Coping with anxiety

Me & my anxiety. A good cup of tea, to take the edge off my anxiety

I don’t know about you, but anxiety is a good friend of mine. It never seems to want to leave. When I’m feeling anxious, I used to think that a good cup of tea would put me at ease, it is called a hug in a mug for a reason…or is that what I just call it. But as I’ve got older I have realised that boiling it down to needing a cuppa completely invalidates how I’m feeling and doesn’t help. All I was doing was putting my blinkers on and pretending I was feeling better than I was. I was ignoring the anxiety onset insomnia, the intrusive thoughts, the breathlessness, and the tight chest when I was simply sitting. I was forgetting the feeling of spacing out, whilst having a racing mind, feeling overwhelmed like I wanted to hide, but also scream, but staying quiet. It is a head fuck that needs a bit more attention and acceptance than a simple cup of tea. Don’t get me wrong there is always time for tea and possibly the mindful act of making a cup could help calm down heightened emotions. But I’m sure we can come up with a few more coping mechanisms than that, but with a cuppa in hand as opposed to just making it and hoping for the best.

I have found as I have gotten older, that anxiety seems to be ever present in most things, to add another challenge to a situation that is already difficult, or to make an easy situation seem impossible. I have found anxiety to be crippling. However, it does subside. You can learn to welcome it, embrace the feelings, and learn how to control and overcome them. That being said it is not easy and will take some work. This is something you need to accept, but once you realise you aren’t anxiety, you’re experiencing it, things become more manageable. Don’t get me wrong, I have felt very angry and frustrated, hopeless and down. There are good days and bad days. But as you plod on, being mindful of yourself, being gentle, and learning new strategies there are more good days than bad days, and this thought takes the edge off of the not so good.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov on Pexels.com

I have found a few methods that help me to manage my anxiety day to day, I am not a fan of having to take medication daily, mainly because I have a forgetful brain, but also I want to be in control of myself. IF you have someone you can talk to, then that is helpful but also very lucky, I am the sort of person that struggles to open up, so these strategies put me at ease and help me manage my mind, which then helps me open up to people once I’ve opened up to myself.

Meditation: I have found that when my mind gets crazy and nothing makes sense and I can’t calm down, that some simple meditation helps. It feels as if the crazy emotions simply dissipate from my body. You can do as little as threes minutes to as many as you like. I use the headspace app. Meditation helps slow your mind down and helps you become more aware of your thoughts. This will help you notice when negative thoughts start ramping up and you can flip the script in your head. I am safe. I am okay. This will pass.

Movement: I’m not telling you to become a gym rat or a marathon runner, however, there is scientific research that links movement of the body to managing mental health. I like to do yoga at home, I roll my mat out and see what happens, whether that’s 5 minutes or 50. I can feel a massive difference between before getting on my mat and after. At times it’s a battle, but I try to shut off my mind and just move.

Nourishment: EAT! At times it feels impossible to go to the kitchen and to make yourself something nutritious, but your body feels better for having fruits and veggies so, in turn, your mind will benefit. However, nothing quite warms the heart like pastry or a cake paired with a cup of tea! and for the love of god drink at least two litres of water a day, and a little birdy told me you can count cups of tea to the amount!!! But go for a higher ratio of water to tea.

Journaling: This was something I was dubious about, however when I can’t understand what’s going on in my head, I spill it onto paper and it makes me feel lighter. It helps you acknowledge how you’re feeling and somehow make sense of it. Sometimes it seems like the hardest thing talking to someone, so it’s easier to write it down in a private journal.

Sleep: I feel like a madwoman when I cannot fall asleep or if I have a broken night’s sleep or a short stint in dreamland. This is so detrimental to functioning well even without mental health problems, it is easier said than done, but try to wind down about an hour before bed, dim the lights, have a bath, and maybe read a book. When my anxiety is high it always feels worse at night, I have found that the headspace app can put me to sleep, they have sleep meditations and I am off to snooze land most of the time before it has ended.

These are a few things that I have found helpful lately, it is hard to manage anxiety and the hardest part is starting, but you’re the only person that can help you. Don’t take yourself for granted and try to stop being so hard on yourself. Once you start there’s no stopping!!! People look a lot more in control and put together on the outside, little do you know they may be feeling fragile on the inside. Everyone suffers at some point.

Start prioritising yourself, your self-care and your mental health first. You can’t help someone if you on burnout. It’s time to fill your cup up. You’ve got this!

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