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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