Anxiety (among all other mental health issues) is something we need to stop being afraid of talking about – I’m not the first person to say and I most definitely won’t be the last. In order for us to actually banish the stigma behind mental health, we all have to work together and fight against it. Just saying.
Anxiety affects pretty much all of us in one way or another and it most often comes without warning. And whilst there doesn’t always have to an active stimuli for your anxiety to rears its ugly head, there sometimes is – whether you’ve got a fast approaching deadline at work or you’re in a crowded shopping centre, anxiety comes in all shapes and forms. Sometimes you can have a panic attack, sometimes you just feel a little anxious or on edge, you could get snappy and verbally aggressive – anxiety takes so many forms and it annoys me when people think that a panic attack is just a racing heart and cold sweats. Nope. Everyone deals with anxiety and panic in different ways and panic attacks can be anything from staying silent and not saying a word to like I said before, snapping at loved ones and getting angry.
Anyway, it seems I’ve digressed – surprise surprise – and now I shall get back to my point! There is always something you can do help reduce your anxiety in the first instance, even if it’s only a little bit, and I’ve come up with a few of my tried and tested. The first step to reducing it however, is to accept it. There’s no point fighting against the idea that you are feeling anxious, it’s just going to make you feel worse and in turn, make your anxiety worse. So, accept and you’re halfway there.
GO TO BED ON TIME
Set a reminder for yourself to start thinking about bed at a certain time and try and be consistent with it, we are creatures of habit and breaking the habit can sometimes have detrimental effects on us. Numerous of studies have shown that being tired and grouchy can heighten emotions, especially anxiety. When you’re tired you will find that it’s a little trickier to rationally deal with emotions, and that counts for all emotions – happy, sad, worried, etc – but it absolutely true for anxiety. A situation that may usually just make you a little worried or uneasy will be escalated massively if you’re too sleep deprived and you will most likely find that your anxiety reaches a high. So in a bid to keep anxiety to a minimum, try and get a decent nights sleep – go to bed at a reasonable time and wake up at a reasonable time.
TELL YOURSELF THAT IT’S OKAY
As you will probably have experienced, we are our worst criticisers. Anxiety comes along in the strangest of times, it can pop up even if you are doing all the right things and whilst that is incredibly frustrating, it also causes us to think it’s our fault. But it’s not. Tell yourself that it’s okay, that this anxiety attack is no ones fault – especially not yours. Also, as soon you believe that it’s okay, then you will instantly feel yourself calm down a little bit – your muscles loosen up, your heart rate slows down a bit and your breathing becomes steadier. Just that one simple thought could be all you needed to bring yourself back to the ground.
LIMIT YOUR CAFFEINE INTAKE
A coffee in the morning is truly fabulous and I for one don’t think I could function without it but it could be doing you more harm than you first realised. Caffeine, as you know, is a stimulant and therefore triggers your flight or fight response. By limiting how much coffee or fizz you drink you lower your risk of a panic attack because your heart won’t be racing as fast. I’m not saying cut the coffee completely, but at least be mindful of how much you drink or switch to decaf.
CHANGE YOUR LIFESTYLE
I know, this sounds quite drastic but hear me out! You only have to make a few tweaks but they have the potential to change your life. Wake up a little earlier than usual and take time to meditate or do some yoga, this will clear your head and prepare you well for the day. Drink lots of water and eat your veggies, if you treat your body well and feed it properly, it will repay you. Use mindfulness on a regular basis, this will help you connect with your mind and body on deeper level and help you understand and validate your emotions, therefore helping you deal with your anxiety better. Establish a morning routine. Take time for yourself and dedicate parts of your day to self-care, your body needs the rest. There are a million and one ways that you can make little tweaks to your life and they can really make a massive difference.
**Disclaimer – I am not a medical professional, these are just suggestions from my own personal experience. Please see a doctor if your symptoms are unmanageable, they can advise on the best step to take next.**