For me, anxiety feels like I’m drowning in a pool of disappointment, fear, shame, upset and exhaustion. It’s as though I’ve done something bad that I’m about to be caught out for but I’m not sure what that is. And then as a result, I’m on edge and ready to make my escape to Mexico if I have to.
Sort of like what it would feel like if you ran over your best friend’s dog I imagine.
And so, with moments like this, I’ve made it my mission to find ways that I can MANAGE it. And I hope that some of these may help you to manage yours too.
1) A solid diet. Think wholefoods such as meat, vegetables, fruit and healthy fats like salmon, avocado and nuts. I tend to stick to high quality white dairy in the form of fetta and goats cheese and keep gluten to a bare minimum for the simple fact I notice I’m less “foggy” when I steer clear. I’m a bread lover at heart though so I indulge in sourdough no more than once a week. Slathered in avocado and fetta of course.
2) Plenty of sleep. In an ideal world I aim for 8 hours per night AND stock up on naps at the weekend. I used to feel guilty for taking a snooze during the day but now I relish this time and see it as a way of rebooting my system! Plus I like to get up early instead of laying in so surely I’m just taking what’s mine to begin with??
3) Moving my backside! Exercise has been a MASSIVE factor in keeping my anxiety at bay and those feel good endorphins rarely let me down. I like to keep my workouts as varied possible and add in walks with friends because let’s face it; every girl loves a good gossip. A word of warning about over training however… I learnt quickly that pushing myself too far can have the opposite affect and send me into a frenzy of anxiety so it’s worth listening to your body and taking a rest when you need it. Over time it gets easier to recognise a genuine need to skip the gym OR that girl who just wants to lay in.
4) Play time. I’m never growing up people and I encourage you to do the same! Allowing myself to be silly and laugh puts me in a positive frame of mind and keeps those negative vibes at bay.
5) Less if not no processed sugar altogether. Yep, I’m sorry to be the boring police but ice cream and chocolate digestives might taste good (and trust me, I know!) but they’re not going to do your anxiety any good. The elevated sugar levels in the body cause an instant high which is closely followed by a crash of lows, definitely not what you want on an already strained mind.
6) Emma time. There was once a time I hated being alone; now I cherish it. I’ll always be a people person but switching off occasionally helps me to be my best around others. Whether it’s meditation, a hot bath with a good book or singing into my hairbrush, these are the moments that help me to centre and refocus. A grounded Emma is a much happier Emma.
7) Talk openly about anxiety. Four years ago I thought I was this weird kid that just needed to do things in 4’s because that’s me and no one should know about my strange ways. Fast forward to today and I’m an advocate for sharing experiences and being a part of a movement that doesn’t see mental health subjects as taboo. Being able to discuss my anxiety with loved ones has enabled me to progress in ways I honestly don’t think would have been possible otherwise. Having a support system is detrimental to not letting my mind run away with me plus my boyfriend and house mate are normally the ones to help bring things back into focus when the moment strikes. And it does.
I hope one or any of the above helps you in your own quest to combat not just anxiety but any mental health issue you may be familiar with. Please note that they are all based on my personal experiences however something I hold in high regard because without them, anxiety has a nifty little way of rearing its head.
On the plus side, the more I do these things the less likely an attack sets in. On the down side, when I do get complacent my anxiety feels stronger than ever and reminds me that health does take some effort.
But I’m up to the challenge because personally, I think there’s something rather beautiful about being utterly responsible for your own life.