Anxiety is incredibly difficult to live with. Imagine permanently walking along a tightrope, waiting to wobble, trying not to fall. That’s what having anxiety feels like. All day. Every day.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK in 2013. That number is staggering, but also not surprising. I myself suffer with quite severe anxiety, but most of the time I can manage it. In this post I share my strategies in the hope of helping others.
The effectiveness of coping methods will vary from person to person. What some may find helpful, may make others feel worse. It’s important to remember this when your trying to control your anxiety, and it’s also worth remembering that gaining control of something that can be uncontrollable is hard.
- Music – I find music effective when I am anxious but also angry. Nirvana usually works for me. Headphones in, cleaning spray in hand, 9 times out of 10 I’m feeling a little better after a loud sing-a-long.
- Breathing – Slow, deep breaths allow you to regain focus.
- Time out – Admittedly, as a parent I can find it difficult to take time out without the sound of ‘mummy!’ ringing in my ears, but even 5 minutes shut in the bathroom helps me to gather my thoughts.
- Do not strive for perfection – Until just recently, I felt the need to always be as perfect as I could be, not in my appearance or personality, but in my home and in my position as a mother. As soon as I told myself to let go of the perfectionist standards, my anxiety reduced.
- Self care – A trip to the hairdressers, a long hot bath, a coffee with friends. Whatever it is that you do for you, do it. Do it as much as you can. You’ll feel better for it.
- Eat – A hungry mind can be an angry mind. Without fuel you cannot focus, without focus you cannot control your thoughts.
- Figure out your triggers – The simplest of things can be a trigger for anxiety, one of my triggers is loud noise. Try and pay attention to your surroundings when your feeling anxious, write down even the smallest details if you can. Try and find a pattern.
- Distraction – My phone is my crutch, if I’m feeling anxious I tend to hide behind it. Browsing social media or playing games distracts my mind, stops me from over-thinking and provides me with a little time out. You could carry a notepad and write or draw, or play on your phone like me. Focusing on something is always better than thinking about everything.
- Exercise – I do a lot of walking, often with headphones in. Exercise causes the body to release endorphin’s act as analgesics, which means they eradicate the perception of pain. Endorphin’s trigger a positive feeling in the body.
But most of all, once you’ve figured out how to manage your anxiety, accept what will be. Learn to live alongside anxiety. Without acceptance there can be no tolerance.
You can find help and guidance regarding mental health on the Mind website.