but this is not entirely true. I’m working out as much as I can, but I’ve been having an unpleasant Crohn’s flare so my exercise has been intermittent. Occasionally I’ve been able to manage small family walks in picturesque places, and although I doubt I’ve been getting physical health benefits from this it does lower my stress and anxiety. Isobel loves going on walks. My friend Angela and her family have been going on regular bike rides in the evening, which I’d love to do some day.
- I’m an incurable escapist, and when I’m really feeling like the world is closing in I like to grab take-out, wrap myself up in blankets, and loose entire evenings in a good video game, movie, television series, or book. Fantasy of any form, is the best, and I will gladly solve a character’s fictional problems for a few hours just to enjoy not thinking about my own.
What about you? What do you do to distract yourself from anxiety, or to soothe your stress?