Earlier today I had a post go up giving you all a little update on my anxiety. For those that don’t know I developed anxiety and started to panic attacks when I was about 14 years old. I am now nearly 22 and it is only in the last couple of years that I have started to open up about this part of myself and share it with my friends and family and people in my life. this means that I have spent nearly 8 years dealing with this on my own. Over those years I have found little tricks and methods to cope with my anxiety. So I thought that since it is mental health awareness week, that I would share some of my tricks with you. and hopefully help out someone else who is going through this alone.
Obviously all of these are things that work for me personally, we are all different, so you may not react the same but by all opening up just a little bit and sharing what we can we can all hopefully help someone who needs it and end the stigma surrounding mental health.
- Music is something that really, really helps me. I listen to a lot of music anyway but when I am feeling anxious, whether I am just a bit on edge or in full on panic, the first thing that I do is reach for my headphones. I put on music and just let my mind go. I have a playlist on my phone called Amazing Music which contains all of my all time favourite songs and artists and that is what I put on. There is just something about the music and the lyrics and just the noise that really helps to sooth me. I know some people swear by classical music, some by chill out songs, but it is whatever works for you.
- This is similar to the last one. I find that if I put on an audiobook and listen to it through headphones, I stop thinking. I concentrate so much on what is being said and focus so much on the story that everything else just shuts off. My brain stops whirling and I stop freefalling into panic.
- And a second point with this one is related to insomnia. In general I am insomniac. Most of the time I am functioning on a couple of hours sleep. I just really struggle with sleep. But when my anxiety is really bad I get anxiety induced insomnia and I can literally go days without sleeping. My head will be just in a constant whirlwind of anxiety and it is god awful. There is something about sitting in a dark room, in the middle of the night, on your own, that just makes you feel even worse. I have found a few tricks that work to help me to actually sleep when I am like this and one of those tricks is audiobooks. For me it has to be Harry Potter read by Stephen Fry. What I do is put in headphones and have it on the lowest volume. That way I have to really, really force myself to hear the audiobook and I am focusing so much on that that my brain shuts up and I can sleep. It has to be a book that you have already read and know well or you will end up getting completely sucked into the story and then will be awake for a whole other reason. A soothing narrator helps as well. (downside, I now instantly get sleepy whenever I hear Stephen Fry)
- I know that this probably seems obvious but it does really help. I have an app on my phone called Breathe which helps to make me really focus on my breathing. If I am feeling really anxious and breathing starts to go or when I am having a panic attack and am close to hyperventilating I open this app. Straight away it starts an animation that you match your breathing too (you set the timings when you get it to work for you) and you just watch the little waves and breathe in and out regain control of your lungs.
- Background noise
- This is one that will only help certain people. I cannot stand silence. When I am alone in a silent room I start to over think and instantly start to feel anxious. There is just something so wrong about silence, I hate it. this is the reason why I talk to myself sometimes, I just noise. But something that I have found that helps to stop a meltdown are websites like Ambient Mixer (https://www.ambient-mixer.com/). There are just hundreds of ambient noise files to play. For instance, there are things like crackling fires, or forests but also nerdy things like the Hogwarts Great Hall and Rivendell. It just adds some noise into the world without it being overwhelming.
- As much as I hate to say it, it’s true. Exercise does help. I try and work out at least once a week and it really does help. Afterwards I feel lighter and happier and more in control of myself. Just running for 10 minutes leaves me feeling like I am in charge on my anxiety, it isn’t in charge of me. Similarly, eating well. I find the more crap I eat the worse my anxiety is. When my anxiety is really bad I will just go for a walk. Something about the movement and the fresh air and all of it just really helps to soothe me
- A Trusted Person
- There are two people in my life that I know will always be able to snap me out of a panic attack or just stop me feeling anxious. If I am feeling really bad I will go to one of them or call them. they both know everything about my anxiety and know how to help me. They also both know how to spot the signs (as I tend to shut down and lock everything in when I am feeling anxious) and know how to help me. It is so terrifying reaching out to someone but it is a really nice safety net to have. I know that I can always rely on these people.
- Removing Yourself From A Situation
- Do not be afraid to just leave. Walk away. If someone is making you uncomfortable get away from them, if a place is putting you on edge then leave, if a situation is making you anxious then walk away from it. it has taken me a really long time to release that it is okay to seem rude if it saves your head. If I am at work and am anxious, I just ask my colleague to cover for me and I go and sit in the quite, on my own, for 10 minutes and just breathe and sort my head out. people will understand. Similarly, say no. if you are asked to do something that riggers you, say no. it is not worth it.
- Find What Works For You
- I have tried a lot over the years in order to handle my anxiety. I have tried meditation, yoga, listening to classical music, keeping a mood journal, having allotted ‘worry’ times and so much more. But everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. It is all about finding what works for you.
The best advice that I can give you is to believe in yourself. If you believe that you are able to control this thing, then you can. If you find what works for you then you will always have the tools you need to help yourself when your brain decides to fuck you over. I really hope that this post has helped you in some small way. I have left some links below where you can find help if you need it as well as my email address. I am always here to talk. Just remember that you are not alone and that you are loved. And I will see you all again soon.
Mind UK – 0300 123 3393 (or text 86463)
Samaritans – 116 123
Crisis Helpline (USA) – 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
My Email Address – firstname.lastname@example.org (I check it daily)