First I feel I need to apologise for the delay in bringing this post to you guys. I’ve been meaning to do it for so long and so many of you have requested it but on my list of post ideas it always seems to be last on my list of priorities. So today I thought I would put it first. Not only because you guys have asked for it but also because anxiety is a terrible thing. Whether you have social anxiety, panic attacks or if you’re just an anxious person, I hope some of these tips will help you in your day to day life.
First some back story. I’ve been living with anxiety (diagnosed) for the past two and a half years. I’ve always been an anxious person, I never could sit through a meeting without planning my escape route coming out with nothing but a sweaty bum and no idea what just happened, but a few years ago it hit breaking point. I still don’t even think I knew how bad it was until a year after I was better (I say it like that because anxiety is like that annoying friend that stays too long and just won’t get the hint to leave) and I was reading an article by someone who’d had a nervous breakdown that it clicked. I think that happened to me, and that, and that . . oh shit I had a nervous breakdown, I then did the thing any self respecting 26 year old woman does and asked my Mum, yeah? she said. But do you think you can say to someone who’s having a nervous breakdown . . “you’re having a nervous breakdown”? Right.
I better give you a warning right here right now that this is going to be one hell of a long ass post!
Anyway, enough of the back story because if you’re a long time reader you’ll have heard about it a lot and will be pretty sick of hearing about it. Hi if you’re not, please stay.
I’ve come quite far since the dark days, if I do say so myself. I regularly travel to London for meetings and last week I went the day after a terrorist attack something that would have put me off going to London full stop, let along the day after. So I wanted to share with you some of the things that have and still do help me to control my anxiety. As I said before, it’s not something that just goes it’s a lifelong friend so although I may be coping a lot better, it’s still a process.
Just a little disclaimer, these are things that I have developed by using what therapists have suggested and adjusting them to what works for me, it might not work for everyone and they certainly aren’t medically proven or anything, just my crazy brain!
Forgodsake don’t listen to your breathing
Controversial I know. The dr’s etc all tell you to listen to your breathing but for me, breathing techniques are only an excellent way to ensure that my anxiety will double at the very least. Hearing my breathing and concentrating on it is not helpful for me at all. Instead try visualising colours with your breathing. Take long slow relaxed breaths and visualise a calming blue filling your heart when you breath in and when you breath out, imagine the anxiety, a dirty angry red colour spilling out. This is a technique I use at least once a week and find it is the most effective. It’s also something that you can do wherever you are.
The Mind Bubble Technique
Overthinking, aka the cause of most of my anxiety. My brain will go into a full on spiral over the smallest thing giving me major panic. A technique I’ve learnt to deal with this is to imagine a small bubble in my mind that starts tiny and grows in size, gradually pushing all of the mindless chatter out and filling my head with an empty space. I can’t believe I’m telling you guys all of my crazy thought processes but seriously this one helps so much! If I’m driving I even sometimes collect the thoughts with my hands, throw them out of the window and wind it back up again!
Imagine Your in a Soap Opera
I know what you’re thinking, “now she’s really lost the plot” but bear with me. A huge part of anxiety is thinking about situations time and time again. Be it a situation from the past which makes you cringe or feel panicky or something that hasn’t even happen that you’ve imagined up and is making you anxious about the future. Take the situation and play it out on a tv screen in your mind, now take the remote control and put it on silent, make the TV tiny, make it black and white with a fuzzy picture. Does it seem so scary?
Little Miss Poo Brain
Now this is one that I really am embarrassed to tell you about, but I want to! I want to tell you to help anyone in my situation so I’m swallowing my shame and telling you my deepest darkest secret . . little Miss Poo Brain.
Do you have a re occurring thought that bugs you? The main cause for your anxiety? For me, I was super ill with my anxiety, then the thought of being ill at work/anywhere gave me even more anxiety and so on and so forth, a viscous cycle. I saw somewhere that giving your thoughts a persona helps to distance yourself from them, your thoughts aren’t you. Enter little Miss Poo Brain, now whenever I have the thoughts of anxiety about having a bad stomach or anything of the sort I just think “Here come’s little Miss Poo Brain putting in her two cents”. Please don’t think I’m crazy guys it really helps! Of all the things I have ever tried this is the most effective and whilst travelling I used this and wasn’t ill ONCE because of anxiety. That is a huge achievement for me!
Stop Reading Self Help Books
I realised what a useless and completely un helpful in every possible way thing this was to do when I was travelling with half a bag filled with self help books. You see as a blogger with anxiety and who talks about that and mindfulness a lot, I get sent lots of self help reading material. On my first stop in Bangkok I realised how little they actually helped and left them all in the room at my hostel . . good riddance.
Here’s my thoughts. You already know you have anxiety, do you really need to read about it and go into detail about how it’s affective your body and what the symptoms are? NO. If you wan’t some reading material, read a book about positivity, about happiness, about something you can do that is pro active. Don’t read about what you already know, it’ll only make you look in on yourself causing more pain and worry.
I really hope you guys liked this post, I’m aware that it’s the ramblings of a mad woman! Feel free to leave comments with your own tips on how to beat anxiety! I would love that! Also let me know if you want me to do more posts like this about my anxiety and ways to help/ my story!