Over the last few years my anxiety got the best of me and I’ll admit it wasn’t easy but with the help of Lyle, my family and myself (this one is important) I am truly at the happiest I’ve been in years. I understand that these tips won’t help everyone but don’t knock it till you try it..
Being totally honest, I decided from the very start that I didn’t want to take any medication for anxiety – note, I don’t think this is for everyone, I’ve saw first hand how the tablets work for some people but it’s not something I wanted. There are so many forms of anxiety and I’m still learning myself, I thought I was going crazy and with the help of forums, podcasts and other people speaking out it gave me comfort knowing I wasn’t the only one feeling this way. My anxiety is a strange one, I create certain scenarios in my head that I fear will actually happen and eventually it stopped me from leaving the house, going to parties, going to work – literally anything outside my four walls. My biggest fear was being sick.. now I know some people are probably thinking “why on earth would you be scared to vomit” it’s not actually being sick that worries me, it’s that I’ll be sick in public and embarrass myself. I’ll go into my personal anxiety and the root causes on another post, but all you need to know right now is that after following all these guidelines, I am finally at a stable and enjoyable place in my life.
Caffeine is not your friend!
I was the biggest coffee lover and would have minimum of two a day, not even for the caffeine, I literally love the taste of coffee. I listened to a podcast (I’ll go into more detail about podcasts) but the podcast advised that there are a number of things that don’t help your anxiety. Caffeine being the first one. I was at work when I was listening to this – with a redbull in my hand – and I chucked the redbull in the bin and have went cold turkey ever since. It’s now been 1 full year without any coffee or energy drinks and the results are amazing, I feel calm and less tired. Once my body got used to running on water and sleep instead of caffeine, I realised I didn’t need it. This was a really helpful tip and I would recommend even cutting down your intake of caffeine.
Exercise is a key factor!
Now I’m not saying hit the gym every single day but going a run twice a week or a cycle can help your mental health a lot, I notice it the most when cycling because I’m so focused on the track, using my feet and hands that my brain doesn’t have the time to think about my anxiety. Also, if I cycle for a long period of time or I get up a large hill I feel like I’ve accomplished something and lifts a weight off my shoulder, like my mind is letting me happy – mad I know. This will also help your energy levels, once you’re in a routine of exercising your body has more energy.
Talking to someone
Last year I was fortunate enough that my work paid for a private therapist that I saw twice a month. I found this really helpful because I got to speak to someone who had no idea who I was and there could be no judgement, she was just there to listen. I understand this isn’t always an option for everyone, there are free services online “Give us a shout” is a text platform, so if you don’t feel comfortable talking on the phone, this is a great one. Another great thing to do is open up to your family and friends. Don’t keep it suppressed like it’s a bad thing or it’s something to be embarrassed by, it’s definitely not! My boyfriend is the most understanding and supportive person and I’m so glad I opened up about how I felt and the support he provided has helped me get to this point today.
If you don’t want to speak to someone but would like to listen, podcasts are the way to go. I found the Anxiety Podcast by Tim JP Collins, there are now 417 episodes so you’re not short of material. I started listening to his podcasts when there were over 300 episodes already on it so I had a lot of catching up to do. He interacts and listens to his readers even though his podcast has millions of listeners. I wrote to Tim shortly after I started listening to his podcast to say how amazing the material was and I was so grateful for it and to my surprise he replied! – I also got my email read out on the show.. amazing I know – I like looking back on how I felt and I’m so grateful that he listened to my story and gave me advice on how to overcome my fears. If you want to hear my claim to fame its episode 371 time: 7.28.
I know you’re thinking what on earth do you mean breathing?? Breathing exercise are incredible! I didn’t realise how much they worked until I put them into practice. There are a few things you can do:
4-7-8 Method. This is when you breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds. I find this to be helpful if I’m in a crowd and I don’t want to draw attention to myself, no one knows that I’m counting in my head.
5 method – I would say this is more a method of how to calm my breathing, when I feel anxious I look around wherever I am and name 5 of the objects in the room and what’s their purpose. It sounds silly but a distraction is all it takes.
All of these things mixed with just being honest with myself and overcoming that fear has completely changed my outlook on my anxiety. My anxiety is never going to disappear but I’ve accepted that and I learned to manage and overcome it. I hope you find these tips useful!