02 January 2015

Dealing With Anxiety

Flowers from Ferguson Flowers
I am the most out-going person you will ever meet but for many years, I have struggled with anxiety. Initially, it was something that came in bouts at stressful times but in my late teens it started to become a daily struggle. Although I do feel like it is a lot better now, I still do have terrible bouts. I had a bout recently that made me feel I was back to square one but luckily I have learned some great methods to deal with my anxiety. Thanks to a great therapist (that I have no shame in admitting I use!) and some great friends, the anxiety has become easier to deal with. I think anxiety is something that people often make light of but it can cause so many problems emotionally and physically if it is a daily occurrence. I hope anyone who struggles with their anxiety finds some comfort in my tips. (N.B. I am not a doctor or a therapist, these are just tips from my own experiences that I hope you find helpful)

1. Know your triggers
If you are someone who suffers from anxiety, you will know there is something that will set you off. For me, it's that feeling of being overwhelmed. With my last bout of anxiety I had started a new university course, attended 3 funerals in 3 weeks and had been struck down with the shingles all within the space of a month. I literally was knocked off my feet and didn't know what to do. For many people, exam stress is a big trigger. In many ways, it's like spotting the signs of a cold before you wake up with a head like a sponge. Unable to sleep? Feeling very restless? The anxiety might be creeping back in slowly but surely. 

2. Find your comfort blanket
Once you've realised that you are having an anxious episode, what can you automatically do or who can you turn to? I always find that going for a big long walk can really help to clear my head and calm me down. Often it means just taking a day to do nothing but watch rubbish TV on the sofa but sometimes it means you may need to have a person that you can turn to whether that be a parent, friend or medical professional. 

3. Talk it out
Post grabbing on to your comfort blanket (metaphorical or physical blanket!), seek to talk about what is bothering you. I have found that by far, this is the easiest method of helping to bring down the anxiety levels. At first, it might be hard to open up to someone if you have never discussed your anxiety issues before but you will soon find that a great friend will be encouraging and helpful. 

4. Breathe easy
With my anxiety, comes a lot of panic and the odd panic attack. It's great to remember to keep your breathing in check. Using an app like Breathe2Relax on your phone for five minutes can help to simmer down some of the anxiety you are feeling. There are lots of apps you can choose from or even just stick some calming music on for a few minutes and shut your eyes. It took me a long time to get into the habit of this but once you do, you realise how simple and effective it is. 

I hope my tips helped you and wherever you are in your anxiety journey, that 2015 brings some relief for you.