Managing Anxiety

The one thing that holds me back the most is anxiety, without a doubt. That crippling feeling in your stomach and you feel like you’re going vomit everywhere or pass out.

I think what I struggle with as well is that a lot of people don’t actually know what living with constant anxiety actually feels like. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I know that everyone has suffered with anxiety at some point in their life but it is different when you can’t escape it. Anxiety is my shadow, it follows me everywhere and I cannot get rid of it; sometimes it can’t be seen or felt and I am okay but most of the time it clings on to me for dear life. I have a weird relationship with anxiety, I cannot seem to make it go away but I have become pretty good at managing it. Obviously, not all of the time, but I give it a good go!

I thought that I would share with you all the coping mechanisms that I use and I hope that it may be able to benefit you as well 😊

A technique that I was given at a group therapy once is the S.T.O.P technique:

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I have had this laminated and I used to have it on my desk at all times because it was a small reminder that I can control anxiety at any time. This mechanism is used to put anxiety in perspective of the wider picture. When you stop what you’re doing, take a breath and observe what is going on around you it can distract you from what is going on inside your mind. Once you have it in perspective, it makes it so much easier to go about the task that you were doing and focus on other things beside anxiety.

My favourite of all techniques that I have learned is Square Breathing, the instructions for this are as follows:

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It seems super simple because it is. Everyone in the mental health field will tell you that breathing is the best way to handle the emotions that you are feeling and they are correct. The reason that I find Square Breathing so effective is because it can be done anywhere. If you think about it, wherever you are, there is something ‘square-ish’ that can enable you to follow the above diagram. Square Breathing is practical for busy everyday lives and it really is a two minute life saver. So as shown above, you start at the bottom left of the square and follow it up, inhaling for 4 seconds. Hold that breath along the top line of the square for four seconds and then breathe out down the right side for 6 seconds. Finally, you hold for two seconds whilst follow across the bottom line. This can be repeated as necessary and it is guaranteed to reduce your stress levels. The breathing will help reduce your heart rate and relax your body and your muscles, this sends a message to your brain making it think that you are relaxed therefore the feelings of anxiety start to subside.

The following technique is one that I find is most beneficial at night:

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As you may or may not know, anxiety and other mental health issues can bring on insomnia because your brain cannot switch off from what you are feeling and experiencing. Body Scan’s are wonderful for when you’re lying in bed of a night because it is dark, quiet and easier to concentrate. Follow the steps on the diagram and I promise that you will feel relaxed enough to fall asleep without hassle.

Finally, Mindful Yoga. I think that this is important for people who either cannot exercise because they’re overweight/have physical difficulties with exercising/have an injury or those who simply do not have the time. Mindful Yoga can be used as an exercise to tone muscle and to burn calories as well as clear the mind with deep breathing and relaxation. My friend said to me today that since she has not been able to run, her anxiety has become a lot worse. I think that Yoga is a perfect way to combine exercise, mindfulness and mental health to battle a lot of different symptoms.

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If you haven’t tried this yet, there are plenty of resources and videos online which can help you with the best techniques for Mindful Yoga and I definitely recommend that you do some research on it!

Although anxiety can put you under a lot of stress and discomfort, it is always important to know the following:

  1. No matter what you think, you’re not alone – there are plenty of other people out there who know exactly how you’re feeling so please do not feel as though you are stupid. I can guarantee that there are plenty of people who understand what you’re going through and will be happy to talk to you about it. For example, me! Please just comment or send me a message and I will be more than happy to talk to you 😊
  2. Anxiety can be managed – when you feel as though you can’t handle it anymore, please just try one of these techniques. Honestly, at least one of them will work for you.
  3. You are amazing! Just think, you are dealing with all of these complicated emotions and dealing with all of the things in your life at the same time. If you were really as weak as you thought you were, you would not be able to do what you’re doing. Our bodies and minds are more capable than what we think they are.

I hope that at least one person can have a little more control over their anxiety after reading this.

As mentioned above, I am more than happy to talk to anyone who would like to ask any questions or need any support.

Again, thank you for reading!

– J

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