For those of you who read the last post on my 4 stages of anxiety, you’ll probably guess that I’m one of those anxious types. The weirdest thing is, before I started coming out public with it a few years ago, people would never have guessed I was introverted or suffered as much as I do!
Talking about anxiety as a part of who I am, like it’s no different to me being a brunette or having five fingers, has weirdly had a normalising effect. I openly talk about it with colleagues, people I’ve only just met, and of course friends, housemates and family. Then of course I completely opened myself up and left myself vulnerable to the entire world through my blog! That was a big step in my self-confidence, but I owned it, because my main priority is to accept myself with my flaws. I am owning my anxiety and my god does it feel good! I am so driven to make sure it doesn’t control my life, and that doesn’t mean I’m perfect everyday, but I make sure I take steps as often as I can to train my brain out of my unpredictable freak outs.
I was reading this article on the Huffington Post about creative ways that improve mental health, and while I personally think they are a bit generic, they do ring true to some degree for me. So this gave me an idea in sharing with you all some of my own coping strategies when I feel my anxiety starting to kick in. These generally include:
Any form of butt moving
For me it’s weight lifting and HIIT training and occasionally some yin yoga, but this can be whatever you actually feel good doing. It could be running, swimming, sailing, barre, acrobatic yoga, zumba, dragon boat racing, playing with your dog, ANYTHING! You just need to move your body, even when you just want to lay in bed and stare at the world out the window. For me, exercise is no longer about weight loss or toning up, this is purely for mental clarity. I also think it’s a combination of the endorphins and routine (anxiety can’t thrive in the safety of routine!). Then when I’m in a good routine I can handle shit going down at work or social activities so much better compared to when I’ve had a week of sleep ins.
Getting creatively juicy
I cannot even begin to explain how much blogging has helped me with processing all the crap in my head. I know that publishing your sanity and deepest thoughts on the internet isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so find an outlet that you enjoy and do it instead of wasting every night being a Netfllix zombie. Paint, read, cook, sketch, write, design, maybe you could even sell it on Esty! I also started video editing my travel videos early this year which I LOVE doing! My most recent videos covered a group trip to Russia which was phenomenal, and then I did another of the Balkans including Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania. I’ve included them below! Unfortunately it does take a lot of effort collecting the raw footage so blogging has had to be an infill for the meantime. I think being creative helps anxiety because it focuses you in the present – while you’re creating you don’t have time to fully freak out about anything. You also learn a new skill, you keep your brain happy and busy, and away from mindlessly scrolling on Facebook and Instagram.
Have a ‘moment’ in public
So I trialled a little exercise a couple of weeks ago for my Reflection Sundays and that was to find happiness in small moments. Something that made me look up from my phone and truly appreciate the small miracles and beauty around me everyday. Some days were harder than others and the experiences were varied, from having a really nice interaction with a complete stranger, to the colour of autumn leaves, early morning sunrises and long brunches with my boyfriend. Truth is, I was actually doing that exercise a couple of weeks in the lead up to blogging about it, and what I’ve realised lately is that I’ve started doing it automatically. I’ve noticed that I’m genuinely happy in the mornings in my exchanges with shop keepers and can cope with people if they are melting with stress. It’s the little moments that help me in my tougher moments and help me finish the day with my sanity still in place. You do have to make a conscious effort to savour each moment that makes you happy, but once you get used to doing it, suddenly the shit days don’t seem so shit or unmanageable anymore.