For anyone who's suffered from anxiety you'll understand it's one of the most difficult challenges a person can deal with. Day to day things become a struggle when you're consumed by something that's making you feel as though you're looking through life with a hazey grey filter. Everything ends up being a challenge, even just walking to the shops. You feel jumpy, scared, paranoid, stressed, tired, grumpy, irritable, sad, alone, worried, tearful...and that's just to name a few.
Personally I've struggled with anxiety for most of my life, but it's something I've learnt to deal with. I don't think it ever really goes away, but there are certainly times where it's lurking around in the background rather than being at the forefront of my mind. I'm not saying there aren't times where all I want to do is crawl into my bed and never go outside again, but I promise you it gets better. There are so many ways you can help yourself. What some people don't realise is anxiety is not just something that makes you feel a 'little bit stressed or worried', it's very closely linked to depression. It's difficult to sleep, hard to concentrate on anything other than all the negative things in your life/around you, and it's especially hard to feel confident in yourself; to put yourself out there for people to see. Which can mean making new friends and meeting new people is extremely daunting.
I find when I'm at my most anxious it's so hard to get myself out of bed in the mornings, the thought of facing the day terrifies me. But I've come up with ways that make me feel that bit better about taking those first steps into the morning.
Surround yourself with the people you love.
Sounds like an obvious one, but seriously, spending time with the people in your life who care about you and who you can trust makes a big difference. A long time ago I decided I was only going to spend time with the individuals who made me a better person, the ones who are there for me and the ones who are good honest people. Surrounding yourself with people that make you feel inferior or intimidated is only going to make you feel a whole lot worse.
Be honest with yourself and talk about what scares you.
If you suffer from anxiety be honest with yourself and accept it, it makes it easier to move onto the next steps of getting help. Being honest with the people in your life helps too, I often forget to give people the benefit of the doubt, but you'll be pleasantly surprised about how human we all are. Fortunately I have a supporting family and partner who help me through everything I throw at them. Although unfortunately I know that not everyone is as lucky, but there are still people out there who want to help. Websites such as anxiety UK have a huge support system in place ready to help anyone who needs it.
Look after YOU!
I've spent a lot of time looking after other people and it's only as I near my mid 20's that I realise I am important too! Looking after yourself if so important for your own welfare, making sure you find the time to do the things you enjoy makes a huge difference to your mood. I find pampering myself and looking after me helps me to focus on things other than the way I'm feeling. Keeping your mind focused and busy just brings a sort of peace that I can't explain.
I'm not going to sit here and preach that you should be eating organic healthy tasteless junk, but you do need to eat. Your body is a machine and without fuel it won't run. Especially if like a lot of people that suffer from anxiety you're not sleeping. Don't stress about what you're eating, when you're feeling the way you are the last thing you need to be worrying about is counting calories! Eat what tastes good and concentrate on your mental state instead.
One thing I would insist on is that alcohol is a no no! It's depressant and in no way will help the way you're feeling. Granted I'm as partial to an alcoholic beverage as much as the next person but certainly in large quantities when I know my anxiety is lurking. It may make you feel warm and fuzzy on the night, but trust me the next week will be so much worse, it's just not worth it.
Focus on the things you enjoy.
When my anxiety is at it's peak, I personally like to be in the safety of my flat, I don't like going out particularly and often I just want to try to relax. I think in moderation this is okay, it's what makes me happy and what makes me feel calm. Finding your 'safe place' is a really good way of controlling your anxiety, it's somewhere you can go where you feel comfortable and able to unwind.
However I also find it important to make sure that when I'm feeling especially awful I don't slip into a routine of never leaving the house. It's what makes you feel isolated and can often lead to depression. I'm not by any means saying it's easy, I know first hand it's not and often I find myself needing to sit and realise I'm not even taking my own advice. But sometimes it's crucial to push yourself, just baby steps at first, perhaps just trying to do one new thing a month, or meeting one new person, trust me it will help, don't let anxiety consume you! Slowly but surely you start to feel more confident and when that grey hazey filter starts to clear, doing these baby steps feels a lot less daunting.
The tiny things like painting my nails, writing a blog post, watching a new series on tv, spending time with my family and friends are what help me day to day. They may seem small but they're what I enjoy and focusing on these things help to take my mind off what I'm feeling.
Find out what's making you feel this way.
It's often hard to establish why it is we feel the way we do. But writing it down is very therapeutic. When all your stresses and worries are swirling around in your head filling you with white noise, it's hard to concentrate on anything else. Writing everything that's on your mind clearly for you to see helps so much. Think of it as taking them out of your mind and throwing them onto a piece of paper instead. It also helps to rationalise the things you're worried about, looking at them in one sentence is far less intimidating that having them float around in your head. I like to make a tick list of all the things that I know are contributing to the way I'm feeling and slowly work through getting rid of them, or taming them at least.
Obviously all of these things are what work for me but I would be overjoyed if I could help at least one person with being honest about what helps me.
Remember to be proud of who you are; this will not define you. I promise (: