‘Categories’ is a great way to help reduce anxiety. Though the mental exercise is not going to completely eradicate your anxiety, it will definitely help if you practice the exercise frequently.
It’s a really simple technique to remember when anxiety strikes. Essentially you are just naming as much of a topic as you can.
HOW ‘CATEGORIES’ WORKS
Ideally, you want to pick three or more topics as your go to. Personally I choose films, television shows and album titles. Sometimes I even switch it up and throw some other things in there like Country names, famous people – you get the idea.
Pick three that you can easily remember as a starting point.
So what does the exercise entail? It’s very simple, you just name as many things within the chosen topic as possible.
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I changed it up a little with mine, and I go A through to Z in my mind with my chosen topics.
Sometimes when I am feeling especially overwhelmed, I tend to jot down my answers into my journal. I do this so I can go back and look at days where I have been especially anxious or down and see how far I’ve come. This is one of the reasons it is a great way to help reduce anxiety.
It’s really important that you are kind to yourself. You’re going to have bad days now and then, and that is perfectly okay. It’s how you cope with them that matter most.
When I first started doing this exercise, I thought it was a complete waste of time. “What is the point of this?”, I often thought to myself.
What you are doing is getting your mind off of the anxious thoughts and onto something else. By forcing your brain to think about something else, your anxiety should start to quiet down.
WILL IT WORK FOR ME?
I can say that it works for me, and I continue to do this every now and then when I feel like my anxiety is starting to flare up.
It is in no means a magical cure to stop anxiety all together, but it does help you to ground yourself in the present moment and take your mind away from your current worries or fears.
Eventually you will start to learn your triggers, and when to do certain things or exercises that will help to gradually alleviate your symptoms.
Keeping in mind I am not a mental health professional, I am just sharing my experiences and what I have learned along the way with my own anxiety and depression.
WHEN TO SEEK MEDICAL TREATMENT
If your anxiety or depression is getting in the way of leading a healthy lifestyle, you should really see your Doctor.
It might seem scary, but believe me when I say, it was the best thing I ever did. I wasn’t going to cope by just doing cognitive exercises, I needed medication.
It was just extremely difficult for me to accept I needed to take medication being as it was one of my greatest fears of taking medication and my possible reactions to them.
I’ve been there, I know how scary and overwhelming it is. But I’m living proof that it can, and will get better.
I believe in you. You got this. Be kind to yourself as you learn to navigate living with anxiety.
Just know there is help out there and others that experience the same feelings as you.
You got this!
If you or anyone you know is experiencing distress you can reach out to Beyond Blue: Beyond Blue’s support line is available 24/7.
Lifeline: For crisis support, Lifeline provides a 24/7 line, as well as online resources on a range of issues.