I thought it might be helpful to write down the things that I find help my anxiety currently, things to reset your mind on those days which are particularly a struggle.
When the adrenaline is pumping away, I seem to find burning some of that energy a good way to calm down, whether that be a power walk or a run. Put on a playlist or podcast, go alone, and try and switch off your thoughts. I always start my day this way now and it seems to reset my mind and calm down that unwelcome adrenaline.
Yoga is my other way of calming too and allows me to completely switch off and concentrate on the moves and my breathing. I have done a post solely on my yoga journey. If you’re not the most flexible, there are all sorts of different levels of yoga on Youtube, ones that concentrate more on breathing and relaxation than the more physical side.
The great outdoors
Gardening has been a massive form of therapy for me. Being outdoors and creating a green space, seeing flowers bloom from seed, and picking vegetables I have grown is so rewarding. When you are feeling at your worst, you feel a failure and feel you can’t achieve anything, the garden is a great place to be. Its about learning, trial and error and there is no pressure – I found it such a happy place to be when at my worst.
When my anxiety is at its worst, I can’t seem to concentrate on reading or watching something, I feel like I need to do something but at the same time I don’t want to go out, especially if the weather is terrible and I can’t garden. I have found writing such a good outlet for my restlessness. If writing isn’t your thing, perhaps drawing or doodling, just something to take your mind off how restless you are feeling. I also love learning new craft skills, macramé and weaving being my favourites.
Tidying the house refocuses my attention on the job in hand and makes me feel productive. Sort out those drawers you have been meaning to do for ages, clear out your wardrobe, tackle that messy cupboard. At the end of it all, you will have accomplished something and calmed your noisy thoughts.
Create a calm playlist. When my thoughts seem so loud and noisy, I find loud noisy music stressful. I have created a playlist of songs that are either purely instrumental or that I generally find relaxing. I tend to have my earphones with me at all times and will listen to this playlist when entering a more stressful busy situation.
Podcasts to beat the Insomnia
I have SleepPhones headphones which are brilliant if you suffer, like me, with insomnia. I listen to relaxing Podcasts to switch off and eventually manage to sleep. My paticular favourite is Desert Island Discs with Kirsty Young – her voice is so mellow and relaxing!
Fearne Cotton’s Happy Place Podcast
I found this podcast at exactly the time I needed it. I felt so alone when I was diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorder, and listening to this podcast made me feel so much more positive.
I loved the episode in particular with Stephen Fry and his positive outlook on suffering from a mental illness.
“you can be free of its worse side and not only that, I would almost want to say, and it’s not always true, but the very attention you have paid your mind and your happiness makes your life that much richer than people who don’t even need to bother to think about it much from one day to the other. You have allowed yourself to think about things like happiness and it’s so rare to do that.” Stephen fry – Happy Place Podcast
Take time out
When things are feeling so overwhelming, either go outside and have some time to settle yourself, or have a lie down in a quiet room and just concentrate on your breathing. Accept how you are feeling, trying to suppress it will only make things worse. Accept and know it won’t last forever and just take that time to reset your mind.
When feeling on the edge of panic, I find having a very cold glass of water helpful. When you’re feeling anxious, your mouth feels so dry so keeping hydrated can help this symptom and the coldness seems to change your focus slightly.
Lavender pillow spray
I was bought a lavender pillow spray and have been using it every day and it is such a calming smell and one that reminds me of happy times. I suffer from insomnia regularly these days and it helps me settle down and get to sleep.
I have quotes everywhere these days, written in notepads I carry around with me, a Pinterest board of positivity, various quotes saved into the notes section on my phone. When I am feeling everything is negative, it helps to read these quotes and keep them going over in my mind.
If you are feeling like you can do nothing more than sit and watch something on the television, I love documentaries for keeping my mind occupied and learning something new. I have gone through numerous Louis Theroux episodes, Joanna Lumley’s Japan, and whatever Netflix has to offer!
Run a bath, light a candle, put a face mask on and sit back and relax. I love the smell of rose and find it so soothing, my favourites face masks are this Wild Sage one, and also this Body Shop one. If you are having a bad day, I find almost starting again with either a bath or shower and making yourself feeling lovely and fresh is a good way to reset your mind for the day.
Chamomile and Honey Tea
My absolute favourite, I find it so soothing and just knowing that chamomile is calming makes me feel I am doing something to fight the anxiety.
Now this is a funny one, part of me says switch off social media if it makes you feel rubbish. But I have curated my Instagram now to just the people and things that make me feel happy. I tend to follow travel, illustration and interiors based pages that motivate me. Now when it comes to your own grid, I absolutely love taking photographs and love to fill my grid with things that fill me with happiness. It’s a tricky one as I also don’t like that our lives can all look so peachy on Instagram, if you look on my own account – you wouldn’t know that the majority of this year has been spent feeling extreme anxiety on a daily basis. But I like to look at my own grid and remind myself that though every day is not going to be a good day, there is good in every day and that this time hasn’t been a write off, there has been lots of good things and it helps me when I feel myself feeling low and frustrated at my own anxiety. I say when it comes to social media, do what will make you feel healthy and happy.
I came off Facebook as I found that unhelpful and triggering. You need to know when to switch off social media, to protect your mental health. I personally found Instagram a good tool to create my own happy little space to glance at and remind myself that life is for living. But I also know when to avoid it and have that healthy balance.
Avoid making advanced plans
This isn’t always possible, but I found when I made plans and then couldn’t possibly do them – it made me feel a failure, that I was letting people down and that I was letting anxiety win. I found not making solid plans, and then doing things more spontaneously as and when I felt able to meant I felt proud of the things I did do, and not frustrated at the plans I didn’t manage. As I am beginning to feel more myself again, I have started making plans here and there, building up to it slowly.
Let those you trust know how you are feeling. Letting someone in and talking can sometimes be a weight off your shoulder, and when you feel able, explain exactly what you need when you are in the throes of your anxiety. It will feel scary to open up, but you will cherish that support that you receive in return from your loved ones.
Be kind to yourself
You know how you are feeling and only you. Take your time, be patient with yourself. Avoid pressure, and try and not feel you need to please everybody all the time. This last one is one I struggle with daily and hope to conquer with my therapy session.
The Wellbeing Service has been brilliant from day one, fitting me in for an appointment within a week or so. I have been in contact weekly for months now. It’s hard going, you have to want to work at your anxiety, sometimes it feels as though it makes me worse but I know it’s because I’m facing it. It’s so good to speak over everything with someone impartial and I think it’s an incredibly important part of recovery. I always make sure I put aside at least 20-30 minutes a day for my CBT ‘homework’.
And there you have it, the things that I find help my daily anxiety. I hope you have found this helpful if you are new to anxiety and panic like me, and struggle to find ways to reset your mind and refocus.