Some anxiety is normal – it’s what we feel when we are worried, tense or afraid – particularly about things that are about to happen, or which we think could happen in the future. However, anxiety can become a mental health problem if it impacts on your ability to live your life as fully as you want to.
My anxiety manifests as a physical feeling. At its gentlest – and most constant – it sits low in my stomach – a quiet but evil bubbling pot, threatening to spill out at any time, lest I lose control. At its strongest, I can feel snakes climbing up out of my throat but never quite making it out of my mouth. My limbs are pretty much numb. My mind is clouded and the most inane of tasks feel like an absolute mountain to climb. Sometimes, it’s easiest to stay in bed – but I know it’s best not to.
How can I cope with anxiety?
1. Distract yourself
For a short-term fix, find something to concentrate on that isn’t your anxiety. A new box-set. A letter to a friend. EVERYONE has heard of the KonMari method now, right? Having a clear out can help you focus on something other than your feelings. You can read more about decluttering here.
I used to be the worst at getting to the gym, and thought everyone who said it felt good afterwards was lying. Now, as soon as I feel an anxiety episode coming on, I get myself to the gym and bash it out on the treadmill. You might be a sweaty mess, but your symptoms will have lifted, or at least been alleviated.
3. Change your diet
If you’re upset, eating comfort food such as pizza or ice cream might seem like a fab idea, but in reality, the sugar and starch can cause your blood sugar to rise and fall dramatically, adding to your stress. Also, alcohol might be the obvious choice when you’re feeling low and might relieve feelings of anxiety temporarily, but believe me when I say that you will 100% feel worse in the long-run!
4. Stay present
How many times have you lain awake in bed worrying about something you said or did five years ago? Ten years ago? Dwelling on the past is no fun. It’s hard, but making sure you’re focusing on what you can control in there here and now – even if it’s simply what to have for dinner.
5. Speak to someone
Although it may feel easier to keep things to yourself, speaking to someone you trust about how you feel can really lift a weight. Alternatively, speaking to a professional at a place like Mind can help you gain perspective from an objective, professional standpoint.