20 top tips for managing anxiety (part 2) #MHAW17

Welcome back, let’s crack on then…

8. Receive empathy

This may sound a strange one, for how can you ensure you receive such a thing that is down to another person to dish out? Well, a number of years ago a friend said to me, “I need someone to talk to and I wondered if it could be you. I need someone I can see with the purpose of offloading to, not to have chit-chat with.”

This may sound a bit revolutionary but perhaps empathy is something you can ask for, to an extent. By simply stating what you need to someone you feel is capable of providing it maybe you can know a person who tries to understand your world from your perspective. It helps deal with shame and bring healing.

9. Eat healthily

Nutritious food certainly helps keep your mood balanced. Also, there are certain foods which can be grounding. A hearty root vegetable soup is a kind of comfort food for a reason, some food helps settle your body and blood sugar levels. I’m sure I don’t need to say which ones don’t; sugar, caffeine. Plenty of water helps too.

10. Be creative

Don’t even try to tell me you’re not. Everyone is. You just have to find the ways in which you express your creativity. Doing something creative that is just fun with no guidelines or limits is revitalising and also can allow you to express feelings you didn’t even know were there.

Candle holder
On an anxious day I got out some air-drying clay and made a tea light holder

11. Meditate

More often than not, without even intending to, we are meditating (or ruminating) on something negative or worrying. Then we can spiral into extreme anxiety that is hard to get back from. To choose to spend some time meditating on something wholesome and beneficial can turn my day around. I choose a Psalm from the bible. If that’s not for you perhaps a positive saying to reflect on as you go about your day.

12. See it as an illness

Perhaps this may be difficult for some people. It might their turn anxiety into something bigger or ‘serious’. For me, I found it helpful to see it like this. When I get ill there are (in most cases) two facts I am aware of:

  1. That there is some sort of treatment I can do that will help.
  2. That I will get better.

By naming my anxiety as being a result of becoming mentally unwell I could quite quickly and decisively take action with the perspective that the action I take will result in my recovery. As opposed to adopting the mindset that I am an anxious person and that’s just how it is and will always be. I know that I will most probably always have to manage it but I feel confident that the ways in which I learn to manage it will become habits so that it rarely gets out of hand.

13. Dance and/or sing

Stick some music on and sing your heart out and have a boogie. It’s uplifting and I expect relates to the idea that if you smile, even if it’s for no reason, you’ll feel happier. If anything, it’s something different to do that might interrupt your anxious thoughts.

14. Practise mindfulness

This is being recommended by many therapists as a successful antidote to anxiety and depression. It is ultimately about being in the here and now. Focusing on where you are and the sensations you are aware of in the moment you are in. As opposed to constantly thinking ahead and wondering, ‘what if this happens?’ Or feeling a sense of dread about the thing you have to do tomorrow.

Personally, I have adopted that basic premise and merged it with my spirituality and beliefs. More on that in another post, perhaps…

15. Notice, notice, notice

What are you feeling? Not what do you think you feel. Rid yourself of all distractions, close your eyes… what is going on in your body? What do you feel? It should be a one word answer… happy, sad, confused, scared, overwhelmed.

I have realised how much I tell myself what I’m feeling. My thoughts dictate what I feel by telling me I ought to feel anxious about this or that. So I try to notice what I’m thinking and think something else. Something that will undermine the negative thought that is driving my anxiety.

16. Understand your personality

This has massively helped me. Largely because it has helped me accept myself as well as understand my tendencies as an INFJ. To find out more read my post ‘who are YOU really?’ Also, check out the OCEAN personality test, you can find it on truity.com. It tests what are known as the big five dimensions of personality and the N stands for neuroticism. Finding out I was fairly high in neuroticism helped me accept that being prone to feeling fearful is part of who I am and it made me feel less weak. After all, any personality ‘trait’ always has a positive spin.

17. Get enough sleep/rest

I am definitely more anxious when I’m tired. It is tiring being anxious, too. It can be hard to unwind though, so try a relaxation audio or listen to an audiobook, or to music, which can help give you a focus away from your thoughts.

18. Have therapy

When you’re ill you go to the expert – a GP or doctor of some sort. If you’re mentally unwell, I’d recommend seeking out a therapist. There are some very practical things you can do to help yourself and therapy is the place you learn them. There are also usually some important experiences that need unpacking. In my therapy sessions I have been given a lot of information about what is going on psychologically and what I can do about it. It is empowering.

Also, there is healing power in the non-judgmental listening of someone who I don’t know. Just being able to talk is therapy.

19. Try and live as normal a life as possible

In order for our brain to believe that life isn’t as scary as we can think, we have to just keep experiencing the day-to-day. Whilst everything mostly ticks over without any drama, our brain starts to believe that general life actually isn’t that terrifying.

Not living a normal life tends to create anxiety in me, too.

20. Get informed

Read about anxiety and subscribe to useful blogs and websites. I have recently joined ‘The Mighty’, a community of writers telling their mental health and chronic illness stories. It can be useful information and/or give you a sense of solidarity. Head talks is also a good resource with an email newsletter and a podcast.

***

I hope this has been useful. I apologise that the writing isn’t my best. As I decided fairly last minute to blog every day this week I hadn’t prepared as much in advance and thus hadn’t allowed myself editing time.

If you have any of your own tips to suggest, please write them in the comments or on any of my social media pages.

Sending love to anyone who is currently suffering from extreme anxiety. x

To find out more about anxiety, read Better Help’s Complete Guide To How Anxiety Feels.

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