Thursday, 27 March 2014

Ways to Reduce Anxiety


It's been a while since I posted a lifestyle post and I thought I'd write something I feel strongly about.  There's been a lot of talk about Mental Health lately and I think it's great that it's becoming less of a taboo. The Time to Talk campaign has really helped. I'm noticing more and more people are speaking out about their anxiety and that's definitely the first step to getting help. I've found a few ways to help reduce anxiety and I wanted to share them with you. They might not work but give one or two a try and see how you get on.

Understand your Triggers 
I know I'm at my worst when I'm out of control and when I'm not prepared for a situation. I need to know who is going to be somewhere, and what it will be like and what we'll be doing. If I don't know what to expect I can get very anxious. Only recently I had a panic attack in the que for a club I'd never been to with no idea of what was inside. Sometimes being around people I don't expect can set me off too. In the past I found a certain few people made me feel incredibly uncomfortable and my anxiety was extremely hard to control.I would get heart palpitations and feel short of breath out of nowhere, sometimes without even realising that I was feeling uncomfortable with the situation.
Once you have identified what sets you off you can try to control it, if social media gets you down for example then don't read it. Either eliminate by deleting the acount or check it less often or at a time when you know you can cope with it.
If you're not sure what causes it then write down each time you have an anxiety attack and you can try and work out if there is a pattern of some sort.

Change Your Perspective
One of the reasons anxiety and stress gets to us is that they cause physiological changes that can feel frightening in the moment. When I’m anxious, I get a shortness of breath and my chest feels tight, I even struggle to get words out at times. This makes me more stressed as I start to worry how bad it's going to get or if people are noticing "Will I pass out..? Are people looking..?". Studies have proven that changing our minds can change our body’s response to stress. So something that scares you needs to be seen as a positive. Instead of seeing your heart beating faster as something to fear, look at it as your bodies way of getting more oxygen to the brain to help overcome what’s troubling you. It sounds strange but try it, next time you start to feel the symptoms of stress and anxiety, try to flip the switch. Stop for a sec and see your body’s response as a way to help you through the feelings you're going through.

reducing-anxiety

Breathe
I wake up in the morning one of two ways, (1.) Quickly. I check my phone, rush to the shower, get ready while I sort out Mason or (2.) Calmly. I slowly adjust, reading my phone in bed, get up, put the kettle on then try and do a million things at once. The calmness soon goes out of the window as the to-do list grows. It’s easy to get caught up in the things that need doing that you feel you can’t even think of taking a break, but a break is exactly what you need.
It's really common to feel that you can’t turn off or let go of your thoughts but you can help control your anxiety rough meditating. I know, I raised an eyebrow at this when I heard about it too, but if you sit and switch off for five minutes a day and breathe you can reduce the anxiety.
I always picture meditating as sitting on the floor cross legged and chanting, which makes me feel silly. But meditating is about witnessing your thoughts as they come in and out, seeing and acknowledging them but not attaching to them. The moment you notice yourself dwelling on a topic, just label the experience “thinking,” let the thought go, and come back to your breath. You can just take a few breaths while standing still and exhale the anxiety out of your body. Try to mentally replace negative emotions with an image that makes you smile. This one really works for me. It gives you a different state of mind.

Watch Your Words
I constantly fret over what needs doing. When I stress out I list things to my partner and often add in things that aren't even necessary. "I need to put the washing on, wash up, decide what to wear, sort my hair out, clean the bathroom, get Mason's lunch ready, hoover the bedroom...."  It's when I keep saying over and over again that I’m swamped, all I’m doing is confirming these things to myself. The more I tell myself there’s no way I’ll be able to get everything done the more I’m basically telling myself that I will fail. I may not notice it but how I talk does affect my stress level. Telling myself ' I've got this and this and this to do...' Will just make me feel more overwhelmed.
We attract busy-ness and the feeling of being overwhelmed into our lives, studies show that if you think positively it enables recovery from depression and helps to get over upsetting events. We need to pay attention to what words we're using to describe our day. When someone asks you how things are going, what do you say? If you notice you’re answering with anxiety-inducing statements, change them up a bit. Tell yourself you can do it, take things a step at a time. I talk to my son that way, I need to give myself the same words of encouragement. When I add '...and I have to wash the shower curtain' I need to really think if it needs to be done today, why add things to the list that aren't vital? It's only adding more stress. Sometimes things can wait.
Affirmations are a great way to shift away from the negative things we think everyday. Write down what you're insecure about. If it's "I'll never trust friends again" turn it into a positive statement like "not everyone breaks trust and you know so many wonderful people" Imagine you are listening to a friend pouring out their feelings and you are making them feel better, you wouldn't be so negative to someone else, give yourself the same treatment.

Get Moving
I think exercise is the answer to almost everything. I find anxiety seems to make an appearance when I'm still. I guess I'm overthinking a situation and I start to panic. It's very rare that I have an attack when I'm moving about. 
 I’ve noticed that regularly moving my body helps reduce my anxiety to begin with. I don't know the exact science behind it but I can only assume it gives the brain something else to focus on.
Exercise has always been a great antidote for depression so getting out and moving, and taking in your surroundings can only be a good thing.
Maybe take up a new hobby, join the gym, go running, take a class. You get a boost in confidence from trying something new and a lot of these things can result in the stress release from the activity itself. Getting your blood pumping makes you feel a whole lot healthier too.




I hope a few of these can help just one person. Have you got anything that helps your anxiety? I'd love to hear your thoughts.


You can read more about my anxiety experiences in my Moments that Mattered post and my Time To Talk post.

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7 comments:

  1. I agree that knowing your triggers and exercise are so effective. I have had many issues with anxiety in the past and those have been my go to. I know what to stay away from and how to avoid certain situations that would have my anxiety sky rocket.
    Unfortunately one of those things is flying. I want to travel so badly, but planes give me the worst anxiety. Traveling is not something I want to stay away from :( Maybe I can exercise in the aisles? :)

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    1. haha! Give it a try! Yea I think for some things that won't be the best plan of action. Maybe try to focus on something else at the time?

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  2. Great post! Sometimes I have my husband change my Facebook password on me for awhile when I just don't want to see what's going on LOL!

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  3. Great post! I completely agree that exercise is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety! It has helped me so much when i'm stressed
    -Imogen from infinitynights

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  4. what a lovely post to read Jen :) I think it's great the amount of people opening up about their struggles with mental health...we are all in this boat together :) I can relate to you in many ways on here...I've felt that driving has completely changed me, cos I've learnt a new skill & gained so much freedom & control. I'm considering taking a course too...just unsure what to do yet :) always a great start :/ xxx

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  5. Amazing post! I totally agree with all of your points, I especially like the 'Watch Your Words' one. It's much more difficult for me to get things done if I have to do them, however if I change my way of thinking about it it's so much easier! I have a few posts on anxiety if you're interested in reading them:

    http://whatlaurendidtoday.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/4-tips-for-overcoming-anxiety.html & http://whatlaurendidtoday.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/3-tips-for-relieving-anxiety.html

    Lauren x

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