Best ways to combat the monster that is anxiety

Anxiety affects many people in this world. In fact, over 30% of adults in America experience anxiety disorders at some point in their life. Everyone experiences different types of anxiety; some have it all the time, and some only have it in moments of pressure. No matter what, it is beneficial for everyone to have some tips and tricks to combat both chronic and acute anxiety.
One of the scariest things about having anxiety is the anxiety attacks. The feeling of not being able to breathe is a very common factor. I personally get very breathless and feel as though everyone is looking at me. The anxiety attacks, when they come, are horrible and tend to drain energy. When I feel an attack incoming, my strategy is to remove myself from that environment. I put on music (would recommend noise-canceling headphones for those who struggle with noise), as I have a panic attack/anxiety attack playlist that I play to calm myself down. I also leave to find someone I trust, if permitted. I either talk to my counselor or call my dad. A trusted adult can always provide a sense of control.
Another problem is the constant anxiety. I can’t sit with my back to a large portion of a restaurant because then I can’t see everything that is going on. At any time, I also have anxiety simmering under my skin. I’ve gotten used to it now, but at first, it was terrifying. It only really came into my attention when I moved to North Dakota. I was in 8th grade and didn’t know anyone, so the change was really scary. Then the anxiety got much worse before I addressed the issue and now have it under control.
Trying to cope with it can be difficult, but I have some experience. Having another world in your head can help immensely, as well as learning how to breathe deeply enough to be calm. Normally, people telling me to ‘just breathe’ can be irritating, but breathing can genuinely help. When trying to focus on breathing deeply, it takes away from the focus on what is stressing you out. Again, music has been so beneficial in this way; I focus on the lyrics instead of the stress. Your mind is the main enemy when it comes to anxiety, and distracting it can be the difference between calm and panic.
Another type of anxiety is the last-minute panic before a speech. Talking in front of people can be terrifying, especially when you stutter or have trouble looking people in the eye. A lot of speeches are graded based on how many filler words used, eye contact made, and volume. Trying to perfect all of that while thinking about what others think is next to impossible.
The strategy I learned a while ago when speeches became more and more common in high school, was to pretend everyone is your friend. Everyone in the room thinks you are the best person in the world. False confidence can take you just as far as real confidence, at least to others. If you fake it well enough, no one will know it’s fake. Another tip is practicing as much as you can, making it sound as natural as you can while also putting more of the speech in your memory. Scrambling to find your place in notecards is never a fun experience.
Big tests can be a stressor as well. Going into something that impacts your grade in a big way can feel like doomsday– more so when you’re an academic overachiever like myself. Worrying about time and scores can bring down said scores. A lot of testing is critical thinking and focus, and again, anxiety takes up a lot of brainpower.
My best advice is to study when you can or ask for an overall study guide that you can use to refresh your memory. Another tip is to do something you enjoy the night beforehand and ease your stress about things. If you need to take a bubble bath or read a book, either way, get relaxed so that you sleep well and have less stress for the next day. While grades are important, they aren’t the end-all-be-all in life. If you get a C on your test, that doesn’t mean you can’t have the future you want to have.
Anxiety can be horrible and can ruin your day. The best thing you can do is pick yourself up and un-ruin the day, building back the blocks that anxiety destroyed.