Regaining responsibility after anxiety

Anxiety disorder can take a lot away from us; our ability to socialize and enjoy ourselves, to go to work, our confidence, our self-esteem, our physical health as well as our mental health, our responsibilities and our independence. I should know, my anxiety disorder and diagnoses robbed me of more or less all of those aspects of my life at some point or another from the age of 21 until now. If you don’t know what it feels like to not feel like “you”, to not feel like a valued member of society, to feel completely and utterly alone and friendless and totally petrified at the prospect of ever getting your life back to “normal” then please, take a moment to just express some gratitude because coming from someone who’s been there, it’s the worst feeling in the entire world. 

I don’t hate my anxiety any more, I’ve learnt to live with it instead of against it and curate my own techniques and coping mechanisms for when times get tough. I learnt a lot of this from my therapist, who was an absolute godsend at a time where I desperately needed help. Counselling can be scary but I’d always recommend finding a mental health counselor about your anxiety. Throughout my 5 or 6 years living with this disorder, it’s changed and so has my thought patterns. Things I found mind-numbingly impossible 4 years ago, I don’t worry about now and I’ve learnt to somehow deal with certain anxiety inducing triggers in my own way.

I still have a long way to go but I’ve learnt to accept that this anxiety may always be a part of my life so I need to be constantly evolving in order to keep it at bay as much as physically possible. I’m well aware that I’m not your “usual” 26 year old, I don’t act like I’m 26 and I’m nowhere near where I wanted to be at this age before the Big A hit me. But again, it’s something that I have to live with and learn to overcome as best as possible.

Like I said in the opening paragraph, anxiety can take a hell of a lot away from you. It can leave you feeling lonely, useless, depressed, hypersensitive, terrified and just generally like you’ve lost control with your independence in a heap on the floor. It’s definitely felt like that for me time and time again. But I’ve found that very small acts and making very small changes can make you feel that little bit more independent and in control. Sometimes something small is all it takes to shift your mindset for that day.

Break the habits

Anxiety can often lead to a lot of unhealthy habits. My main habit which although I’ve had since way before my anxiety diagnoses but has been amplified ten-fold since, has been nail picking. Not biting – picking. My nails are absolutely disgusting and I pick and pick and pick, especially when I’m feeling particularly anxious (which is a lot). Taking active steps to try and break those habits can definitely give you a sense of control over your anxiety but don’t forget to cut yourself some slack if you slip up.

Adopt a skincare routine

Anxiety or no anxiety, it’s nice to have a proper skincare routine. It’s nice to take that time for yourself, alone in the bathroom, doing that small act of self-care for 5 minutes at the beginning and the end of the day. Skincare doesn’t have to be expensive either and I recently did a write up of my new Superdrug Simply Pure products I’ve been using which certainly won’t break the bank. Even if you don’t currently work or find it difficult to leave the house due to your anxiety, just take those 5 minutes every morning.

Set yourself small goals

My old counselor really drilled this one into me and she was so supportive when it came to small goals. She always encouraged me to set myself small tasks every week and I’d report back to her with how I did and how I felt when I attempted them. And when I say small goals, I really do mean small goals. Anxiety is overwhelming but starting small and achieving those small goals can make you feel on top of the world. I’ve always struggled going into shops, since I developed anxiety – although I’m much better now, I still struggle in really big shops like a Tesco Extra – and setting myself a tiny goal of “going into the corner shop” and actually managing it, was a huge step forward!

Allow yourself to have small responsibilities

When you lose a lot of your independence through anxiety, you can lose a lot of responsibilities too. And being an adult and feeling like you have no responsibilities can be really disheartening and make you feel really down. Before I started my blog, there was a time where I didn’t have a job, I didn’t have a blog or any hobbies really. I literally had nothing and I can’t even begin to describe the blackness I felt during that time. I would have anxiety attacks just because I knew I had nothing in my life. Nothing to do, nothing to look forward to and no responsibilities. So setting yourself small daily responsibilities can go a long way in making your mindset a more healthier place. Start super small, like watering the plants daily or doing the washing.

Keep things tidy

Although sometimes tidying up can be the last thing in the world you want to do when you’re feeling anxious or having a particularly anxious period, I will always advocate for tidying up, keeping things clean and decluttering because I firmly believe that decluttering your possessions can help declutter your mind – even ever so slightly. Yes, you’re feeling anxious but that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to live in a nice, clean space. So if you can, have a tidy up, a polish or a hoover or a declutter of something messy. Start small, with one area at a time and see how that makes you feel.

As always, these are all things that I’ve personally experienced and have found work for me. I wouldn’t mention them otherwise. If you experience any anxiety disorder, I’d love to hear of ways you’ve managed to feel like you’re regaining some sort of independence.

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Twenty-something lifestyle blogger from Essex. Book lover, Slytherin, organisational wizard and enjoys Motorsport, Disney and Yoga.

