When I think of my personal journey with anxiety, I like to think of a sealed jar with a few holes in the lid. As I have gotten older, and more aware of the dangers of life, more holes have appeared. As long as I have kept the majority of my anxiety within this jar, tightly controlled, it has felt okay that occasionally a bit gets out. However, recently, my life with the jar has felt a bit like this scene from Mulan:
It’s taken a little while for me to come to terms with the fact that I have anxiety, and I’m not just ‘a worrier’ or ‘sensitive’. It’s taken even longer to realise that it shouldn’t be something that stops me.
Here is my list of steps I take to help survive oncoming anxiety. As I lay these out, I’m aware that anxiety comes in a plethora of shapes and sizes. These things help me, but they might not be right for everyone. Anxiety is all about supporting one another, so if you have any other tips share them down below.
As I have learnt more about my anxiety, I have found it much easier to deal with. Anxiety (or General Anxiety Disorder) can manifest through mental and physical symptoms. The NHS lists feeling sick, headaches, pins and needles, trembling, and excessive sweating as just a few
Once you know how your anxiety affects your body, you can understand the signs that perhaps today might be a hard day. When anxiety strikes me particularly strongly, I begin to loose feeling in my legs and hands through pins and needles. This used to be something that completely freaked me out, and made my anxiety worse. Now I know it is a product of anxiety, I see it as a big warning sign that I need to calm down somewhere safe and quiet.
Once you realise that anxiety is affecting you on a particular day I find it helpful to just accept what is happening. This sounds a bit obvious right?
What I mean by this, is sometimes fighting how you’re feeling can just make it all worse. By letting myself know that my anxiety is natural, and okay, the panic can sometimes dissipate. I might even let someone know how I’m feeling, just so I can have a swift exit if things get worse. Be your own best friend, let yourself know that the feeling will pass, and you will get through it.
There is also nothing wrong with saying ‘No’ to something that will cause you way too much stress. Sometimes it’s worth working through anxiety, but it’s also good to know when you’ve reached a limit.
If the anxiety is coming before an event, or is just meddling with your day, distract yourself. If it’s the situation that is causing you stress, take yourself outside of it for a minute, whether this is by actually physically leaving a room, or by popping on some headphones.
In some cases, you don’t have the luxury of leaving situations. My best trick to help with these tricky occasions is counting in my head. Counting is my number one way to combat anxiety. By concentrating on the rhythm of my inner voice counting away, the anxiety begins to sit beside me rather than on top.
Another crucial thing to tell yourself is how brave you are being. My instant reaction to sentences like this is usually to cringe. Yet, sometimes we need a bit of cheese to remind ourselves how well we’re doing (literal cheese and metaphorical).
Once you’ve managed the task, you gotta treat yo’ self. I don’t have the financial ability to do this through purchasing things, but I do have a bath and a kettle. Make yourself some tea, get some biscuits, and make a bath. You deserve it. Look at you doing you and getting through the day.
Never ever feel like you have to be ashamed of your anxiety. It is not a weakness. If you got past it, you deserve all the relaxation you can get. If it did get the best of you that day, and you had to cancel some things and get back into bed, don’t worry about that either. We all have our bad days.
I hope these steps have been helpful for anyone that has this gremlin of a mental state. We’re not alone in this, and we’re going to be fine. Promise.
If you enjoyed this post why not check out ‘Picture Perfect Depression’?