Oh hi anxiety my old friend, thanks for creeping up again I really appreciate it.
So I’ll set the scene, one day you’re 100% OK, you go about your day-to-day feeling like you can cope with the world, then the next you’re struck down by an impending feeling of doom and even getting out of bed is a struggle.
Well the good news is you’re not alone, according to Anxiety UK ‘more than 1 in 10 people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life.’ However, although that statistic is all good and well, anxiety has the ability to make you feel like you are alone.
This is what I want to focus on. When you’re feeling particularly anxious what do you do?
I’d like to point out at this stage that I’m not an expert and if you are experiencing anxiety and you feel like you can’t cope please seek professional help. I have a helplines page where you can contact multiple organisations.
However what I do bring to the table is, about 22 years of dealing with anxiety, so I’d like to offer some tips.
When we are happy we don’t challenge that emotion, we don’t say “I’m happy, gaaah why do I feel happy? I shouldn’t feel happy!”
Firstly, this is probably the most important point, so if you take away nothing else, please take away this. Accept that you are feeling anxious. Why is it with our mental health that we try and resist it and we don’t accept our feelings? When we are happy we don’t challenge that emotion, we don’t say “I’m happy, gaaah why do I feel happy? I shouldn’t feel happy!” We just accept it and enjoy it for what it’s worth. Granted it’s hard to enjoy an anxious phase, but not resisting it is the first step to managing it. Why not try a sarcastic approach? When I’m going through an anxious phase I just think “here we go again.”
You must also accept that it is only temporary and you will feel OK again, so keep the faith, you’ve got this.
Take time out
Take a day off and don’t feel guilty about it.
Right so you’ve accepted it, what do you do now? You need to take time out. Take a day off and don’t feel guilty about it. If you have a full time job and feel like you need to take more than one day off, go to the doctor and explain how you are feeling, they may be able to sign you off work for a short period of time.
If this is not possible I would suggest talking to your manager at work about how you are feeling, they may let you take more breaks or send you home earlier. Again you need to remember that this is temporary.
You don’t have to cross your legs on the floor and chant “ommmmm”.
When we are anxious our breathing tends to become more shallow and we feel like we can’t take deep breaths into our body. This is because anxious people generally breathe in the upper chest. So take time to practise your breathing.
One easy way of concentrating on your breath is through meditation. For people who have never meditated before you don’t have to cross your legs on the floor and chant “ommmmm”. I definitely wouldn’t recommend meditating on your own without a guide unless you are a pro at it. There are many apps that you can download to help you with meditating. I recommend using an app called Anxiety Relief which is free, but it does include in-app purchases. You can download it on the Apple store or on Android.
Friends have also told me that they like Headspace. Personally that app didn’t work for me, so I didn’t pay for it past the trial, but it might work for you, so why not give it a try.
Next I’d recommend leaving the house. This can feel impossible to do when you’re severely anxious but trust me, you will feel better for it. Go for a walk round the block if that is all feel up to, but breathing in fresh air is important.
If you can I’d recommend a walk on the beach. I am lucky where I live because I am right next to the coast. However if you don’t have that luxury try going for a walk in the woods. Getting out in nature is the perfect way to clear your mind.
When I say exercise, I don’t mean pushing yourself to run a 10k.
This is the hardest one for me to do because I’m not very athletic or sporty, however when I do make myself exercise I reap the rewards and I feel loads better.
When I say exercise, I don’t mean pushing yourself to run a 10k. What I mean is go and do an sport you enjoy. For example, go for a run if you enjoy running. But please don’t go for a run if you don’t enjoy it. I hate running, and I probably always will, so if I went running during an anxious phase, I’d probably make myself feel worse.
What I enjoy doing is yoga. Not only does this help with my breathing, it calms me down. I have only recently started going to weekly classes and I love it! The classes I go to are beautifully lit with candles, incense and fairly lights, which provide a lovely calming ambience.
My point here is that when we exercise endorphins are released in your brain which make you feel better. It is like a natural high, and when you’re anxious you have to get your kicks where you can get them, ey?
I use it as a way to declutter my brain so that I can sleep.
Writing is super helpful for me. Before I go to bed I write in a journal about what is on my mind. I use it as a way to declutter my brain so that I can sleep. You don’t have to write a lot, and it doesn’t have to be seen by anyone, you can just keep it in a diary or journal by your bed. Some people also find writing in the morning helpful.
To conclude, what I’d say about all of these tips, is just give them a go, you have nothing to lose but A LOT to gain.
As always I’m keen to know your top tips. I will write another post which will give you even more suggestions for dealing with your anxiety, but for now I think that is a good start!