I’ve suffered with anxiety for seventeen years. I was eleven when it started. Death and illness in the family and being bullied at school were the triggers, and these life experiences have affected me to an extent where I just worry. A LOT!!! How much I worry and feel anxious varies in severity depending on what’s happening in my life, but I feel some form of it every day. It can be exhausting, draining and quite distressing. But for the most part it’s REALLY ANNOYING!!! Add a massive pain in the arse, a vexation, irritation and other more explicit terms that I won’t mention on here, and it’s plain to see anxiety is not my friend. I’ve learnt to accept it’s part of who I am (I’ve been like it for that long!) although it’s taken some time to be more compassionate with myself about it. I’m able to acknowledge it for what it is now. Other times it isn’t so easy, and it’s difficult not to beat myself up about it. It’s like a grey fog has consumed me and all I want to do is crawl into bed and sleep to make it go away. Sometimes my head feels like it will explode. I get to the point where I can’t bear to think anymore, about anything. I just need a break from it. Sometimes I wish I were like other people I know, who are stronger and seem to “have their shit together” emotionally and mentally! I admire them and try to take inspiration from their outlook on life, but I wonder how they do it.
Anxiety is really common. I know so many people who suffer with it, some worse than others. It can stem and feed into other things, such as panic attacks, depression, phobias, OCD, health anxiety, to name just a few. Over the years I’ve tried to find techniques to make life a little easier living with anxiety. A fairly long list of counsellors, CBT, self help books, meditation, breathing techniques…Some have helped, some not so much, if at all.
Here are my tips and advice on how to give anxiety the middle finger…
- Support – Talking to a family member, friend, collegue etc. is really helpful when you’re feeling anxious. Their advice and support can help reassure you, and it can help you see things from another perspective when you might not be in the best frame of mind. Try looking at it from the angle of what you’d say to a friend if they felt the same as you, what advice would you give to help?
- Exercise – Whether it be walking, swimming or a Davina DVD, a bit of exercise every day really helps to boost your serotonin levels. I used to roll my eyes when anyone mentioned exercise, that’s the last thing I felt like doing! But they are so right. It can be hard to get motivated when you’re not feeling right, but once you push yourself to get up on your feet and get moving you feel energised and uplifted. Just encourage yourself and take it at your own pace.
- Self Help Books – I own a few and have picked up some useful tips and advice from them. My favourites are Overcoming Anxiety by Helen Kennerley and Making Friends With Anxiety by Sarah Rayner (both available on Amazon).
- Guided Mediations – I’ve always found these really helpful when I’m feeling anxious. I listen to these when I need to just focus on the here and now and take some time out. Especially if I’m stuck in that vicious cycle of thinking where I feel quite panicky, too. My favourites are by Anna in Wonderland. I’ve also downloaded audio books from iTunes, not only are they fun to listen to you can incorporate it into another calming activity such as colouring or crafting.
- Visualisation – This can be linked with Guided Meditation, and just bring focus back when you need it most. I use the image of beautiful green hills and fields, or a relaxing beach. Talk yourself through the surroundings and take some deep breaths. Colour visualisation is also great. Imagine a shimmering, warm light (positivity and calm) entering your body as you breath in, and a cool blue light (anxiety and tension) being released as you breathe out.
- Breathing Exercises – Focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly in seconds…one, two, three and then the same breathing out for one, two, three. Do this for a few minutes, or until you feel more calm and relaxed.
- Pinterest – I’m attracted to beautiful visuals and feel instantly relaxed when I look at photography and art. Pinterest has so much to inspire, from crafting and interior design to make up and fashion. Build up your board collection and enjoy discovering images you will love to look back through.
- Crystals – I’ve just started reasearching crystals and their benefits. I have a few in my collection now, one of my favourites being amethyst. “A positive stone transforming negative energies into positive energies, it clears and calms the mind allowing the user to become more focused. It improves memory, motivation and dispels fear and anxiety.” I also use crystals as worry beads, gently rubbing the cool, smooth surface has a calming and grounding effect.
- Crafting – I love using my creativity as a sort of therapy for myself, and doing something physical like Pom Pom making, making a felt book or scrapbooking are some of the things I enjoy to take my mind off things. When I had LL I felt extreamly low, (the doctor thought I had postnatal depression, and looking back she was probably right). My friend had made an alphabet felt book for her little girl, it was incredible and made me realise I needed something to pass the time and get me through those difficult days. It took me five months to create but what an achievement. It really helped me to relax and now my daughter has something she can treasure forever.
- Reading and Writing – When I’m in need of some chill out time I love to bury my head in a good book, preferably a historical romance! There’s something quite magical about how a book can transport you to another world! Starting my blog has been really therapeutic. I can put my heart into something I’m passionate about. Why not start one yourself? It took me ages to pluck up the courage but if you just do it and get stuck in then it starts to blossom into something you’re really proud of. Or you could write a short story!
Do do you have any tips and advice on how to feel less anxious? I really hope that has helped some of you. Remember, keep smiling and just take each day as it comes Xxx