How do you cope with anxiety?

This is an open thread to talk about how you cope with generalized anxiety.  I’m one of those people who is anxious about everything all the time.  But when business is good (like before 2008!) I keep myself busy so the anxiety has an outlet and I’m able to cope.  These days business is slow as molasses and I obsess so much I think I’m going nuts.

Here’s what I’ve been doing but it doesn’t seem to work anymore:

– I take Ativan and Remeron every day.  It helps but not as much as it used to.

– I play games on my Playbook at bedtime.

– I watch taped TV shows (I’m now having nightmares about things I see in the shows!)

– I often watch Fox News hoping all the people responsible for FATCA get voted out of office (yes I live in a fantasy world).

Some people drink to relax but that’s not an option for me, I’d turn it into an olympic sport.

Little things can help some people to cope with anxiety.  What do you do that helps?


30 thoughts on “How do you cope with anxiety?

  1. Anxiety is no fun and can be debilitating (I know). Try a physical activity that will literally exhaust you. I do running. It clears one’s mind and has a nice endorphin after-drip. Try it – it works!

  2. Great idea to begin this thread, OMG.

    Here are my coping strategies: Spend time with friends who will NOT let me mention IRS anymore. See a great movie (Yesterday it was The Very Exotic Marigold Hotel), Drink mint refresher tea. Do NOT Brock Around The Clock. Read a good book. Sleep–by telling myself worrying about it isn’t going to make it go away.

  3. Thanks Horace. One of the side effects of taking Remeron is that you get fat. It makes you want to eat everything in sight. So now I’m going on a healthier food diet, eating tons of fruits and vegetables.

    We live in a nature area and now that the weather is nicer I’m going to take your advice. My husband and I will start going for really long walks in the woods. Nice to know that wearing yourself out works — I’ll definitely try that.

  4. Good idea OMG

    My main coping strategy is walking. I try to walk 2 to 2 1/2 hours per day. Of course, in Vancouver that usually means GORTEX. When I don’t have the time to do it, I have trouble sleeping.

    Also, like Blaze, I try to spend time with friends who do not have ‘an American connection’. And of course, there is time with family; it also helps. And then there is always a glass of wine – it helps too; I restrict it to a weekend or I fear with all the anxiety of FATCA, I could become a lush.

  5. I think most of us feel as though we’re under attack by a foreign government, so it’s good to have an outlet where we can use our efforts to effect change. It’s satisfying that we seen signs of progress through our efforts. That encourages hope, an important ingredient for mental health. I also have been enjoying gardening.

  6. I dealt with stess by eating, definitely not a lettuce person. Needed a new coping method when I began the renunciation process and getting compliant with US taxes.

    1. revised my diet, and went vegetarian.

    2. purchased a good pedometer, and restarted the 10,000 step program, somewhat more the 7 km, about 2 hours and 15 minutes a day.

    it has been 3 months, lost more than 20 lbs from my stress induced peak, feel great and sleep much better, since these changes

    hope this helps someone cope,

  7. @all, I have to be the worst worrier in the world,I have always been a worry wart.. Ask Blaze, she knows first hand, she crowned me Queen of the Worrier’s (note the crown) I really have not found anything that makes the anxiety or stress any better.
    I have had alot of shortness of breath and chest pains as well. I take a sleeping pill to sleep and during the day all I do is eat and pace the floor.. I am so thankful for all my IBS friends, it would be great if we lived closer so we could go out and a glass of wine together. Or maybe a few bottles.LOL

  8. Very few people, if they are not directly involved, don’t want to talk about Americans Abroad and the demands placed on them. I suspect the same happens with the media. I am impressed that even places like Democrats Abroad or Americans Abroad don’t talk about the subject, I don’t understand why. So… who is left? Us here, ACA and AARO. The politicians could care less. I don’t think they even know that we exist, Sorry to say but…FBARS and FATCA will become the law of the land and we will have to do whatever they decide that we should do if we want to remain Americans. So…relax and enjoy it.

  9. I eat, I comment and I blog. I’ve become relatively adept at pushing it out of my mind when I go to bed (always with a book). However, during the days & evenings, it’s always circulating in the back of my mind. I can come back from a walk with the dogs with something I want to research, or the start of a new blog or comment. I don’t discuss it anymore with my husband (or only on rare occasion) because it gets us both riled up and then the book in bed routine doesn’t work. Lately, I’ve started to somewhat get my sense of humour back about it, mainly due to this place, I think. Now that I can laugh a bit, I find my anxiety has lessened.

