Certain situations or events can be debilitating with anxiety. Thoughts work on their own, filling our minds with the worst possible scenario and swirling around in our heads. The fact that different happenings in life, whether it be social situations, flying, spiders, going to the gym, or anything else, is a manifestation of irrational fear that stems from the anxiety.
The ‘What If’ factor comes into play with anxious people. ‘What if people look at me?’, ‘what if I can’t think of anything to say?’, ‘what if there’s a spider there?’ – then, the thought itself changes into another, deeper speculation that says ‘well now I’ve thought it, it definitely will be there’ – a kind of ‘I jinxed myself’ moment. Just because you thought about it, now it has the possibility to happen. When truly, deep down in our scientifically thinking mind, we know this is not the case.
Realising that this is the thought process is the first step. However, pushing past your fears and making it to the gym, or going to that party, is just another step. It’s not the end or the magic cure; because if we think it is, we may be surprised that anxiety can still crop up elsewhere. It may change again into insomnia, or over-worrying about small things, becoming highly irritable for no reason, or many other problems. If you work on achieving your fear, while at the same time working through what triggers and causes these issues to arise in the first place, you have a much better chance of healing your mind in the long term. It is a commitment to make to yourself, every day.
Cancelling plans and restricting yourself are two consequences of living with anxiety. The fear of the anxiety itself can also be prevalent in serious and frequently reoccurring cases.
- Book in to see a psychologist or psychiatrist if your anxiety gets out of control, your mind is sick, there is no shame in going about healing it.
- Read books on anxiety – as many as you can, self-help, other people’s experiences, it’s incredibly comforting to know you can help yourself. My current recommendation: ‘The Complete CBT Guide for Anxiety’ – this has been incredibly helpful.
- Keep a journal- write down /10 you feel about your anxiety and what steps you are going to take next. This helps the fear get out of your head and onto the page, write as much as you need.
- Voice your fears, tell your boyfriend or girlfriend, friend or family member ‘I’m feeling a bit nervous’ or ‘I’m a bit anxious’ – just having them know and talking it out will take a bit of the edge off. Find the perfect person to talk to, someone who will allay your fears, but also reassure you and make you feel safe and loved. Don’t talk to people who invalidate you or make fun of you. This does not help. Keep communication with these type of people on the purely superficial scale.
- Try herbal remedies if your anxiety is not heavy enough to take prescribed medication (or you do not wish to) – Valerian I have found is very helpful in anxious situations and can be found at chemists or in specific supermarkets.
- Try to determine the trigger of your anxiety, if you have one (not everyone does) – what was it that initially made you feel like this? Can it be dismantled in a way, can you look at it from a different angle?
- Deep visualisation techniques – this takes practice but it’s well worth it. This can disconnect you from your anxiety and put you in another place entirely. Construct a calm image in your mind, and go to it when anxiety starts to take hold. Deep breathing and not letting yourself stress beyond a certain point also help with this. Really focus. It can take a few goes but don’t give up. Construct your calm place, and visit it often.
- Cut down on caffeine intake – I cannot stress this enough, learning to get through your day without coffee, coke or an energy drink is so,so important. Caffeine fuels anxiety as it increases your heart rate, so when you do have an anxious moment, it can be magnified by that already heightened state. It might feel like you need caffeine even to get out of bed, but I promise you don’t. Once you get through the withdrawal period (which lasts about a week in my experience) you will start feeling better than ever.
- Admit fault – often when we experience anxiety, we can become short tempered and say things we don’t mean. Once the moment has passed make sure you apologise and admit that you were wrong. Don’t ‘blame’ the anxiety. It may have enabled you to act like that but it still may have been hurtful things coming out of your mouth.
- Eat healthy and drink plenty of water. This is commonsense, as looking after your body is important in alignment with a healthy mind. This can be difficult as well when you are used to certain eating patterns, but again, keep trying and don’t dissuade yourself if you fail. Just keep trying. Success is usually due to many failures previously.
Ultimately, working on yourself. Recognising there’s something there to work on in the first place is a good step to doing the things you want to do without worry. Anxiety and other mental health disorders can be fluid. They come in many different types to all different kinds of people in different circumstances, at any time of a person’s life. So if you think you may need help, take the time needed to help yourself. You are important, and you are worth it!