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.