Khanyiswa Mogotsi

We are in the first month of the new year and I have already experienced two anxiety attacks and I know for certain that I cannot be the only person with very shaky mental stability this early in the year.

To be fair, this year started with quite a bang with talks of a civil war ready to break out, Kim and Kanye getting ready for a divorce, and me potentially coming out to my parents that the fact that I have only managed two anxiety attacks almost leaves me shocked.

I am not the only person facing so many mental challenges early in the year.

To tackle not allowing your mental health to drag you down at the start of the year, I have a few calming tips and tricks that will get you of your head as soon as it becomes a little too crowded with thoughts.

But before we begin, just a little disclaimer that I only speak for myself and I am not a medical practitioner so I cannot guarantee that these tricks will work for you too, but I am sure there is no harm in learning something new that might come in handy one day.

One of my first favourite things to do when I start to feel anxious is to take a nap as soon as my stomach begins to hurt. Usually, the reason I randomly start to feel anxious is because I am not getting enough sleep.

I have a very crazy sleep schedule so naturally; I do not get my full eight hours of sleep and most times I feel fine but there are some days where lack of sleep leaves me feeling out of control and nervous.

My next anxiety trick includes taking deep breaths and controlling my breathing once I start feeling anxious. As cliché’ as “breathe in and out” may sound while anxious, it really does help make me feel better. Most of the time, the thought of how funny I look controlling my breath and inhaling big gulps of air is what calms me down, instead of the breathing exercise.

If the nap and breathing do not do the trick, I take a short break from whatever I am doing at the time to do something that makes me happy like listening to my favourite song twice, watching two or three TikTok videos, or doing some muscle stretches.

The mild feeling of self-care that this gives me allows me to change my thought process from whatever it is that was freaking me out to reminding myself that I can enjoy my little break and what I choose to do in it because I deserve it.

The best way for me to handle my anxiety is by distracting myself and doing anything else but thinking. I distract myself by listening to music or a podcast. Sometimes, I write out a list of toiletries I need to stock up on. I do anything as long as I am not putting too much stress on my thoughts and triggers.

I say all this to emphasise that it is too early in the year for us to lose control of our mental stability. Although dealing with mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety might feel like the hardest thing to do at times, remind yourself that you have managed to get yourself this far. You can still make it.

Should you feel like your anxiety is too far out of your control or you just want to lower your mental temperature, talk to someone who makes you feel safe. If you can afford it, please seek professional help.