Anxiety f**cking sucks, right? I know because I’ve suffered it before, and although I have recovered and am like 99% better I’ll never forget what it feels like to be going through such a thing. Having anxiety was the first time I ever felt ill – like truly ill. Experiencing this made me realise what it would be like to live with a crippling disease that no one, not even doctors, can do something about. I guess the reason I felt like this was because, at one point, I had tried everything to make myself better and couldn’t really see a way out.
Anyway, there is a way out and I found it. It wasn’t easy – it took a lot of work from me and plenty of support from others, but I did eventually get there and now I can safely say I feel back to my normal self. Because I shared my experience of anxiety with you at the time, I have acquired lots of readers and followers who also suffer from anxiety. Today I wanted to write something for them – so they know they are not alone and that things do get better with time.
Rather than being a comfort, I actually wanted to provide practical things that you can do to deal with anxiety a little better. Everyone’s mind and body is completely different, so what works for one person may not have any baring on another. Nevertheless, I believe actively trying to help yourself and overcome this is a way of fighting anxiety in itself, because it shows you aren’t willing to go down without a fight!
So, let’s get on with it shall we?
1) Get to understand the sensations & emotions you feel
The first thing I want you to do is try to understand the sensations and emotions you feel during the height of your anxiety. If you’ve had a panic attack, write about it immediately afterwards so you really get used to those symptoms. The next time they come around you’ll know the process, how long it lasts and possibly what caused it. They may vary each time or stay the same, just keep a log of it. The important thing about anxiety is that, most of the time, you feel as if you have very little control over it. Accepting that you have it and then trying to understand it allows you to take back some control, which in turn may make episodes more bearable.
2) Set aside a time in the day to be ‘stressed’
A lot of the time anxiety doesn’t just come from nowhere – there is usually something triggering it and that is often life stress. For me, setting aside half an hour at the end of each day solely just for worrying helped me contain my anxiety without feeling that I am overlooking my problems. Plenty of anxiety sufferers worry about not worrying enough, and think that by taking away the anxiety they will not care enough about things and therefore fail in life. To some it may sound crazy, but to others I know this is relatable.
Stress is a part of life. There will never be a week that goes by where something, as little as it is, doesn’t stress you out just a bit. Again, we need to learn to accept it but also gain some control. Setting time aside to be stressed means you don’t have to be at other times throughout the way, freeing up more space for you to relax.
3) Communicate with your doctor, boss & support network
Not everyone understands anxiety, it’s true. Those who haven’t experienced it for themselves will find it really hard to relate but what you should remember is that it is a mental health illness and there is help out there. Doctors see and treat people with anxiety and depression every day. They know the signs and do have many ways in which they can help. Once you’ve communicated with your doctor you’ll be able to discuss ways to tell your boss, so that they can help you in your work environment, if you need. When I was in a full-time job, I was given flexi-hours as my anxiety was worse early in the mornings.
Your support network, such as family and friends, are something you should reach out for during hard times. Spend time with the people who are good with you and try to spend less with those that cause or enhance your anxiety in any way. For me, going out clubbing with friends eventually brought on anxiety, so instead I hung around with different types of people and changed my social life from ‘binge drinking’ to ‘wining and dining’. That alone made an enormous difference, so I do believe your environment has a massive part to play.
4) Welcome the worst
Some things should be avoided and others shouldn’t. It may have been a good idea for me to quit clubbing in rough areas for a while, but I was also nervous of travelling on the underground, so does that I mean I should avoid that too? In all honesty, I did for a little while and that was a contributing factor to me launching my freelance career. However, getting on a train and travelling alone is something I need to be able to do in life, otherwise I’d be holding myself back, and so I re-learned that I could do it simply by forcing myself to get out there on my own and DO IT!
Now I travel on my own to see clients all across London. I don’t hate trains. Don’t like em’ but don’t hate them. Nor the underground, so sometimes it really is worth pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Once you’ve done it once, you know you can do it again. What’s the worst that can happen?
5) Keep a diary and log EVERYTHING!
So many things cause or play a part in anxiety. Sometimes it can be difficult to spot the trigger, so keeping a diary and logging everything is the best, most practical way to make a start to improving your anxiety. When you notice patterns you can begin to change your lifestyle accordingly. For example, I developed IBS as part of my anxiety, so eventually when I realised this, whenever I was feeling anxious I would avoid certain foods. My diary helped me a lot and also helped my doctor to treat me with the correct medications.
That’s all I’ve got for today folks! I do really hope you’ve found this post useful and if you have any questions I warmly welcome them below. Have a great day ladies, and remember time is a healer!