Sunday, 13 March 2016

Let's talk about: Anxiety

Hi Friends,

On Thursday I wanted to put up another more personal 'Thoughtful Thursday' post but I ended up spontaneously going rock climbing with some colleagues in the evening! Although blogging is obviously a HUGE part of my life (I post every other day) I don't want to miss fun opportunities with friends either so I postponed that post to today! 

Last time I spoke a bit about living with PCOS which is a condition I was diagnosed with last summer. If you want to read that post check it out here but today is about something else I find a little bit hard to deal with: Anxiety. 

More and more people have been speaking up about mental health recently which is fantastic, the more it's spoken about the better. I want to talk a little bit about how I've dealt with it today because I think reading about other peoples stories sometimes makes you feel less alone.

I have quite bad social anxiety and also a lot of anxiety around death. Now this may sound silly because a lot of people are anxious about dying/people they know dying but mine is an overwhelming part of my life. But today I want to focus on social anxiety, not anxiety that is more specific to me.

Anxiety comes in a marvelous array of shapes and sizes. People can be anxious about travel or being alone or social situations or anything! Mine is mainly social which means I can be out with a group of people I know well and love but I'm uncomfortable and anxious because I worry about either what they're going to say to me, how they're going to perceive me, I feel like I'm too surrounded, I worry that I'll be misunderstood, I feel overwhelmed by the noise and the lack of space I have or if I feel that there is too much pressure on a certain occasion. It's odd, because I'm typically a super relaxed person, I don't like to control others but I like to be in control of myself. This is super fun on occasions like birthdays or new years eve when everyone is meant to be having a brilliant time and I'm just worried about being with too many people. I find simple things like 'going into London' stressful because I know that I'll feel too claustrophobic when I get there, I'm a real country girl. I remember one of my friends birthdays last year I found super overwhelming and stressful and I thought I was going to have to drive home at 3am when I was wide awake worrying. 

I want to tell you a few ways I've learnt to deal with anxiety. I'm not saying they're for everyone but you might want to give them a go if you think they would help: 
  • Colouring in. Stupid though it may sound, if I'm feeling stressed or anxious or I'm having a bad day art can really help me. I just sit down and think whilst colouring or doodling in my journal and I feel a whole lot better.
  • Taking a bath. This is a really simple thing that I actually do a few times a week to give myself half an hour to chill out. It's so soothing. 
  • Solve a rubiks cube. Now, I used to do these all the time about 3 years ago and I only recently got back into it. Some people may think that sounds ridiculous and that trying to solve one is stressful but I love doing it. It takes me about 3 minutes and because I'm concentrating on that everything else seems to be forgotten. It gives me something to focus on. 
  • Read the book 'Calm'. I've mentioned this in a couple of posts before so I won't ramble on, but give it a go. 
  • Go for a walk. I live RIGHT next to a footpath which leads to a beautiful park. If I ever need to escape and get to a wide open space this is fantastic for me. It's brilliant to clear my mind.
  • Tidy. Okay. Now some of you will REALLY not be with me on this one, but my flat is my space. I love it and it's now my home. If it's messy my brain feels messy so sometimes I think tidying can actually help me feel a lot better and a lot calmer. 
I want to briefly discuss medication for anxiety. I think a lot of people are quick to say that they have anxiety but won't go to the doctors about it. Although this is a difficult step, having help by a medical professional is often extremely valuable. By no means am I saying that anyone who feels anxious should go and ask for anti-anxiety medication. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy can be extremely valuable, as can counseling. I've found that a mixture of therapy and anti-anxiety medication allows me to control my feelings much better but of course, that's not for everyone. My doctor also set me up with an online therapy service which really helped, it needs to be whatever suits you. I also think it's important for people to know that being anxious is something that EVERYONE experiences during their lives. Everyone worries, everyone has fears. Of course, in this instance I'm talking about something that is more serious, but it's okay to worry or be scared, it's normal and quite frankly, it's human. 

I hope this has helped some of you and that you're having a really relaxing week end,

Love & hugs,

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