48 thoughts on “Regaining responsibility after anxiety

  1. This is a great post!! I totally agree with the tidying up part too. I feel so out of sorts when there’s chaos happening in my house and feel so much more calm when it’s tidied up. Thank you for sharing things that have helped you!

  2. I’ve lived with severe anxiety and all that comes with it since I was 14, so 30 plus years. It doesn’t help now that I am confined to my room, so if anything mine has gotten worse. It was one of the reasons I started blogging because it does help somewhat. I pushed myself to do IG stories but I’ve not shown myself on them since last year. I know I need to push myself again. Stepping out of my comfort zone is terrifying but I find if I push and keep doing it, it does get that bit easier. You have to want to help yourself I think. My son who is 19 has become Agoraphobic due to his anxiety. He has to take Propranolol for it. People who have never suffered from anxiety have no idea of the impact it has on your life. 🙂

    Sarah x
    http://boxnip.co.uk

    1. Awh I’m so sorry to hear that about you and your son. Being young and agoraphobic is awful. Although there’s absolutely nothing wrong with taking medication if you need it. I hope he finds some useful tools to manage it!

  3. I suffered from anxiety and insomnia when I was younger so know what you are feeling. I’d say that it has never totally gone away but in time I learnt to accept this was a part of me. Recently I have made some huge advances and I would say I am pretty much anxiety free. I now have a very public job – as a sixth form receptionist and writing and blogging has definitely given me the confidence to discover who I truly am and be happy in my own skin. I am now able to do so much more (and some of my personal experience into the characters in my novels with anxiety/mental health problems.) So take heart Jenny I have no doubt you will get there. xxx

  4. Thank you so much for all of these tips! Quite a few of them I haven’t heard before, which is always refreshing. I definitely see where you are coming from, with routine. I use those tips a lot with my depression as well. Another really good tip that my counselor gave is breathing. This really was a game changer for me! I also wrote a blog post on some other tips, and it would mean a lot to me if you checked it out! https://jewelimperfectlyme.wordpress.com/2018/10/21/hacks-for-dealing-with-anxiety-and-depression/
    XOXO,
    Jewel

  5. Setting small goals is something that has helped me massively when it comes to my anxiety. I’ve been actively working on overcoming a lot of my fears for the last five years and I always start off small. I’ve done a similar thing as you and started off going to the corner shop first and I’m working my way up to bigger shops. It really does make a huge difference to set small goals. Be super proud of yourself for what you’ve achieved, it’s really amazing!
    This was a really great post, Jenny. Thanks for sharing!

  6. even after having recovered from anxiety, it still takes me a LOT of effort to not go down that trap of overworking yourself and going hard on yourself.this was exactly what I needed this week.love the post xx

  7. Really great tips! Definitely agree with keeping things tidy, I actually had to leave my bedroom the other day because it was so messy that it gave me heart palpitations and you might think why didn’t I just keep it tidy but I’ve actually had a really bad week and all I’ve wanted to do was lie in bed and cry and so everywhere has become messy and that’s definitely making me feel worse. Probably handy that I read this post today, trying very hard to pick myself up! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Chloe xx
    http://www.chloechats.com

  8. You’re so right about taking small responsibilities. For so long I felt like avoiding the things that gave me anxiety would give me space to get better, but it’s just not true, The only way through anxiety is to allow the fear to be a part of your life, and start doing the stuff you want to do anyway. Anxiety only starts getting better when we demonstrate to our brains that there is nothing to be scared of, even if we’re feeling terrified at the time. Avoiding and hiding only shows our brains that yes, everything is threatening, and we should always be scared. I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m healing all the time 🙂

  9. Oh geez, I pick at my nails too! My cuticles always look terrible and 9/10 times I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I bought some cuticle oil and nail varnishes recently – something about having pretty nails makes me not want to pick at them I guess.

    You may not feel like a “normal” 26 year old, but there’s the secret: Nobody’s normal. Not a single one of us. I can play at the suave 31 year old Social Media Manager at work all I want, but I’m also the girl who will email or fax something to my apartment leasing office because going there in person makes me anxious.

    We all deal with some weird stuff and most of the time, we do the best we can. 🙂

  10. I agree with everything you’ve said. I have anxiety too and making sure I set small goals each day massively helps. Even if it’s just publishing a blog post or putting some washing on, it feels great to tick something off and feel productive. Keeping things tidy is a big one for me too. It can be hard to find the motivation at first but I usually find if my house is messy, my anxiety gets so much worse and my mind feels so cluttered! xxx

    Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk

  11. Such a great post. I suffer from anxiety too and setting small goals has been a huge help for me! Especially if I write a list and tick things off as I go (even tiny things like “empty bins”) as it creates a visual sense of achievement when I cross them off.

    I think I need to try more tidying/decluttering. I am so bad at it but see how it could be helpful.

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