I’ve spoken previously about my mental health and whilst I’m in a pretty good place at the moment, anxiety is still something I live with on a daily basis. Here are a few things I have learned about living with it.
Running helps. Really helps. Like, really really helps. One run can turn me from an anxious mess to an altogether stronger, better version of myself. The me I want to be. Do running.
Caffeine is off the menu completely – green tea included. I’ve never been a big tea or coffee drinker so I have a really low tolerance to it, and for me caffeine is the anti-running. It can turn a good mood into an anxious mood faster than you can say ‘just one cup to perk me up won’t do any harm…’
Sugar is only slightly less of a devil for me than caffeine – a baby devil if you will. One that’s harder to cut out as well – so a clingy baby devil. It doesn’t affect my anxiety as much as caffeine but I notice that I am significantly calmer when I reduce my intake. It’s a work in progress, but I’m getting there.
When I’m anxious my mind guides me towards social media, but that’s the worst place for me to be. Never mind the unhealthy comparisons and life-envy that comes with an Instagram addiction, losing myself in my phone takes me away from the now and although that might be what I think I need, it just makes my brain more anxious. It’s not paying attention to what’s going on around me so it doesn’t know if I’m safe or not and the longer I use my phone, the worse it gets. Putting my phone down is embarrassingly difficult, but so important.
Mindfulness isn’t just the current wanky buzzword – it actually works. Anxiety usually focuses on something that has happened or something that might happen in the future – mindfulness keeps you focused on the present, where 99% of the time you’re completely fine. You’re safe. There are loads of tips online, but I find Headspace a great app for getting started and learning the basics. Colouring books or yoga are great options too.
However loud the anxious voice is, there’s a rational one in there too. Listen to it. Trust it.
Sleep, sleep, sleep. Tiredness makes everything worse.
Don’t be afraid of medication.
Reading Harry Potter is really soothing. Except when Dobby dies.
It does get better. You can learn how to get a hold of your demons and reason with them.
This is just a snapshot of my thoughts – I may add to this over time and would love to hear your experiences.