Anxiety sucks. There’s nothing worse than that knot in your stomach when you’re anxious, when everything you do is marred by the feeling of impending doom. It’s horrible, I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and over the last year I’ve been working hard to try and reduce + manage my feelings of anxiety. It’s not easy, and there’s certainly no catch all cure either, but there are a few things I’ve been doing that work.
Talk to someone.
I found I was bottling a lot of my fears, concerns and anxieties up, mostly because I didn’t want anyone to worry about me, or to be seen as the ‘anxious one’, which is kind of funny when I think about it. I did a whole post on why I seeing a psychologist was so helpful to me, not least in changing my negative thought patterns, but in helping me open up about what was bothering me. A problem shared is a problem halved, or so they say, and talking it out helped me feel better, but also become better at recognising harmful thought patterns and even identifying behaviours as silly.
Talking to someone professionally helped me overcome my fear of talking about my anxiety more freely too. Laying my fears out to a stranger who helped me pick them apart in a logical + reasonable manner helped me feel I could do the same with people I know. Now, when something is making me anxious I tell everyone, and it helps reduce the power these anxious thoughts have over me.
Routine is something I’ve always struggled with. As someone with generally poor health, I’m used to grabbing extra sleep where I can, working two weeks flat out and then crashing for three, trying to do it all and then doing nothing at all. Finding a routine that works has been hard work, but it has improved my general wellbeing so much. I’m up every morning at 7.30, I work a six hour day five days a week, because any more than that is too much for my physical health. I have a nap most weekdays, and then I try and move in the evenings, go for a walk or to the gym. I’m nearly always in bed by 10pm, and honestly the comfort of that routine is so calming.
Eat little and often.
I found my mood really peaked and troughed after meal times, and one of the best things I’ve done for my mental and physical health is to start eating smaller meals more frequently. It’s less pressure on the digestive system than eating a giant meal, and I find that keeping my body well fueled and not in lots of extreme states means my mood and energy levels are more balanced.
Whilst I was going through treatment, I spent most of my time in bed, and any time out of it at the hospital, not exactly a recipe for a thriving social life. I had most of my interactions with friends digitally, since we all live pretty scattered round the globe. It was hard, but also I assumed that was my only option. In actual fact, it turned out my pals were more than happy to come visit, sit on my sofa with me and just chat. It’s something I’ve carried on since then, because whilst going out shopping and eating with the girls is great, so is sitting down with a cup of tea and really connecting. It’s a therapeutic experience, it’s bought me closer to my friends, and made me feel so supported, which helps with feelings of anxiety.
Spend more time outside.
An obvious one perhaps, but my mood is very different if I’ve not spent any time outside. I’ve been taking my first coffee of the day out on the balcony recently, to make sure that even if the rest of the day runs away from me, I’ve had ten minutes of fresh air. I alternate gym sessions with walks outside, bundled up with layers now, and I can’t tell you how much a breath of fresh air helps calm me when I’m feeling anxious.
Obviously not *too* much less, but honestly I’m trying to limit myself to one coffee a day, with the occasional afternoon pick me up if it’s a long day. One coffee helps me focus, any more makes me a nervous wreck. If you’re struggling with anxiety, definitely look at your caffeine intake, it really exacerbates symptoms of anxiety.
I hope this is useful to at least some of you, I can certainly say when I’m doing these five things, I’m generally less anxious and calmer!
What do you do to manage anxiety?