(Photo source here)
I have had one of those weeks where it doesn’t feel like the thunder clouds were going to pass. One minute I would feel a fleeting moment of optimism a bit of joy and then I felt numb again. This is such a contrast to the person I am at work, I am usually quite chatty and happy and then I would go home and the clouds, tension and ball of nerves the only way I can describe it would return. I have felt withdrawn, uninterested and less like my usual self than ever before. I know I struggle with my anxiety and if I allow myself I spiral into a whole vortex of self-pity and worry which I struggle to shake off. This post is mainly for me, I find writing helps me calm my nerves and clears my head but if this helps anyone else well that is just a plus. These are the things I try to keep when I feel my anxiety bubbling up again.
Talk to someone – First and foremost the most important of all. I talk to someone, probably a friend on whatsapp, try to arrange a catch up instead of offloading how I feel in a message. I know I am fortunate, I work for a counselling association, so if I am having a bad day or week I can turn to many people and say this is how I feel. Not only that I have a group of friends who will probably say ‘oh here we go again’ when I moan about feeling like this and will either turn it into a joke, which totally works for me, (I am not recommending you try this on a friend) and respond with something similar to ‘Jade this is how good your life is…… don’t be silly’ Or will lend an ear to listen to what is worrying me and will be completely up for plans we can make to help. Talking can help put many things into perspective, the main comfort is knowing you are not alone. There are always others having these concerns and often a problem shared is a problem halved. Rarely will it just go away but opening up and getting things off your chest is proven to help your well being.
Avoid sugary foods and caffeine – at the risk of sounding boring, if I am beginning to feel like this I try to cut out too many sugary foods, green tea if I have had too many and alcohol. Alcohol is one of those which make me feel better in the moment and then gives me the biggest fear around 3 am. It is not to say I don’t drink, I haven’t reached that point don’t worry but If I know something is going to make me feel worse than I already do I stay away from it.
Go for a run or walk in the fresh air – I am probably the only person who can include exercise in every one of her blog posts. Pretty good going for someone who is not even that fit or thin but I can’t stress how much exercise helps, not only for those endorphins but for goals we reach and achievements we make. I am fortunate I do quite enjoy exercise but even a walk in fresh air at lunch, looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes and seeing the world in a different light for an hour can help. I listen to all of Bryony Gordon Mad world podcast and it is reassuring to hear how many of her guests rely on exercise for these reasons.
Try to get out even it is just a short distance – I am aware everyone’s levels of anxiety differ and reasons for anxiety is never the same. I know when I am feeling at my worse I don’t want to leave the house, this from someone who hates nothing more than staying inside all day can feel like a massive struggle. My walk to work can feel heavy and dread-filled even though I love being there and nothing you think of sparks anything inside you. I find just imagining a place and driving there helps, even if it’s to the shops to treat myself to something or taking the dog out because he needs it as much as I, it gets me out and as soon as I am out the clouds do start to move.
I avoid ‘lock-in places’ – Many say to exercise and I am a massive advocate for this. However, the thing I struggle the most when I am struggling with anxiety is exercise classes. I love an exercise class but when my anxiety is bad the fear of the unknown and what the class will bring and the worry of not being able to leave when I want to makes me feel horrendous. I know it sounds silly to me but its a trigger which makes me panic.
Concentrate on planning something positive – I always notice my anxiety is about to worsen when I started heading into projects with 100% complete undivided attention as though nothing else but making this occasion absolute perfect matters. Sometimes having too much on my plate and worrying I am not doing well triggers it, sometimes I notice taking on too much is a symptom. I like to have things to look forward to, I love a busy schedule and seeing people but I do try and concentrate on how I am feeling and holding onto a moment when I feel good instead of constantly looking forward to something else. When I have things troubling me I try to channel that feeling into just one project work hard on it without letting it drown me or consume too much of my time and thoughts. Ticking things off and giving myself a feeling of achievements does a lot to loosen the knot that is constantly in my stomach.
Write – I find writing so cathartic, I don’t even care if half of my ramblings don’t make sense to anyone else but me. When I started this post I was struggling to regulate my breathing and the thought of doing anything but going home to bed was making me nervous beyond belief but tapping away and thinking of the different things which can make me feel better, or at least ease the feeling I have has lifted my mood. Hold on to that moment for as long as you can, even if you know it is not authentic smile when you don’t feel like smiling, it has been proven to help. I always thought this was ridiculous but if you ever need convincing just sit there and smile. Remember a time when you were excited and happy and try to go back to that place when you feeling self-doubt set in.
Practice some Yoga or get some screen-free time – Lastly, put a bit of time aside for yoga, meditation or just some screen-free time. I practice yoga at least once a week and it is the one thing which can completely transform how I feel. For anyone who struggles with their mental health, I couldn’t recommend yoga more. It has helped me unmeasurable amounts to refocus on everything. Not only that I have learned something new this year which I never thought I would be able to do.
And that is that, if anyone has anything they do to make themselves feel better I would love to hear them.