I’m going to come out and say it: I’ve suffered with anxiety for most of my life. When I was a teenager, I had frequent panic attacks, often cancelled plans with friends and made myself physically ill with stress and worry. As I grew up and saw more of the world, my panic attacks eased and, in many ways, I got “better”. Except, I wasn’t better at all, I’ve just learnt how to cope a bit more and function as an adult.
At the start of this year, I realised I finally needed help. The problem is that of course, I let my anxiety get in the way and now, we’re in the middle of a lockdown and the whole world is now in state of panic. The new “C” word understandably puts a knot in my stomach and I’m sure I’m not alone. Due to my work, I knew this was coming a couple of months ago and have therefore been an anxious wreck for some time. I now regret not getting any help before now and although I’m sure there’s still avenue available, it just doesn’t really seem feasible all the time we shouldn’t be leaving our homes – and whilst I’m too scared to do anything or go anywhere. I’ve come to appreciate my health and the need to look after ourselves, so as soon as it is safe to do so I will finally get the help I need.
This post isn’t about the “C” word though, and it’s not a complete story of my anxiety as to be honest, we’d be here quite some time. I thought that just for now, I could share with you some of the small things that make a difference to how I feel day to day:
Fresh air, or a walk if you can. If you feel up for it, go for a walk, it doesn’t have to be far. I find that I instantly feel calmer after a few deep breaths in the fresh air and a quiet walk somewhere to clear my head. Some days, it’s a struggle to get out the door and all I want to do is curl up, but once I’m dressed and outside, it really does help. If you’re really not up for a walk, even just opening all the windows and letting the air in helps.
Play with my puppy. I have dreamed of having my own Corgi for several years and a few weeks ago was incredibly lucky to finally get one. Nothing is more calming than playing with my lovely boy! Of course, playing with a puppy wasn’t always an option but even before we got Reggie, I’d spend a chunk of time scrolling through photos of other corgis… maybe that sounds weird, but it’s always helped.
A hot bath or shower. Nothing is more relaxing than a lovely hot bubble bath, or if you’re in more of a rush then a shower will still help, at least I find that it does anyway. I like to sweat out all my problems without having to go to the gym!
Deep breaths. This sounds like a given really but taking a few deep breaths and just giving myself a moment to focus is a key part of my day, sometimes several times a day! Try to relax your shoulders, really breath in through your nose and gently breath back in again out of your mouth. Doing this for a couple of minutes is so beneficial for relieving anxiety and stress.
A distraction – like colouring or reading. A simple hobby to focus on, like a good book or colouring something in, is a nice distraction from my anxieties. Watching a film, drawing or painting, anything that you enjoy that will also distract you. Set yourself some time to focus on something else.
Tidy up. It’s so true what they say – tidy space, tidy mind. Unfortunately I often struggle to get motivated to get house work done, even though I hate the mess. It really depends on my mood. I think it’s important not to be too hard on yourself and force yourself to do too much when you haven’t got the motivation or energy, but if you can, tidying up just one room or small space does actually help. Once I get started, I often can’t stop and go full nesting mode! If it feels like too much, I declutter something else, like the photos on my phone or a small task like clearing out my purse. A small victory in the day to be celebrated!
Speak to a friend. Sometimes it’s hard to talk about your problems, I know that for a fact… but it does help. Even if you don’t talk about what’s bothering you at first, just reach out for some communication and a good laugh. Talking about your concerns can follow later.
Make plans. I’m terrible for making plans and then sticking to them but having something to look forward to always gets me through anxious times. It helps to focus on something that will be happening after you’ve faced your demons, or whatever is worrying you.
Drink water. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate – you’ll feel so much better! Being dehydrated makes me feel so unwell, which I’m turns makes me panic more. Just drink your water!
Write it all down. This is something I’m still working on. I struggle to communicate my anxieties, because a lot of the time I don’t actually understand it myself. I don’t know why I’m in a blinding panic, I just am. Processing it by writing it all down instead is super helpful, I just seem to forget this and bottle things up instead!
I hope you’ve found these helpful, let me know in the comments what you do to ease your anxiety and get you through the day!