Anxiety can feel like an unpleasant thought chipping away at you or a heavy feeling in your chest – like someone has lodged a bag of marbles in there for safe keeping. You can try to ignore it, but it often builds up until the flood gates open and you’re dependent on a brown paper bag to breathe.
Everyone has their own trigger, mine is often a feeling of inadequacy or low self-esteem. My mum often tells me to pretend I am on the stage and I think back to my role of the Scarecrow in the school’s production of the Wizard of Oz. My collar bones throbbed from the nerves bubbling up inside me and I watched the bruise grow larger on my leg after every comical fall. But I sang my heart out all the same and there was nothing quite like the flurry of butterflies I felt when the crowd burst into applause. It was a real confidence boost, but without the tattered trousers and the painted on carrot nose I can only be me – it’s hard to play pretend without the mask.
Waving the white flag and having an utter meltdown can make you feel at your lowest, so over the years I have developed my own coping mechanisms to combat anxiety. I hope that by sharing these tips, I can help others to come to terms with their own struggle, making their lives that little bit easier.
First things first….
Do What You Love
The best way to combat anxiety is by doing something you love…
Soak in a bubble bath complete with a glittery bath bomb and candles. Dance around the house like no one is watching. Go for a run and beat your personal best time. Different things work for different people.
Adult colouring books have become a popular tool for beating stress and anxiety. Why not grab a copy and spend some time day dreaming whilst shading intricate patterns? Or if you’re feeling a little crazy colour outside of the lines, I dare you.
A problem shared, is a problem halved
Talking things out with friends will give you an instant wave of relief. Sometimes all you need is one of your loved ones to put a positive spin on things to put everything into perspective.
However, far too often I have been asked “why are you crying?” and I can’t pinpoint the reasons why. Anxiety can creep up on you out of nowhere causing a reaction that others may not understand.
In this instance, it’s good to take a little time out and go for a little wander because (although they mean well) people constantly asking if you’re ok and trying to give you a hug may make you feel more vulnerable and upset. Once you have calmed down, you can explain that you needed a little time to compose yourself.
When you’re on the verge of a panic attack it’s important to take deep breaths and try to calm down, but that’s never an easy task- especially when you’re away from the comfort of home.
To distract yourself from unpleasant feelings try to concentrate on the area around you, focus on the individual sights, sounds and smells until you can feel our heart rate return to normal and you feel much better.
Visualising a happier and peaceful time works a treat. I often think back to Santorini; lounging on the beach with my toes dipped in the warm water and the waves crashing against the shore, sending pebbles cascading into the water.
If you struggle to visualise, why not create a playlist on your iPod to remind you of good times. That way when you’re feeling a little blue you can pop your headphones in and those happy memories will soon come flooding back. But remember- good vibes only – don’t listen to the songs that got you through a break up back in 2010.
Search for Inspiration
I often search for inspiring quotes on Pinterest to give myself a little shove in the right direction and eliminate any self-doubt.
Trawl the internet and search for a quote that you can really relate to, frame it and place it somewhere that you will see on a daily basis. Perhaps on your bedside table so that it’s the first thing you see when you kick start your day.
Here’s a few to get you started:
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”- Neale Donald Walsch
“Anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve”- J.K. Rowling
“You’re only given a little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”- Robin Williams
Conquer your fears
I feel silly for saying this, but I used to be terrified of getting on public transport on my own. Before I stepped on a train I would ask at least three people where it was headed for fear of ending up on the opposite side of the country. Even when I was on the train I would be frantically listening for announcements to ensure I didn’t miss my stop. Nowadays I really enjoy train journeys; it’s the only time that I can completely switch off for a while, watching the world blur passed the window. What’s the reason for this change? I kept forcing myself to do it until it became second nature.
One final thing before you go, pick up a copy of Calm: Calm the mind. Change the world by Michael Acton Smith, it’s a fantastic book with lots of useful activities that you can dip in and out of when you’re feeling particularly stressed or anxious.
Thanks for reading this post I hope that you find it useful. Feel free to share some tips of your own in the comments section below or tweet me @cloclocreative