Simple ways I’ve made my anxiety a little more manageable

Anxiety sucks. There’s no two ways about it. It can be overwhelming, entirely consuming and completely life-changing and I’ve certainly experience all 3 of those feelings since I developed Generalised Anxiety Disorder in 2011. I wrote about my experience in more depth here but since then (goodness me, it literally does seem like a lifetime ago), my anxiety has chopped and changed quite dramatically. And it’s no surprise really because things change all the time. There was a point in time where I had to eat sort of, every hour because I was terrified I was going to faint. Which stemmed from an episode of the flu where I almost actually did faint and voila, I have anxiety and I’m terrified of everything. Funny how the brain works isn’t it?

Thankfully, I don’t eat every single hour any more (although I definitely saw the weight repercussions from doing that which I’ve been trying to work on ever since) but like I said, throughout my anxiety journey – I prefer to call it a journey, rather than a struggle because it has been a journey. I’ve probably learnt more about myself, my family, friends and life since having anxiety than I ever did before that – my triggers, my anxieties and everything else that comes with it has changed and probably will continue to do so.

I think one of the main reasons for this is because over time, I’ve learnt how to manage my anxiety better. Which is literally all I could have ever hoped for. It’s not been without help from the doctor, my counselor, my Mum and various other people as well as taking up Yoga, taking herbal remedies, reading books and learning more about anxiety in itself.

Managing your anxiety is hard. Really hard. There will always be days which are better than others. There will always be moments where you feel like you’ve taken a step back but I’ve also learnt that that’s okay because life isn’t linear and never will be. But you do have to put the work in too and here are some little ways in which I’ve made my anxiety a little more manageable and hopefully you can take some of these on board too.

Be your own teacher

I found that learning about anxiety – even the science behind what it is, where it comes from and why it makes us feel the way we feel – so helpful. I know that everyone experiences anxiety in their life; that’s totally normal. But with generalized anxiety disorder, the way I like to describe it is that it feels like you’re waiting for the results of a scary hospital appointment, all the time. But once I learnt about my condition, I was able to isolate it. I remember being in Tesco once and I felt awful; my heart was racing, I was hot, my palms were sweaty but I told myself, “it’s just anxiety” and that alone made everything that little bit better.

Accept all types of help

Accepting help is so, so, so important for any mental health disorder, not just anxiety. I’m not the type of person who’s afraid to ask for help anyway so getting help wasn’t an issue for me but I totally understand that it can be for some people. Help comes in all shapes and sizes; therapists, doctors and mental health helplines. Even smaller things like certain products you can get to give you that little helping hand. Mental (and physical) disorders sometimes make you feel like you’re drowning so any tiny little help you can get, is worth taking. For example, if you’re on medication for your mental health, something like a days of the week pill box which you can buy at Millercare, will ensure you don’t forget to take them.

Celebrate the small stuff

My anxiety made it incredibly hard for me to leave the house for a long period of time. Which was such a shock to my system because before then, I was hardly ever home! I was always out with friends, at college, at work or clubbing. I was always doing something. The all of a sudden, I wasn’t. And I couldn’t. And it was a real shock. My therapist always used to give me little “tasks” to do until I saw her next. It could even be something as simple as walking into Tesco and then walking back out again (big shops are a struggle for me). But when I did complete one of those tasks, it always felt amazing. I finally felt like I was on the right track and I think celebrating those little things has helped me get to where I am today. I’m certainly not where I want to be but I’m better than I was.

Have your own ways to cope

The way in which people cope with mental health conditions varies so much between person to person that it’s basically impossible to offer solid advice on this point. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa. So although I read a ton of books and did a ton of research, I found my own small ways to cope and feel a little lighter on a day-to-day basis. I use herbal remedies such a Kalms and Bach’s Rescue Remedy which always gives me a slight relief. I use the 7-11 breathing technique (7 counts in, 11 counts out) for when I’m feeling a little heart-racy and overwhelmed and I always know that getting into bed with a cup of tea and watching some YouTube always calms me down if I’m feeling whack. Find what works for you.

If you suffer with anxiety, I’d love to hear ways in which you’ve made it a little more bearable. Do you have any advice for someone who might be struggling?

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52 thoughts on “Simple ways I’ve made my anxiety a little more manageable

  1. Thanks for these tips. I often feel anxious about going somewhere new and have found breathing exercises and meditation helps. Keep up the good work!

