Anxiety, especially when it’s extreme, can be one of the cruellest emotions we can feel. It’s endless, tortuous and can stop you from living your life to the fullest.
I’ve definitely had my fill of anxiety and still struggle with it to this day, but along the rather bumpy path I’ve learnt a few tricks to the trade that might help you guys out.
So basically, I’m here to help 🙂
Here is my bag of tricks to fight the battle..
- Occupy your mind.
The most painful thing about anxiety is that it tends to have an all-consuming nature. When it’s there it’s THERE and it becomes difficult to focus on anything else.
This is why it’s important to get up and do something that requires enough thought to get that annoying voice in your head off your back and stop those fingers from tapping away.
This can be anything that involves physical and mental attention, but here are a few of the things that tend to help me out:
Make your bed and/or tidy your room.
Studies have proved that making your bed in the morning and having a clean room – along with the task of cleaning itself – can have an amazingly positive affect on mental health, in particular depression and anxiety.
One researcher, after observing that people with anxiety focused on smaller details and cleaned them with greater care, noted that the reason cleaning is such a relaxing task for those with poor mental health is because it gives them a sense of control at times when they are otherwise feeling unsettled.
Getting into the routine every morning of getting up and making your bed will not only help you get out of bed but will wake you up and calm your anxiety to get your day off to a relaxed start.
Draw a picture.
It doesn’t matter if you think you’re rubbish at art, you don’t have to show anyone. I have never found a technique for calming my anxiety better than sitting down and practising my sketching.
As soon as I sit down, put on some music and start drawing, everything I was worrying about before and any feelings of anxiety completely disappear. And the great thing is, the relaxed feeling lasts after I’ve finished drawing! For at least a couple of hours my anxiety is hardly there at all and I can actually relax, get to sleep, etc.
Read a book.
If you’re reading a book you really enjoy then you can become completely immersed in the story and leave your own reality behind.
Even if it’s only for an hour, this can be a huge relief if you’re feeling really overwhelmed and anxious. Afterwards, the anxiety will have faded and you can re-evaluate everything with a fresh perspective.
This may seem like a weird one to suggest, but I promise you guys it works. Recently I’ve been super anxious with having to sort out dropping out of my university and I have baked or cooked almost every day; for those few hours my anxiety disappears with me having to concentrate on the recipe and what to do next. It’s amazing and super fun as well – your family will love it as well lol
Don’t panic, it doesn’t have to be anything crazy and you don’t have to be the greatest athlete of all time.
Going for a run, or even just a walk with your dog, will seriously help cool down those anxious feelings and will give you a breath of fresh air.
The NHS page on this says that there is a proven link between being physically active and having good mental health, helping alleviate mild depression and acting as protection against anxiety, due to actual chemical changes in the brain! It improves your self-esteem, self-control and gives you a sense that you have the ability to rise to a challenge.
3. Put aside time for meditation/relaxation
I’m aware that a lot of people take the piss out of meditation and all that candles and incense stuff, but you don’t have to be that extra about it if you don’t want to ( if you do, then do it hun, burn that incense and sing those ohms ).
By mediation I simply mean take the time to put on some relaxing music (or podcast) – whether it’s classical music, spa music, etc – and just sit back and chill out for a bit. Take a bath, lie on a couch and close your eyes, or find somewhere quiet outside and just listen to the music and breathe deeply. Try not to think too much about what’s going on in your life, just separate yourself and chillll
[ try to avoid any non-relaxing music during these times, despite how good it might be! By ‘non-relaxing’ I mean hard core hip hop, rock/punk music, etc. This kind of music will prevent you from relaxing, studies have shown that rap music and hard rock can induce angry and stressed emotions! Try slow r&b, classical music, or zen music ❤ ]
4. DO NOT PROCRASTINATE
As tempting as it may be, in my experience, putting off the thing that is making you anxious is only going to increase the anxiety more and more. It is honestly best to just do it, the thought of the action is often a lot more intimidating than the action itself.
Let’s be honest, it’s not like you’re going to stop procrastinating. I know I haven’t, I’m not sure anyone ever has, but just try to maintain it at a not-too-destructive level.
Just think – once it’s done, it’s done, it’s over and you don’t have to worry about it anymore 🙂
5. Avoid over-caffeinating
There have been many links made over the years between caffeine and anxiety (and insomnia obvs).
Ngl I am a COMPLETE hypocrite writing this one, I have roughly 15 million cups of coffee and tea a day – I’m a full blown caffeine addict.
I am, however, also aware that it makes me a lot more anxious when I do have a lot of caffeine, and that when I don’t have the opportunity to have as much caffeine as usual I’m a lot more relaxed (despite the gigantic headache).
If you can, try to cut down on the caffeine or cut it out completely if you’ve been really struggling with your anxiety – the coffee and tea might help you stay awake but it won’t help you stay calm. Remember drinks like green tea also have a lot of caffeine in despite being herbal! So try to aim for decaf or teas like chamomile.
6. Social anxiety? Challenge yourself.
Trust me – I know all about the evil that is social anxiety. People are downright terrifying.
It’s not that you don’t want to make friends or go to parties or go into town, it’s that your brain is terrified of the entire concept. It’ll come up with the most sophisticated (fake) excuses just to get you out of going.
I’m afraid the only option for dealing with this issue (if you want to deal with it) is to force yourself out of your comfort zone.
“Great things never come from comfort zones”
I’ve been doing this to myself for years now, forcing myself to go out, go to parties, go clubbing, go on dates, even though every fibre in my body is trying to drag me in the other direction. But it has helped me, I’m a lot more confident around people I don’t know or haven’t known for long, and I’m a lot more comfortable around guys (I went to a girls school in the middle of nowhere till I was 16 so I wasn’t used to being around boys lol – I’m 19 now).
It’s also given me a lot more self-confidence in general. I’m not so paranoid that people are judging me in public, and I have a much better self-image in my head.
7. Last, but definitely not least – RATIONALISE YOUR THOUGHTS.
There is nothing more detrimental to your anxiety, and mental health in general, than over-thinking.
I know it’s hard when you’re stressed, tired and on-edge to not be dramatic about the worst possible outcome. But this will do nothing to help you.
When this happens, try to slow yourself and your thoughts down. Take a breath. Think logically. What is the really the worst thing that could happen?
Even just taking a minute to think a situation through can slow your breathing and heart rate down. You will realise that even if the worst outcome does happen, it’s not the end of the world. Like I said in my blog on withdrawing from university, no problem is insurmountable.
I hope this has helped you to some extent 🙂 there are many ways people cope with their anxiety, each of them as effective as the last. If your cure isn’t on my blog, it’s on someone elses!
Never think that you’re alone in your anxiety, there are millions of us out there! ❤
Let me know if you try any of these techniques out and if they help ❤
Until next time my loves,