Coping with anxiety

I recently wrote a piece about my experience of anxiety in its many forms, which I think (or hope) proved useful to more than just me. Because I’m pretty sure it helped a few people, I thought I’d follow it up with some of the ways I’ve found of minimising some of my anxiety and coping with it every day.

Headspace – this is a handy little app that was recommended to me by a therapist. If you opt for the paid version (which I’d strongly recommend) there’s a whole range of sessions to choose from, for all sorts of things, from anxiety and stress to motivating yourself to exercise and boosting your self esteem. Each set of sessions guide you through meditation and you can choose how long you do it for. Some days it is harder than others, especially if you’re feeling particularly anxious or something’s on your mind, but it still provides a much needed escape and puts everything back into perspective, even if it is just for 15 minutes.

Exercise – this is probably the last thing anyone who’s feeling anxious or depressed wants to hear; it definitely is for me. But, no matter how much I really really don’t want to do that Body Boss session, or go to the gym, I ALWAYS feel better afterwards. I understand that it takes a hell a lot of motivation sometimes, but even just going for a swim or a jog helps your body release some tension and takes your mind off things for a little while.

Talking – another thing that can be super hard to do and most of the time, talking to someone about how I’m feeling is my last resort when I can’t hide it anymore. Most of the time, though, once I’ve talked to someone about it I feel a sort of release. Sometimes vocalising the problem helps you realise how insignificant it really is (my brain tricks me into thinking everything is the end of the world). Sometimes speaking up can be a way of getting stuff out of your head and into the world, something that helps more than you might think. Sometimes, sharing your worries, concerns or anxious thoughts just help you to realise that there are people who want to help and support you; as the old saying goes, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Writing – like I said when I started this blog, writing often helps me to make sense of my thoughts and organise them in a way that’s not so overwhelming. But one of my favourite ways to deal with anxious thoughts is to physically write them down. If they’re longer or need a bit of sorting through, I write them in a diary. If they’re shorter and more sudden and I need a quick fix, I find the nearest pen and paper, write the thought down, mull it over for minute and then rip up the paper and throw it away. Like I’ve already said, seeing the thought there on the paper allows me to put it out of my mind; I know it’s there for when I want to deal with it but it reminds me that I don’t have to deal with everything all at once.

Being alone – I love being with people and I’m lucky enough to have a ton of amazing friends and family I can turn to when I’m struggling. But, as an introvert at heart, sometimes being with people exhausts me and I need some time to myself. Just having a space I can go to and zone out or listen to music or read a book, helps me to reset and get the energy I need to stay anxiety-free.

Accepting it – again, this is probably something that lots of people don’t want to hear, but actually sometimes just accepting your anxious thoughts or feelings instead of fighting against them can be helpful. Of course, I don’t like feeling anxious, especially as there’s often no real reason for it, but fighting against it and not feeling any better for my efforts tends to make me feel worse. Obviously, I don’t sit and wallow in it, but letting it have it’s place and accepting that it’s part of me for the time being helps me to forget about it and get on with the stuff I need to do.

Recognising it – I’ve learnt a lot about my anxiety and panic attacks having lived with them for a bit, and I’ve realised it’s often not a sudden onset, but more of a slow burner. Now I recognise what my body’s telling me before any anxious thinking starts, I can practice relaxing breathing techniques or use one of the other things on this list to help prevent it escalating. It doesn’t work all the time, but it definitely helps.

I hope some of these tips help other people like they help me, and I’m sure there are loads more out there that I haven’t thought of yet, which I’d always be open to trying.