  10. My husband, who is the American not me, never talks about this stuff ever. Must be nice. He says he stopped being an American when he became Canadian in 1980 and that’s the end of that.

  11. I watch an old movie from Hollywood’s Golden Age with a bourbon-and-water chaser and proceed to get utterly “lost” somewhere in 1939.

  12. @petros, doesn’t make you dizzy?
    Oh yeah, this predicament has given me a chance to develop a sardonic sense of humour. Sorry to make you all my victims.

  13. Like many of you, I try to get exercise. Walking and gardening does it for me. But it also helps to pick up a new interest. In my case, that has been learning a musical instrument. Practicing leaves no room for worry, and the effect lingers on to some extent.

  14. @OMG You are right Remeron is notoriously bad for weight gain. There are other antidepressants that are not as bad in terms of weigh gain – you could talk to your doctor about other options. My suggestion is control what you can – eat well and exercise regularly. Try to get enough sleep. Deep breathing can be helpful. Trying to do more with your life than only focusing on the IRS boogeyman will hopefully decrease your stress. I know that this is easier said than done as I spend way too much time on the computer myself. Time to get back to reading a good book!

  15. @Dianne, I’m terrified of taking any other antidepressant besides Remeron. It’s the only one that has actually worked. I’ve been on at least 3 other antidepressants in the past that almost killed me. Most of them kept me awake for 3 to 4 days straight! Remeron does help to get to sleep and works even better at relieving anxiety than Ativan.

    I’ve only gained about 15 pounds in the last year and I’m confident I can lose the weight by changing my diet and exercising.

    I’ve never had trouble with my weight until now. At first I thought it was amusing how much I could eat but then I got so fat my skin hurt. Time for a change in eating habits. I’m doing the Fit for Life diet.

  16. I’m very susceptible to anxiety. Here’s what I use to cope. Mindfulness meditation, easy to master and low stress. A glass of scotch in the evenings. Dark chocolate. Don’t watch TV news at all or any current affairs program (especially one with any politician in it — my outrageometer pegs at eleven at the very sight of pretty well all of them these days!). Don’t read newspapers. Dark chocolate. Restrict news to only two or three minute radio bulletins once or twice a day. Get outdoors as much as possible for natural light. Fresh fruits and vegetables. Dark chocolate. Regular bedtime, regular alarm time. Stay connected with folk in the same situation, to avoid feeling isolated. Take action to get out of the anxiety-creating situation. Oh, and dark chocolate, 75%+ cocoa.

  17. Mine:

    Listening to CKUA’s music radio in Alberta (on most of the time); no TV; reading, although light novels put me to sleep; gardening; walking almost everywhere I need to go — it helps to live in the inner city; and, the thing that gets my mind most off of my own problems is volunteering one-on-one once a week with someone whose needs put mine into perspective.

    I’m also looking forward to a couple of good old folk festivals — people watching, music listening and thinking the whole world needs a good folk fest. (Then, I have the normal day-to-day family concerns with my and my husband’s kids that have to be dealt with, so my time is, healthfully, part-time for Isaac Brock.)

    All in all, I’m doing much better with all this than I used to — thanks to everyone here — and that is an understatement.

  18. Let me add…I came to Canada more than 40 years ago, after a felony indictment for refusing to go into the military. For a middle class kid from the suburbs, it was traumatic. I am now a Canadian citizen, and as far as I am concerned, that is all I am. (I think I have legal grounds to challenge any claim upon me by the US.) Anyway, being terrorized by the US government is something familiar to me and has marked my relation with the country for most of my life. This, in a sense, is nothing new. It is the nightmare returned.

  19. I was pretty tightly wound about the whole thing last August. “You weren’t that hard to get along with, my wife said later, “except that whatever question I asked you, the answer was about American taxes.”

    I relaxed after the CRA said it wouldn’t collect FBAR penalties, and started seeing the whole thing as a boring but manageable problem, with an end date.

  20. Walking, biking, gardening, cuddles with the neighbourhood therapy cat … and strangely enough Gregorian chants (I’m not of any official religious persuasion).

  21. Recently, my married daughter coerced me into taking an 8 week course called MBSR-Mindfulness-based stress reduction. According to her, I am a changed person, even when in the middle of chaos! It incorporates meditation, yoga, and “being present in the moment.

  22. I was on the verge of a breakdown last year when I first discovered the horror…I could barely sleep or eat for three months. I would pace the floor, search the internet about the topic and probably drive everyone mad with my obsessive worrying.

