- Publish Date
- Friday, 29 June 2018, 11:14AM
For a lot of us, anxiety is something we've had all our lives before we even knew what it was. This was and still is the case for your girl Bel, who like most of us, has experienced, and still lives with anxiety.
"It's great that in 2018, anxiety is a lot more normalised - We talk about it a lot more and being someone who experiences anxiety, it actually makes you feel less anxious (ironically) knowing what it is and that it's so common."
"I remember thinking I just worried a lot. People didn't talk about anxiety or probably know what it was when we grew up in the '90s-2000s. My Mum got me these 'Worry Dolls' from a Trade Aid shop (made out of cotton and sticks lol). I told them my worries and put them under my pillow at night hoping I wouldn't feel 'worried' the next day. I remember feeling panicked and scared a lot and often had a tight and burning feeling in my chest, but I never could really work out why. Some days it was just worse than others."
Definition: Anxiety is a general term for several disorders that cause nervousness, fear, apprehension and worrying. These disorders affect how we feel and behave and can cause physical symptoms, Severe anxiety can seriously affect day-to-day living.
"I know when your anxiety is really intense nothing in that moment feels like it helps, I also know what it's like when someone says "Eat this" or "Go for a walk and get some fresh air and you'll feel better" or "You just need to stop overthinking so much". Well, first of all, it's that easy OK!
I'm not trying to tell you to do these things and you won't feel anxious anymore, but there are lots of things you can do on a daily basis which will improve your well-being and help you manage your anxiety. You need to come up with an action plan. Work out what helps you and then as soon as your anxiety kicks in start working through your action plan STRAIGHT AWAY."
Here's what I've found has helped me:
Change your perception about anxiety
"Once I stopped being scared of my anxiety (and trust me it hasn't always been easy) and tried to stop it from happening or control it things have seriously changed. You see all of us experience anxiety to a certain degree. It's a normal human emotion, and you can never fully get rid of an emotion. So just like you will always experience happiness you will probably always experience anxiety. Some of us more than others.
What really changed things was when I started looking at my anxiety differently. I had a therapist explain (and this is what mindfulness apps tell you) not to fight it but to acknowledge it. 'Hello anxiety I see you've come to say hi'. This is happening right now, give it some space, see it for what it is, do all your good things that help and ride it out. Because you will ride it out and it will get less intense and you WILL feel better soon.
What is mindfulness? It's a mental state achieved by focusing on awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, It is used as a therapeutic technique.
I recommend reading Ruby Wax's Number one Bestseller Sane New World- Taming the Mind. Ruby explains mindfulness better than I think anyone ever has. She takes you through how to practise, the mental, emotional and also proven physical health benefits of regular mindfulness.
Anxiety for a lot of us is overthinking. One of the first things I do when I start feeling anxious is listen to a mindfulness meditation to calm the anxious thoughts and literally tame my mind.
Meditation and Yoga
"In the fast-paced, demanding and constantly switched on world we live in, it's no wonder we get overwhelmed and have trouble switching our racing minds off. When I first tried to meditate I thought nope this is not for me, my mind is too busy for this sozzies.
If you also have a busy mind which you battle to turn 'off' guided meditations are your new BFF. They tell you what to do, you just have to lie there.
I listen to a guided meditation every night before I go to sleep and it's been an absolute game changer.
Meditating not only makes you calmer, it also makes you mentally strong.
I was a dancer growing up so yoga and pilates have been my go to, but if I'm honest I've often had to force myself to do yoga. You might be in a mindset that if it's not high impact it's not proper exercise, but as I am prone to getting adrenal fatigue I can't always go to my 5 x weekly HIIT classes without getting seriously burnt out. This year I've become a 5-6 times a week yogi and I love it. It makes you feel so good and it's still a really good work out. I recommend going to classes, but there are some really good Yoga Youtube sessions you can do at home,"
"The more tricks you can learn the better, consider them tools in your 'nailing anxiety life' toolkit. I have learnt so much from a range of holistic health care professionals over the past decade. Naturopathy, Acupuncture, Reiki, Kinesiology, the list goes on.
I respond best to Reiki, which is ancient Japanese energy healing (I got my Level 1's and practice on myself). I find it really helpful in clearing energy and getting into a better space. It can be hard to move forward if you have the same thoughts and feelings swirling around. What can I say I am a hippie, moon and crystal loving child, and when something works for you, you've gotta roll with it right?! Find what works for you and do whatever it takes."
Things to ditch or avoid:
- Caffeine - stick to decaf coffee (which technically still has traces of caffeine in it)
- Alcohol - we all know hang-xiety (hungover anxiety) is real! Those mornings lying in bed after a night out worrying about what we did/ said while feeling the effects of alcohol trying to leave our anxious prone bodies. Listen to your body. Have your 'safe' drinks. I stick to beer or vodka soda. I found out I'm allergic to wine but it makes my anxiety unbearable so I ditched it over a year ago
- Sugar - can be the devil for anxiety. Try to eat as clean as you can and work out which treat foods don't trigger your anxiety
- Lying in bed all day - GET UP! It's ok to nap but it's best to get up and get on with your day. Do some nice things for yourself
- Being hard on yourself. You're doing your best! Be kind to yourself
- Sticking around people who tell you your anxiety is all in your head (yeah well no shit Sherlock you try living in an anxious person's mind for a day... I'll wait). Don't allow people to belittle you or your anxiety. It does not make you less capable as a person and people like to see it as a weakness. If you're managing it and overcoming it that makes you REALLY super strong!
Little things make a difference:
- Rescue remedy- you can get it made up for your specific needs at a herbal dispensary
- Essential oils- especially calming lavender
- Salt baths- salt has healing properties for your body and mind, put some salt in a bath, some lavender oil (or treat yourself to some Lush bath products) and soak in the calming goodness by candlelight
- Herbal teas - chamomile, sleepy tea, liver tea (I explained the important in 'Self-Care' )
- Lots of water - anxiety is thirsty work! I always feel like it's helping me to flush it out of my body
- Magnesium - has heaps of benefits but is proven to relieve anxiety and is good for the nervous system
- Executive Stress B vitamins
- Melatonin - my doctor explained that with anxiety you will wake up in the night a lot. Melatonin is natural and it helps you to stay asleep. Getting good sleep is SO important
- Deep breathing exercises - slowing down your breathing lowers your heart rate, often heightened during anxiety bouts
- Positive affirmations - tell yourself you're a babe and that you're going to be ok. Write down your go-to affirmations
- Reading - takes your mind to another place and there are lots of great self-help reads (I'll list my favourites in a future post)
- Watching mindless trashy TV like my current favourite 'Love Island Australia' or a really interesting crime doco series, whatever you're feeling
- Being around nature - the beach, the bush. Somewhere nice and calm
- Exercise - move your body. Even if it's a light walk in the fresh air
- Being grateful - think about all of the good things in your life you are thankful for. Focusing on these things can often drag you out of the dark/ negative thought patterns
Want more? Read the full blog Here!