Over the years I have developed a bit of a ‘sixth sense’ in recognising when my anxiety is returning and making itself known. For it does, once in a while, not in that overwhelming, panic-stricken, flipping awful way that it used to, when it was virtually in control of my life, no. Now it is a little more subtle, it creeps up on me, it builds over time and then, all of a sudden it’s there again, like an unwelcome house guest.
It can be pretty hard to shift as it still knows which buttons to press and exactly where all the old skeletons are buried. If I am lucky enough to catch it in its early stages, I now have a bit of a routine, a list of things that I turn to take some of the pressure off and help gently dissipate my anxiety before it can take over. I would love to share them, so here you go
Speak to someone
You don’t have to talk specifics here or go into details just get whatever it is off your chest. By keeping something to ourselves we are often in danger of over-analysing it or blowing it out of proportion. Talking about your anxiety and getting some reassurance from someone else or just having someone there to listen can make a big difference. Don’t have someone at the moment? Then write it down instead. Getting whatever it is; out is the key here.
Avoid social media or the news
Sometimes everyone on social media seems to be living the perfect life, doing so many things that you aren’t or cant. Of course they are not really; they are often just projecting an image. If you are starting to feel anxious, seeing this can be the last thing you need, it is just going to make you feel bad. Thinking I have to meet with others expectations is a sure way of giving my anxiety a boost. As for the news being bombarded with stories about things totally out of my control makes me feel powerless and gives me another thing to constantly worry about. Both are best avoided at least a couple of days a week.
Avoid too much alcohol
It’s not the actual drinking that is the problem here, it’s the next day. I can feel great the night before but the day after, with a hangover my anxiety can go into overdrive, coupled with a headache it can be a truly awful place to be. They don’t call it ‘the horrors’ for nothing. Try and limit yourself and think about the next day!
Develop good sleep habits
Have a set bedtime and set an alarm for the morning. Avoid your phone for a good hour before sleeping and read something light or fun (not a big reader, then get a picture book instead) in bed until you are sleepy. As you start to fall asleep have a ‘happy place’ where you can go and focus on that. Try not to let your mind wander. If you wake up in the middle of the night, develop a ‘drill’ where you calm yourself down and focus back on that happy place before your mind starts to concentrate on negative, anxiety inducing thoughts.
Find something to lose yourself in
When the world around you starts to feel out of your control, find something to do that you have total control over. Could be exercise, could be cleaning the house or a hobby you love to do. For me it’s cooking, I go into my own little world, become totally focused and total say in terms of what I am doing. It’s my little fortress that anxiety just cannot enter. What’s yours?
Know when to fight your battles
If I am in a really low energy state or tired or have had some disappointing news I am totally prone to anxiety and it will pounce on me if I let it and it will be difficult to fight it off. I, therefore, need to just accept that it has won this battle and tough it out or find something to distract myself.
If on the other hand I am in a really high energy mood and am feeling confident and great, I know I am in a state to maybe confront my anxiety head-on, see it for what it is and put it in its place and chances are I will succeed. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a dramatic confrontation just chipping away when you are feeling positive is just as good.
Meditate or do breathing exercises
This is a great way of calming down and gently dissipating or quieting negative thoughts. This is my go to if the panic button is pressed and my anxiety is really flaring up. I know that if I go to a quiet place for just a few minutes, breathing, clearing my mind I can gain back some control. If you can develop a routine of meditating regularly then that’s even better, as the more you do it, the more effective it can be.
Having too much energy can be a bad thing. Too much energy stops you from sleeping properly, can make you feel agitated and nervous if you are sitting about all day. For me my anxiety thrives on excess energy. You don’t have to be going to the gym or having some crazy workout, a daily walk will do the trick, something just enough to keep those energy levels in check.
Change your coms
There is nothing worse than waiting for someone to respond to a text or a WhatsApp. All sorts of things can come into your head; did you say the right thing? What’s that person thinking, did you say it in the right way. This is all perfect anxiety inducing stuff, so much so I now pick up the phone, especially if I want to talk about something important. I am a lot better at expressing myself talking than I am writing in a text, plus you hear back instantly and can tell from the person’s voice, how they may be feeling. Yes it can feel like a challenge to pick up the phone sometimes, but it’s often worth it.
Recognise your triggers
If you know that a certain situation is likely to make your anxiety worse, then either avoid it or limit your exposure it to it. For me, if I am in a low state and feeling pretty fragile I try and avoid anything that will make me feel worse. When I am in a good place, then I know I will be in a position to be able to deal with it. When it comes to my anxiety I have a pretty good idea now what will trigger it, this now gives me more choice in how I manage it, allowing me to limit being overwhelmed unexpectedly.
Hope that helps?
Maybe give some of these a try if you find your anxiety trying to take hold of things?