I blog about mental health a lot and I’m totally open about my anxiety and how it affects me. Which is bad. Sometimes. I think during my anxiety journey, I’ve learnt a lot about how to deal with both anxiety and stress. I’ve probably learnt more coping mechanisms with anxiety than I ever would have if I didn’t develop it in the first place. Which, thinking about it, I suppose is one benefit to come out of having my mental health disorder. Of course we all need coping strategies when we’re stressed. Because we all get stressed and we’ll all have periods of more stress than others. You know how it is, everything’s fine for months then 12 problems come along at once. I’ve recently had a bit of a episode like that, which I’m not going to go into but it’s important to reiterate the point that everyone goes through it. It can help to know we’re not alone, if nothing else.
I’m not speaking for anyone apart from myself here and I’m sharing these things because I’ve found they’ve worked for me and may work for you too. Of course if you think it’s not stress and you’re suffering from a mental health problem then the GP should be your first port of call, not my bloody blog post! But for anyone willing and open to try some new coping techniques for those inevitable times of stress, I hope you find something here that’s helpful.
Give yourself X amount of time to worry
Obviously this will depend on what you’re worrying about but I’ve certainly found setting a limit on my “worry time” definitely helps. Trying to forget about our stresses and worries just isn’t doable sometimes and I don’t think it’s healthy to try and force someone to put them to the back of their mind and never think about them. Feeling what we feel is an important part of being human. But we know when enough is enough. I sometimes allow myself 15 minutes to think about everything, worry, scream, cry, panic – whatever it is I have to do. Then stop. It’s hard at first but with practice, can really save your day.
Focus on today and only today
My gosh, living “in the moment” is one of the most beneficial things I’ve learnt since developing anxiety and being worried about absolutely everything, ever. If I have a big “thing” coming up; a doctors appointment, a holiday, an event – anything, I could worry my knickers off every single day leading up to it. A prime example of this was a New Years Eve party I was invited to a few years back which I worried about every day for 2 months and guess what? It’s never as bad as what you think it’s going to be. Focusing on today and only today is a life saver. Honestly and truly. If you don’t know where to start with this, I’d suggest Yoga, meditation or mindfulness. Apps, books, DVD’s, whatever you can get your hands on.
Get out of your head
Easier said than done, I know but really, just doing something which will get you out of your head for a while – literally even for just an hour – will be so beneficial. I don’t mean having a relaxing bath or going for a walk because although these things are fantastic for your self care and mental health, they also allow you a lot of time to think. My go-to for this one is playing The Sims. I could be out of my own head for hours, if not days while I’m playing this game. It allows me to completely forget about everything and everyone and that’s really useful. Find your thing.
Look after yourself
When you’re super stressed, it’s easy to neglect ourselves. I know that as much as anyone. But at the end of the day, we deserve better than that from ourselves. Basic self care should never be overlooked, regardless of how silly or obvious it sounds. Seriously, just make sure you drink some water, brush your teeth, maybe have a stretch in the morning. don’t neglect your beautiful self.
Put things into mental boxes
This one sounds weird and I’m aware I’m beginning to sound like a therapist here so bear with. I do this when I have a lot of little things going on and it can really help. When there’s so many little things stressing you out, it can be easy to just look at the big picture and think, “everything’s fucked”. It can be super hard to differentiate between the problems and what’s actual worth your worry and what isn’t. I go through each little thing, individually (probably during my ’15 minutes of worry time’) and put into a box what at this moment in time, I don’t need to worry about. That doctors appointment next week? Don’t need to worry about that right now. See what I mean?