There was a time when even the simplest of tasks caused my chest to tighten and palms to sweat. The sheer level of anxiety I felt over everything was exhausting. It took me several years to learn the pattern of my anxiety, the waves that had me feeling on top of the world one moment and at the end of my rope in the next.
Too often in the past, I allowed my anxiety to rule my life and steal moments and opportunities from me. These days I am more aware of my anxiety and the fact that what I am feeling is anxiety. It also became a lot easier once the people around me also became aware of my anxiety too. I’m not sure where the turning point was, but somewhere along the line, I think those around me realised I wasn’t missing out on life because I was lazy but because I was afraid!
But being aware of anxiety is only the first step in dealing with the problem. The next step is finding ways and methods of handling it so that is doesn’t handle you! Today I am going to share five methods I have learnt over the years that I find actually help my anxiety.
#5 – Talk it out! – I know this is the most cliche method of dealing with anxiety and depression, but it really does work so it has made it to my list. However, it isn’t my initial go-to solution, which is why it is number 5. When I say talk it out, I don’t necessarily mean with a therapist, if you find therapy works for you and you can afford it, keep on going! The talking cure is a well-proven way of dealing with mental health. However, if you don’t want to go to a therapist this method can still work for you, all you need is to find someone you feel comfortable with who is willing to listen to you.
For me, I have two people. My mother is always there to listen to me rant and get things off my chest, but having never suffered from mental health problems herself there is only so much she can understand. Which is why I have my second person. My best friend is my rock, (literally, the amount I mention him on this blog I should give him his own section!) I had a breakdown in 2018 and he was the first person I went too. When life is feeling too much, I know I can call him and just cry it out and he will listen and look after me.
Find yourself someone, or a few people, who will listen to your worries and help you through them. Mental health is not a journey that must be travelled alone. In fact, it’s generally better to find someone to walk the long road with you.
#4 – Meditation – Before you roll your eyes, hear me out. Meditation doesn’t need to be sitting cross-legged in silence with your fingers pinched. Unless that works for you! Silent reflection is some people’s jam. For me, however, I prefer to have something in my ears. On days where I feel particularly overwhelmed by people in general, I like to shut myself in my room, put my headphones on and close my eyes. Sometimes I sit and think over things quietly in my own head, taking a moment to stop and actually think about a situation. Other times I just sit and listen to music, maybe let my imagination wander and spend some time in my ‘mind palace.’
This is especially effective if you are an introverted personality. Taking a moment to yourself to recharge and just be alone with your own thoughts and no outward distractions can be just what the doctor ordered! I take an hour before bed most evenings to do this so that when I do actually want to go to sleep, my mind is not overflowing with thoughts.
#3 – Get physical – I would love to be one of those people who goes to the gym on a regular basis, but alas I am not. I cannot stand the gym. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t get my endorphins going in other ways. If you’re like me and you’re not really a hard workout kind of person some of these might be a little more your cup of tea. I like to go for a long walk (sometimes with my dogs, other times just by myself with my headphones), I’m lucky that I live in a place that is surrounded by woodland, so there are many beautiful walks to choose from. If I am feeling particularly athletic I may also go for a jog (but let’s face it, that doesn’t happen particularly often!). I have also recently started doing yoga again (blog post to come), I find yoga so calming that it doesn’t feel like exercise! When it comes to getting some movement into my day, I sometimes find it easier to go along to a class rather than hold myself to doing something at home. I am personally a fan of Zumba, which is a combination of latin dances made into a workout. Very fun!
Making your body a little tired and out of breath, every day will pump the endorphins, which is a hormone which basically makes you feel happy and good! You’ll likely find that little by little it takes a more to get yourself out of breath and before you know it you’re doing a full workout and your body will be flying with endorphins!
#2 -CBD – I’ve had a few people freak out when I’ve mentioned that I take CBD. Especially when I explain that its essentially cannabis oil. But the important thing to remember is that you cannot get high from taking CBD, no matter how much you take. Although made from the same plant as weed, it is made differently and therefore has different properties (it’s also completely legal in the UK). It relaxes the body without affecting the mind. After going through a period of having multiple panic and anxiety attacks every day, I was willing to try anything even if it meant taking up vaping. I have been using my CBD vape for a few weeks now and it really does make a difference. I don’t smoke it all the time, I only use it when I’m in a situation where I need to remain in control but I feel a panic attack coming on (generally at work). It helps fight off the attack and allows me to keep my cool. I also use it if I am about to go into a situation that I know sets off my anxiety, such as events with lots of people. My social anxiety has become a lot better over the years but it’s still a problem when I initially get somewhere and I have that period of climatisation to feel safe. The CBD takes the edge off my anxiety so I am able to go straight in and see everything for what it really is, rather than through the veil of panic my anxiety caused.
If you are thinking about trying CBD please do your research beforehand as there are a lot of different types and concentrations and I have noticed that a lot of vape stores that sell it don’t actually have a clue about what they are selling. Do your research, know your stuff and enjoy.
#1 – Do What You Love – One of my greatest fears is getting to the end of my life and realising I haven’t lived my life how I wanted to. It genuinely makes me sad when people give up their dreams so they can fit into the role society says they should follow. College, job, house, marriage, kids, work, work, work, die. That process is surviving, not living! Is it really any wonder that mental health problems are on the rise? The greatest thing I have found that helps my anxiety is doing what I love. I write. I write at every spare opportunity I get. I don’t get paid to do it, I don’t get any particular reward from it other than the joy it brings me.
Find something you enjoy, something that brings you happiness and do it simply because you can. There doesn’t have to be a goal or target or a reward. Somethings you can do just because it makes you happy and it is good for your mental health. My mother enjoys walking her dogs, my sister enjoys baking, my brother plays rugby. Don’t allow work to become the only thing you live for. Work is a means to live, passion is a reason to live.
I hope some of these points were helpful. Please let me know in the comments if you have other ways that you handle your own anxiety!