Wednesday, 1 April 2015

6 Ways To Cope With Anxiety

I do not own this photo

After writing 10 Ways To Feel More Positive I felt this urge to continue more lifestyle and self help posts. This is a subject that's very personal and important to me so even if I help just one person I'm happy. Unfortunately, many people experience the confusing waves of negative emotions that come with anxiety but there doesn't seem to be much information on what it is, why it happens or how to deal with it. I strongly think that we need more easily accessible resources, not just for people experiencing anxiety/ depression but also for those who perhaps know somebody who suffers from anxiety and wants a better understanding of what it is and potentially, how to help.

For a long time I felt symptoms of anxiety but didn't understand what it was, sometimes it genuinely felt like I was going 'crazy' and it's hard to explain to someone how it feels without fear of being judged, especially when you don't really know what's wrong yourself. These are all normal feelings people living with anxiety may experience but hopefully after reading this post you will be able to take something positive away with you, which could potentially help you manage your anxiety, or give you the skills to support a loved one. 


Anxiety is basically a feeling of extreme worry that can range from mild to severe. It can be a constant battle that prevents you from enjoying day to day life. Some people may always feel anxious, most of the time, whereas others get it in 'spells' that can last for any length of time. Most people will feel anxious at some point in their lives. For example, it's normal to feel anxious about your test results or an approaching job interview but for someone experiencing these awful feelings on a day to day basis, it can cause difficulty with coping in everyday situations.     

Common feelings associated with anxiety are nausea, headaches, shaking, panic and fear. Severe anxiety can also lead to panic attacks, which cause an accelerated heart beat or palpitations. It can also make the sufferer feel like they are unable to breathe so many people who've had panic attacks before will say it felt like they were having a heart attack or actually dying. These are common feelings to have but it's important for everyone to know how to ease a panic attack whether it's yourself or someone else experiencing it. 


1. Is there an underlining issue?
Many people who experience anxiety were 'triggered' by something. For example, somebody who has a fear of swimming may have been triggered by a a scary situation as a child. Now I'm not saying it's ever as simple as that but looking within yourself to see what perhaps may have brought on these strong emotions can help you understand why you are feeling this way. In turn, a better understanding will help you to cope better. On the other hand, I think it's possible for somebody to be naturally anxious, without some form of trigger. In which case, getting to know yourself and what situations make you feel more anxious is a positive step in finding helpful ways to cope. It may help to write these feelings down and see if you notice a pattern, for example, I used to feel anxious on a Sunday evening, which was frustrating because that's usually the time people are relaxing. I then realised that I was feeling this way because I had work the next day (this was at my old job which was really stressful) So I started to tell myself 'Ok it sucks that I've got work tomorrow but I'm not there right now so I'm not gonna let these feelings ruin my Sunday!'  

2. Remove yourself from the situation
Let's not get this confused with 'avoidance' because this a negative coping mechanism. I am in no way shape or form saying that it's a good idea to avoid situations which make you feel anxious, in fact in my experience I've often felt really good about myself when I've forced myself into a scary situation because it's like 'yeah! I did it!' and then after time that particular situation will get easier and easier. However, If you find yourself in a negative situation, perhaps an argument or an upcoming presentation you're giving it may help to take a step into a different environment, somewhere you feel safe and at ease. It's common to feel hot and claustrophobic or even smothered when you feel anxious so taking a step outside for some fresh air will help calm you down. If you find yourself in a recurring situation that makes you feel anxious, such as your job, it maybe an idea to think about whether or not this is the job for you. I've seen so many people get taken over by the worries of their job so if you can relate to this maybe it's time to look in another direction. Of course it's scary, change is always scary but change is also a positive thing! And it may be exactly what you need.  

3. Breathe
This is probably one of the most important tips because it can prevent you from having a panic attack and help you if you're experience one. When people panic or cry they tend to hyperventilate which causes you to breathe in too much oxygen, this can lead to pins and needles and fainting. This is why it's sometimes advised to breathe into a paper bag because this will make you breathe in more carbon dioxide to balance your oxygen levels. There have been times when I've felt like I was going to have a panic attack and I've actually looked at myself in the mirror and told myself to breathe! I know this may sound a bit silly but it works for me as it forces me to concentrate on my breathing rather than letting my mind spin out of control. Tell yourself to breathe deeply and slowly and reassure yourself that everything is going to be okay. If you see someone having a panic attack accept what is happening and try and understand that it's a horrible experience to have. Don't do the whole 'c'mon get a grip!' thing; it will just make them feel worse. Instead, be calming and have a 'you can do this!' attitude.  

4. Talk
This can be the hardest but also most important step. Talking to somebody whether that's a parent, friend, work colleague or sibling can help you feel more relaxed about your anxiety. They don't say 'a trouble shared is a trouble halved' for nothing, if you keep negative feelings bottled inside they will only get stronger. Think of your anxiety as a little gremlin that lives inside of your head, the more you ignore the anxiety gremlin the louder and stronger it gets.Talking to someone you trust and feel comfortable with will give your gremlin the love that it needs and force it to get smaller and smaller, until it shrinks into a little pest, that you can flick away when need be. Anxiety is also more common than you may first think and speaking to someone with similar experiences will help you realise that you are not alone. Surround yourself with positive people who are aware of your anxiety and know what will help you calm down when you're having an attack. If you feel as though there is nobody you would feel comfortable talking to then perhaps it may be beneficial to speak to a doctor, even if it's just for a chat. When I saw the doctor I was worried about how I was going to explain how I was feeling and didn't know where on earth I was going to start but as soon as she said 'so how can I help?' I burst into tears and it all came pouring out, but reassure yourself that lot's of people feel this way and you don't need to feel embarrassed because you can bet that the doctor you see has met hundred of patience with similar issues.    

5. Make a playlist 
This is handy if you're the type of person that feels anxious in crowded places such as on a tube, bus or shopping centre. Make a playlist of your favorite music, calming and cheerful music that reminds you of happy memories. When you start feeling anxious listen to your playlist, close your eyes if this helps, and focus on the lyrics. Before you know it you'll be so zoned out in the music that you've forgotten how anxious you were feeling. Of course this might not work for everyone, but music is a powerful thing and I'd recommend giving it ago as it may surprise you. 

6. Look after your body
I'm not going to teach you how to suck eggs here but everybody should understand the importance of drinking enough water and eating well. Physical exercise (even if it's light) will also help because it releases those feel good endorphin's. Sleep is also important to keep your body and mind in check. Some people can easily function on 6 hours a night but no waaay am I that kinda gal. In my experience if I don't get my full 8 hours (at least) I won't be able to function properly the next day. I've also found that if I'm tired my anxiety tends to creep up on me so you can see that looking after your body is just as important as looking after your mind. 

So I think I'll sum this post up here as I don't want to bombard you with endless information but hopefully you've read something here that will be useful to you or a friend. If any of you have experienced anxiety or panic attacks then please post in the comments how you've managed to cope with it, someone else may find it useful! 

Neeks x

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