  2. Your posts are always so so helpful Jenny 💖. I’m learning to manage my anxiety too and agree yoga is so amazing. I’ve been doing meditation and breathing exercises which help a lot. I’m exactly the same and find a cuppa and some YouTube vids so comforting. Having a bath in the evening and listening to music always helps me slow down and relax. Excellent post, thanks for sharing your tips 😘 xx

    Bexa | http://www.hellobexa.com

  3. Great post!
    I’ve read a lot of books about anxiety and mental health in general, which have been of great help; it has been really useful to find out what exactly is happening in my brain when I am feeling a panic start. It has helped me to be able to rationalise the anxiety a bit more.
    Rescue Remedy and lavender oil have also been great for my travel anxiety and when I leave the house by myself.
    Meditation is a great tool for me as well, but I am pretty rubbish at making time for it. If I’m out and feel a panic attack coming on, I do try to focus on my breathing- the rise and fall of my chest, the sensations of breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth and also counting each breath up to ten. It has a really calming effect.
    And of course, never underestimate the healing powers of a long, hot bath; your dressing gown or a simple cup of tea 🙂

  4. Such a beautiful post ! The thing that works best for me when I’m all anxious and nervous is listening to some soft slow music!
    That’s my remedy on anxiety 😊

  5. I love this post! As somebody who loves soaking up facts anyway learning about anxiety and its science has been really helpful. I can so relate as well to going out. I have only just started to regularly go out at least five days out of seven. I live somewhere where’s there’s a good route, so my boyfriend and I go for a walk in the evening, and I go for a solo walk in the morning. Because like you I used to be out all of the time! I find reading, Youtube videos, and music really help me get out of my own head, and not get stuck on negative thinking.

  6. This is such a great post – thank you for sharing. I feel I’m still learning ways in which to manage my anxiety – but I do find mindfulness very helpful, and I use the 5-4-3-2-1 technique if I’m in a situation where I feel really panicky (big shops, for example). I also know how to self-soothe, and find curling up in my rocking chair with a book and gently rocking and reading very helpful.

  7. This is a wonderful post! I feel like accepting help was definitely one of the hardest things to learn to accept. Once I did things definitely became a lot more bearable. I try not to feel like my anxiety is a burden on others because they wouldn’t be here if they didnt Sant to be.

  8. Loved this post, Jenny, there are some really helpful tips in here, especially the “life isn’t linear and never will be” one – that’s one I’m going to print out and keep. I don’t suffer from anxiety, fortunately, but I have friends that do, so this was a timely read and reminder of how I can try and help them. Thank you for sharing, x

    Lisa | http://www.lisasnotebook.com

  9. I suffer from anxiety and I know how it feels. About your last point: large gatherings always make me anxious. So I now consciously try to avoid them, though it is not easy to do living in a chaotic country. Thanks for sharing your learning with us.

  10. I’m definitely a believer of celebrating little successes, and taking time to process the anxiety of the last few weeks/days. If I’ve had a particularly anxiety-inducing few weeks, I have a day at home on my own to just catch up with my own thoughts and process my feelings about what’s happened, particularly as the work I do is usually really intense and stressful.

    Amy | hookedonthemusic.com

  11. Celebrating the small achievements has definitely helped me with my anxiety! I was always made to feel silly for saying things like “I was able to go shopping on my own today” but when I look back at what I was like a few years ago, I know I wouldn’t have even got out of the door. I’m so proud of how far I’ve come and feel that I deserve to celebrate my achievements, no matter how silly some people think they are!xx

    Jade | jademarie.co.uk

    1. Same! Honestly, I feel proud of myself every time I make it into a shop because it’s such a huge trigger for me. I know it might sound silly to others but that’s not important 🙂 xx

  12. Love this post! I really like how it is centred around teaching yourself and find out what works for you as a person individually. I think many people don’t realise how specific anxiety can be. I have to remember not to get frustrated because something that works for someone else doesn’t work for me.

  13. I always find it comforting and interesting to hear how other people with anxiety cope. I totally agree that we all need to do it in our own way and find what works for us. And definitely celebrate the small stuff. The little things take us a step further in our journey and let us know that we are on the right track!

  14. Love these tips, as always! I think you’re so right about celebrating the small stuff. As I’ve got older and seen my peers progress so much further than I have it’s been quite demoralising, which makes my anxiety worse. So I’ve just had to remind myself that we aren’t in a race, and that even the small things I achieve like getting on the train or going to the shops are still steps forward. As you say, we are all different and have to navigate our journeys individually, but thank you so much for sharing your tips!
    Beth x Adventure & Anxiety

  15. I love your post! I’ve had generalized anxiety since I was 8, I am 21 now and in April I had 4 days were I just stayed in bed miserable not eating or anything. By the end because I had so many talks with myself I came to the understanding that instead of fighting with my anxiety when I get frustrated, I need to learn to work with it in order to feel better. Since then I haven’t had an anxiety attack. I still get nervous and anxious at times but I know it’s just my bodies way of caring for me and trying to keep me safe…and I know when to tell it something is okay. Once again thank you for sharing. I actually have a blog on WordPress as well, I hope you check it out!

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