M E N T A L H E A L T H
Tanzina Tabassum Nova, Tasnia Shahrin
What if I start to feel worse? What if they hate my presentation? What if they see me shivering? What if I fail? What if I don’t get a good job?
When such mighty anxiety hits us, we often feel stuck and confused about how to feel better. We often unwillingly do things that somehow fuel greater anxiety, such as hyper focusing on the future, and the what-ifs. So, the question stands — how do regular people, like me and you, deal with their moments of stress and anxiety?
This article holds some such opinions which were gathered from a survey conducted with a few young-adult writers. For the sake of their privacy regarding this sensitive matter, we have decided to keep their identities anonymous. Furthermore, their opinions do not intend to generalise their (or anyone’s) fear, trauma, or phobias.
Sayan’s method is simple: He drowns himself in work during the day and cries at night.
“I don’t know if this can be considered a ‘coping mechanism’, but as someone with low-key social anxiety, specifically getting anxiety in large crowds full of unknown people, the best thing that helps me personally is having a close friend or family member with me.”
She also avoids going to events which she will have to attend alone.
Zarin uses several methods. She takes deep breaths, tries to distract herself with pleasant memories, gives herself pep talks, listens to calming music or sounds, cuddles with her cats, and cries and tries to get over it. She also talks to her friends sometimes, but she says:
“This comes last in my personal list, because I don’t like talking about my emotions.”
Niloy usually turns off everything and enjoys some good music. His new way of coping is watching a documentary on nature while listening to Peter Cat Recording Co. and eating peanut butter and toast.
Sohana often feels sudden outbursts of anxiety, which she deals with in two ways.
“Either I shitpost a lot or I keep all my social media accounts deactivated and then constantly engage myself in things that I love to do: Re-reading favourite books or binge-watching series and sleeping.”
Making extensive lists of everything imaginable helps Tarana cope with her anxiety. In case of persistent anxiety attack for days, she tries to incorporate exercise in her daily routine. Journaling also helps. In her opinion, writing down how she is feeling takes her mind off of it for some reason.
“Scribbling on a paper with crayons or just randomly colouring pages also helps me. I find the process soothing and it calms me down,” she says.
Tarana also re-reads favourite books and re-watches series or movies. Another method she applies is uninstalling social media apps.
Fariha thinks her overthinking works as a coping mechanism sometimes, which is distracting and calming. She also gives herself elaborate pep talks. Rewatching random episodes of old shows and making lists are helpful, too. She says:
“I include some smaller things to check off the list alongside pending work so that I can start checking things off quickly even if I don’t reach the end of it.”
She often shuts down and finds it difficult to reach out to people. Sometimes, she sends texts to a person who would understand and won’t judge her.
Freya reads a lot of books to keep herself distracted when she is anxious. She also stops talking to her friends and connects more with her family, which feels safe and calming. Giving herself treats, visiting random places, and spending time by herself also help. Rewatching old crime-thriller movies are helpful, too. Some things that work for many people don’t work for Freya.
“At this time, people will suggest that you pray regularly, I did/do that too, but I don’t know why it never worked for me. I become sadder. And music doesn’t help me either — I get more emotional.”
Rewatching easily digestible and upbeat TV shows like Friends or Brooklyn Nine-Nine, full volume indie rock and dancing alone in her room, reading mythological books that are far from reality, playing games like Valorant or Minecraft — these are Kashfi’s coping mechanisms.
Some of Sounak’s methods include: Taking three deep breaths, rewatching clips of sitcoms on YouTube, trying to study new topics, following a pattern of stress-relieving exercises, learning new recipes, listening to indie music, giving himself pep talks, getting into Bangla literature, praying, reciting the Qu’ran. He also shares an interesting opinion —
“Whatever it is you are looking for to cope with anxiety, it’s definitely a distraction/diversion, one way or another.”
Ruhi has been “trying to do this one thing for the last couple of years. Like, instead of trying to make my sadness or anxiety go away, I just accept it’s happening to me and just be sad for a while.” She still does the necessary things, but on a smaller scale. She takes short breaks, does nothing, stares at the ceiling, or watches short videos on YouTube.
Having severe anxiety problems that lead to her having severe breathing problems sometimes, Sneha has tried to find coping mechanisms. Firstly, she just tries to leave things for some time. Sometimes, she sits under her shower head and cries. To keep herself relaxed, she listens to Lana Del Rey, does calligraphy, or plays the piano. Another thing she mentions is praying and crying on the prayer mat, which she feels helps immensely.
Rupam does not really feel anxious. However, when he starts thinking about something, he keeps thinking and thinking unless he expresses it somehow. Therefore, he rants or writes about it, or watches sitcoms to distract himself.
Ratul’s coping mechanisms include listening to songs on repeat, reading thrillers, trying to accept that he can’t change the outcome, trying to distract himself, and playing video games.
Neera does not get anxiety attacks, but she feels low at times. When she does, she just switches all her devices off and, after making her room as dark as possible, she sleeps. She feels better after waking up.
As she is pessimistic and well aware of her boundaries, anxiety isn’t a day-to-day issue for Jafrin.
“I just calculate the minimum outcome of everything and stay indifferent when things are in no way under my control. I am not a hedonistic and hopeful person, and I don’t want to become one; the concept of eudaimonia seems utopian to me.”
Some dependable coping mechanisms for Tias are spending time with family and friends, music, dancing, cooking, painting, listing down things, crying and ranting or shutting down completely, praying, and spending time in nature. One interesting thing he does is talk to strangers as they won’t judge him based on his past. He says it makes him rethink his perception and offers a new way for him to look at things.
Ira just tries to keep herself busy and not think about it too much. If it’s bad, she gives herself a break and reads books or watches movies or series. Sometimes, she cries in the bathroom. Other times, she rants to her mother.
To conclude, according to BBC News Bangla, 1 out of 10 people experience some kind of anxiety or phobia at some point in their lives. As it is normal to face some anxiety or fear in our daily lives, self-care is the first necessary step that we should take. On that account, we hope that the coping mechanisms discussed here will help our readers to try and figure out works for them.
However, we are not professionals, and the techniques described here are mostly anecdotal. Everyone experiences anxiety differently, so not all of these tips might work for you. Therefore, when things are unmanageable, you should definitely seek professional help.
Tasnia is a proud Slytherin who loves binging on poetry and graphic novels in her free time.
Tanzina Tabassum Nova is a full-time couch-potato, and a part-time reader, writer, translator, and reciter.