    I lost around 20 lbs and I actually felt ten years younger, probably fron all the adenaline. I sensed a spiritual awakening from my crisis and sensed deep empathy from others which was very healing.
    My husband and mother have both been supportive and patient for which I’m grateful.

    I no longer feel so desperately frightened though I have learned to live with a low-grade but continual worry. Neverthless, life has to carry on. I realise it will be several years before the statutes of limitations have fully run but have to quit dwelling on it so much because it’s out of my control.

    I just have to have faith that sometimes we have to go through tough times to grow spiritually. Have faith that things will turn out for the best.

    I am now more frustrated than scared because I’m concerned that my accountant may take advantage of my vulnerability and overcharge me. I just can’t wait to get all this behind me…will just have to be patient and realise that the worst of it should be over by the end of next year, at least in terms of the high tax bills and accounting costs….just have to accept that it’s a process that’s cost me a lot of money and lcu’s but that life will carry on regardless.

    I do a lot of walking and cycling plus hanging with good mates. Having a drink, etc. can really help me relax too, as does music. Our church has also been very good with pastoral support so have thankfully been able to stay off antidepresants.

    I realise that life can be hard and that everyone has crosses to bear but that it’s good to count one’s blessings regardless and to see humour too.

    You all have been wonderful too. 🙂

  23. I also just wanted to say that I’ve concluded that life is not always fair but I can’t bitterness destroy me. It’s been a major shock and setback but it’s also forced me to lower my expectations which could ironically enable me to learn to be more easily content with my lot. I’m becoming less money-driven simply because I now realise that early retirement will no longer be possible but can learn to enjoy living day-to-day instead of being so myopically focussed on financial goals. Perhaps a bit of cynicism is thus a healthy thing.

  24. Cecelia – my doctor has recommended mindfulness based stress reduction. Are you in Toronto, by any chance? Is there a place you recommend?

  25. @TooMuchCoffee: I took the course in Calgary. Website for that course was Maybe you could e-mail there and ask for a Toronto recommendation There are also free “downloads” on that website. The course started in the 90s. Based on the book Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness, by Jon Kabat-Zinn. Definitely worth buying the book. It explains it all in the book.

  26. Anxiety is a family trait, from my mother’s side, and she has had a hard time coping with it all her life, in spite of her very religious life style and many prayers for deliverance from worry and anxiety. After 85 years, I do see that prayer doesn’t seem to work! 🙂

    Fortunately for me, anxiety is an annoyance, but not debilitating, and when I see my mother get all anxious or worried over nothing it is frustrating that she hasn’t learned any coping mechanisms for all those years of hers. Maybe when you believe that God is supposed to take these burdens away, you don’t put enough effort into self help. Don’t know how else to explain it.

    Strangely, knowing that anxiety is a genetic trait helps me deal the occasional surges of it that I might get. I am good at rationalization and distraction when I feel it coming on. I just figure that the DNA is switching on some hormones and making mischief, and this too will pass, just like a head ache.

    For self help, I find something of interest to distract me until the anxiety subsides. Exercise helps, but generally too boring unless I have mental stimulation like my MP3. I usually prefer some “man cave” activity in the garage, or working on the house, with my MP3 player engaged, listening to NPR or PRI podcasts that interest me, like Planet Money, Radio Lab, To the Point, FreshAir, Market Place, Wait Wait don’t tell me, Car Talk, This American Life, Wire Tap, etc. I prefer intellectually stimulating talk or entertainment to music, but I suppose music would work, it is just that I just rarely bother. When I get immersed in a good story or discussion, the anxiety disappears, and once gone it stays away for quite a while.

    BTW, Brocking around the clock is a good distraction for me, and it doesn’t create extra anxiety, but then, I paid dearly to end my OVDP anxiety, so don’t face some of the same situations that others do. I do empathize with you. Wished you guys had been around when I was going through that! Seems a distant misery now. To have some where to write about it, and possibly help others with the struggle has been a good post OVDP release for me, so appreciate that you all created this blog.

  27. I had a breakdown similar to Monalisa’s when I found out about all this. I, too, lost about 20 lbs from not being able to eat. Unfortunately, I’ve gained about 30 lbs since I started taking Effexor. 😦 The upside is that the Effexor worked wonders and I am no longer anxious about all this (just angry). I also take a spinning class at the gym 2-3 times a week, geocache, and play World of Warcraft, and work a lot. Keeps my mind off the IRS and eating. 🙂

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