Anxiety sucks, it just plain sucks. The truth is we have anxiety for a reason, yes anxiety to some degree is helpful, and we all have it. It is the bad feeling in your stomach when you are walking down a dark street in the middle of the night. It is that dreaded feeling when we are a passenger in a speeding car. Anxiety is there to warn us that something is dangerous, or wrong, it can protect us, and prevent us from getting seriously hurt. Anxiety can be our saviour and even our friend.
But ask anyone who suffers from anxiety at a level that affects daily functioning and the last thing they will call anxiety is their friend, in fact it feels more like an evil enemy. Anxiety at an unhealthy level can leave people crippled with fear and unable to face even the simplest of daily tasks. It is important to recognise if it is stopping you living a happy, active and productive life, if you feel it is then it is time to shine a light on that hidden monster under the bed.
Anxiety is a normal and adaptive way of our body warning us that we are being threatened, so managing anxiety is not about eliminating it all together, it is about getting under control so that you can function in everyday life without living in fear of things that you don’t actually need to be in fear of.
Anxiety really only becomes unhealthy when we worry, or perceive a danger when there is no actual danger to our life or wellbeing.
I am not going to pretend I am an expert on anxiety, as I said before we all have anxiety, we just have different levels of it. So I think we can all benefit from advice on how to deal with anxiety when it becomes too much. To live with a mind healthy, and a balanced life we all need to take care of ourselves mentally and physically.
- Sleep: You need to get sleep, and not just 4 hours, and also not 12 hours, we should really aim for as close to 8 hours as possible.
- Physical activity: We all need to move, whether it is strenuous exercise, or gentle isn’t important, any type of movement is great for us. People seem to believe we only need to exercise for physical health, but exercise is hugely beneficial for our mental health. Try and get out for a walk, run, swim, or do some stretching. Move anywhere, any time.
- Focus time: This means using your brain. Whether this is at your job, or studying, or reading a book. Perhaps it’s reading a blog, in fact you are doing that right now. Spend some time everyday reading or learning.
- Reflection: Take some time every day to think about you, some time to think about what you want or need in your life to be at peace. Meditation is great for this. I highly recommend mindfulness.
- Relaxation: This can be anything that you find relaxing, a bath, a walk, watching a favourite show, reading a favourite blog. “Me time.“
- Fun: This involves doing something you really love, anything you consider fun. Maybe playing with your kids, or puppy. Going out for coffee, rollerskating, photography, or gardening.
- Connecting with others: It is important not to isolate yourself. When you feel overwhelmed it is easy to shut off communication or cancel catch ups with others, but this will only make you worse. You need to push yourself to talk to friends and/or family. Stay connected. It is fine to enjoy some solitude, but also spend time with people who care, or who you have fun with.
- Challenge: Challenge negative thoughts and perceptions. Sometimes keeping a worry diary helps. Write down your fear or worry and ask yourself how likely is that to really happen. And if it was to happen think about whether you could actually handle it. Ask yourself what is the best thing that could happen too!
- Gratitude: Being thankful is a great way to reduce anxiety, it helps you focus on the good in your life.
Hope you found these tips helpful. Remember to enjoy your life and embrace new adventures. If you are feeling like anxiety is preventing you from achieving your goals, or living a happy, healthy lifestyle then do not be afraid to seek help.
Do you have any suggestions to add? Feel free to leave me a comment. Love Mac