OK, I wouldn’t say I’m someone who suffers from anxiety on a regular basis. I’ve never had a panic attack (touch wood) and am generally a happy-go-lucky type. At least, I am these days.
However, part of my personality is very susceptible to bouts of unwarranted stress. Type-A, must achieve, must complete, must improve…
To be honest, even the most zen folk out there would all probably admit they could use a bit less stress.
Note: This post is in no way a prescription for serious anxiety: that’s what your doctor is for. Check out Mind for more info or for help with anxiety.
How I Cope With Anxiety
I realise this is my first post on CFIGFY in some time… Yes, this is exactly what happens if I don’t PLAN. If it isn’t written down, on my phone or calendar or Trello (preferably all three) it won’t happen.
Some people need breaks from planning. They find to-do lists useless time sucks and a cause of anxiety in themselves.
I’ve tried taking a break… I HATE it! Unless I can give myself full permission to follow someone else’s structure or plans (this sometimes happens on holiday or on an in-house contract) I make my precise schedule and stick to it.
Chaos, boredom, followed by guilt and ultimate anxiety will ensue otherwise.
Recently I found myself with an hour to spare between two calls with clients. Feeling anxious and rather than try to work (how could I – I had nothing on my to-do list!) I sat down and look a brain dump.
This was writing down everything on my mind, all on a page. I then turned this mess into an ordered list and my heart filled with joy.
My breathing slowed; a weight lifted from my shoulders. I knew everything I needed to do was manageable and within my reach.
Just FYI: writing a new post for CFIGFY has finally made it’s way back onto my schedule. Woop!
Remember I told you about that 100 mile walk I was planning across the South Downs?
Well, I did it! That and about 20+ more due to trekking to the cute B+Bs I insisted on booking. Gotta have some comfort on the road, right?
Anyway, it was generally marvellous (bar my knee that decided to cause havoc) and if you’re interested, this is what I gained from the adventure.
To add to that, is the amazing (science-backed!) affect walking outside, ideally in nature, has an stress and anxiety.
I’ve tried skipping my morning walk on occasion: and time and again I prove how vital it is to my day. If I skip it, I feel out of sorts and riled up all day. Sometimes I add a second one in the late afternoon, especially if I’m feeling anxious.
Even if I don’t think I have time for it, it consistently makes me more focussed and productive when I get back to work.
It’s tempting to think we can deal with our struggles by ourselves. After all, it’s our problem, no one else’s right?
Regardless, just telling someone about our anxieties is a huge stress-reliever.
I realise my approach was all wrong. I figured if no one else could solve my problems for me (true) then I would keep them to myself.
What I didn’t realise, is that telling someone isn’t the same as asking for help or advice. Sometimes, you do want the latter, which is fine, and also encouraged.
But: simply having someone to LISTEN is the key here. That’s all we need! You might already knew that but it was a bloody epiphany for me.
I also learned that when someone offloads onto me: all I have to do is listen – not stress over trying to help them or tell them what to do.
Mind = blown.
Sometimes, anxiety strikes in the middle of the night. Personally, it’s never been so bad I need to call someone to talk about it.
But I’ve had those 3am thoughts.
You know the ones. They get stuck on repeat, refusing to pause, refusing to let you get back to sleep.
I’m a journal junkie, but you don’t have to be one to get the benefits.
When anxiety strikes, pick up the nearest notepad and pen and write. All the crap that’s cycling through your head, as ridiculous as it sounds: get it DOWN.
At some point you’ll run out of things to write. At this point, ask yourself how anxious you feel on a scale of 1-10? I’ll bet it’s pretty low.
Every time I do this, I always manage to fall straight back to sleep. Plus, I always get a good laugh in the morning when I read it back!
Hopefully you found some of these tips helpful if/when you find yourself coping with the anxiety monster.
I’d also love to know if you have any tips to add – pop them in the comments below!