8.25.2016

Anxious?

LSo last time I think I said I would give you some of my ways of coping with anxiety. Easier said than done! I started to make a rough guide then realised that what I was trying to condense into one post was actually about 3 posts worth. So today I'm going to talk about one kind, and save the others for if you want to hear them. Also want to make a disclaimer that this is my definition of anxiety, it might not be the same as yours, and what works for me might not work for you but even if one thing rings true or it gives someone comfort to know others feel they aren't alone in feeling like this, it's good enough for me.

So, on with the post. What I've been suffering with lately is generalised anxiety and low mood. I also get triggered anxiety which I would describe more as panic, which I'll talk about another time. The general anxiety and low mood, even depressive episodes is the most horrible feeling. It can come on quickly, you don't know when it will lift, and often makes you feel low, worthless and that everything is pointless or hopeless. It is hideous. I am in no shape or form an expert in dealing with this, far from it, but I'm getting to understand it a bit more and sometimes find that certain things help just a little.  

Often when the dark cloud descends I don't want to do anything. At all. And you couldn't suggest anything to interest me. I get that. However, my first tip would be, listen to your body and mind, and look for the windows of opportunity. So if you feel the darkness swallowing you up, or in my case, notice yourself getting angry or with little patience, learn to notice and get yourself to a safe place or at least be forewarned and forearmed. I find it really useful to recognise when emotions are overtaking me and to be able to step back a tiny bit and make it a little easier on myself. 

Second, what would make you feel better? Not as in, "cure all make it all better' as that doesn't exist but what would make you feel a tiny bit less despairing/ more calm? Laying on your bed staring at the wall? Crying? Punching a pillow? Curling up under a blanket? Whatever it is, do it. Think less about what you should be doing and more what would help even the tiniest bit. Suppressing everything inside often makes my bad times last longer. 

When you aren't at the absolute worst of your anxiety there are two things I recommend. Take a minute to think just how awful you felt, as though nothing would ever be any better than miserable. Realise that even if you aren't feeling happy or even content yet, you don't feel quite as bad as you did. Emotions and situations are temporary, you will not always feel like this. You have to be patient and ride it out but just recognising that how you feel changes so often if you actually pay attention makes you feel a little less desperate and hopeless. 

The other is to try and think of something that might make you feel content. Nothing earth shattering and do not, do not, put pressure on yourself to think of something or else you're not moving forward. Be kind do yourself even if it's the last thing you think you deserve. Below are some of the things that have helped me a lot over the last few weeks and long term, small but practical steps.

Reading

I literally read three books non stop, like an addiction. However it helps me in several ways, it's an escape, it can sometimes help me realease emotions I couldn't otherwise let go, and it's an easy low energy thing to focus on. I love books anyway but they become a lifeline when I'm struggling. 


Getting outside

This one was against all my better instincts but actually helped a lot. I hate being too hot and flying bugs and sweaty etc but I properly thought about what might help me and decided to take my breakfast out into the garden a couple of days. Then I spent virtually a whole day out there which I haven't doe since I was a kid! Brought back some nice memories and was a surprising way to help.



Gratitude
Trying to think of one thing a day that you're grateful for and then maybe 2 or 3 things. This one is proven to help people be happier as well as just being a nice one to try and helping you to again realise not everything is quite as awful as it seems. Things you often don't even think of. Being in ICU made me realise a lot of these as when you can't do them, you bloody miss them and realise how much you took them for granted. "I can see/hear/ speak"  " I have a roof over my head" " I really enjoyed ____ today" "I felt the sun on my skin" " I had a cold refreshing drink". 
Mindfulness is to me a slightly different way of looking at this. Rather than considering what you are thank ful, mindfulness is actually tuning in to enjoying it. So sipping a hot chocolate and focusing on how it tastes, smells, they way it warms your throat....... Appreciate being in the moment.

 Showers or baths
Showers become a huge indulgence. I think tactile things really help me. The warm water on my skin, the quietness, solitude, I can cry in there and no one knows, I feel clean and calmer after a shower. Once I realised this I thought how I could make it even nicer. I bought some of my favourite shower gels, sometimes I use a dry body brush or moisturiser. Whatever makes you feel a bit comforted! Massage, manicure or just painting my nails can do wonders.

Creative

I've always been a creative person, but sometimes even the most repetitive mindless tasks are really good for just zoning out a bit. My business is cake making and decorating, so dying fondant or cutting out shapes over and over can prove really helpful to provide a focus without the pressure to be "perfect". Any crafts I can do when exhausted are great for me, sewing, drawing, and calligraphy are current faves. Beware though, if you start to get frustrated leave it, I often get like this and it can make me feel much worse. Don't fall into the trap. Try something like a puzzle, sudoku, watch a film, a series (God Netflix is heaven to me! Especially Once Upon A Time) gardening, gaming, whatever works for you. 


Eat or drink

Obviously not to an unhealthy extent but the odd bit of what you enjoy, a Starbucks, coffee, tea, the odd piece of chocolate, a takeaway or something you really fancy, can help a bit. Don't be petty with yourself, it's again about being gentle with yourself. 

Make your space inviting

For me, rather randomly, fresh flowers give me a little boost. They just lift my spirits a little. Weird things like the sensation of a soft blanket, or the soft glow of a candle can all soothe my soul when it feels my nerves are a bit jagged. 



I'm sorry if this has been a bit waffley and not helpful but I hope if nothing else it might kick start some ideas of your own that might work for you. If you are struggling, please know you're not alone. Things will seem brighter I promise. 
I'm also going to take the time to say, if you are having a bad time, think about seeking help. I've spoken to several therapists, some have been helpful others haven't. It's often the last thing you want to deal with but they can help. If you had flu, or a broken leg you would seek out help from a professional to assist you, mental health is no different. 

Let me know if this was useful/helpful/ pants, and if you'd like to read similar posts and if you have your own tips/ advice or experiences I'd love to hear them xxxx

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