It’s no secret that I struggle with anxiety.
Sure, it’s considered a common mental health problem nowadays—but anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders are still a bit of a taboo to talk about.
I’ve only just started being more open about my experiences because I was worried people would somehow think less of me once they learned about my internal battles.
As it turns out, people are much more understanding than you think they’re going to be—and more people than you realise are also struggling with mental health issues. In fact, according to Mind, 1 in 4 of us are affected by them in the UK.
It’s comforting to know that many people are in the same boat as me or have been in the past.
I mean, I used to be the girl that would spend hours worrying what people thought of me, the girl that felt emotionally distressed for weeks before a big presentation at university and the girl that constantly felt overwhelmed with life on a day-to-day basis.
I’m in no way cured but I feel like, at 28 years old, I finally have some sort of control over my anxiety.
I know the warning signs before a huge bout hits, I know what to do to ease my symptoms and I know that it’s only a matter of time before my anxiety cools down again.
Any mental health issue is a struggle to deal with, but there are some things that you can do to lift the anxiety fog before it disperses completely.
I’m in no way an expert, but the following 10 tips have helped me massively over the years when it comes to coping with anxiety. Therefore, I sincerely hope that they help you too!
For me, there are certain things that can trigger off my anxiety.
This awareness has come with age, but I can now pinpoint what it is that’s making me feel anxious so I can address it head-on.
For instance, big social group situations with new people has always been an obstacle for me on my path to anxiety-free living. There’s something about being put on the spot in large groups that makes me feel like a shy little girl on her first day of primary school.
The first step to recovery or a better way of coping with anxiety is to identify what is making you feel like your heart is racing a million beats per minute in your chest. Is it social situations? Your physical health? How you look in your underwear?
Once you’ve got more of an idea what your triggers are, you can start combating them with targeted techniques to work towards a better you.
A lot of anxiety sufferers, like me, are super self-critical and often talk to themselves in a negative, condescending way.
For instance, I tell myself I’m an idiot if I get tongue-tied in a social situation.
Am I idiot though? I don’t know—probably not, but my mind tells me I am.
We have a habit of being too hard on ourselves when we’re struggling with our mental health, which can only escalate the problem even further.
Sometimes we have to have a firm word with ourselves when we’re coping with anxiety. If you’re kinder to yourself and talk to yourself internally as if you’re talking to a friend, then this will help. And always remember: it’s okay not to be okay.
One thing that has helped my anxiety improve a huge amount recently is the idea that your thoughts are not real.
By this, I mean that negative thoughts need to be stopped in their tracks. You need to separate real life from the reality that your mind is telling you.
Like when my mind is telling me I’m an idiot for getting tongue-tied in a meeting, for example.
What’s the evidence that I’m an idiot? Sure, I got tongue-tied for 30 seconds of the meeting—but what about the other five minutes I was talking? Doesn’t that show my capability and the fact that I’m not actually an idiot? What’s wrong with being an idiot anyway?
Your mind has a habit of honing in on the negative when it’s not 100% happy—and it’s important to challenge these unhelpful thoughts. You have to show it who’s boss and never ever give in.
Some of us anxiety sufferers could sit and worry for hours if you let us! However, you don’t need me to tell you that this isn’t exactly healthy.
It’s okay to worry, just try to control the amount of worry that you’re performing on a daily basis.
Construct yourself a worry window, which is ten minutes of the day where you’re allowed to worry, and then simply don’t allow yourself to worry the rest of the time.
If you feel a worry coming on afterwards, stop that bad boy in its tracks and tell it that you will deal with it tomorrow in your next worry window.
I know it’s easier said than done, but give this technique a try. Once you get the hang of it, believe it or not, it actually works. Take that, worry!
One of my top tips for coping with anxiety is to exercise regularly. Exercise sometimes cures my anxiety like nothing else.
Sure, working out at the gym or going to a Zumba class helps you to stay in shape—but it also massively clears the mind. Cheers, endorphins!
Whether you do it once per day or once per week, exercise whenever you can to keep the anxiety monster at bay.
You’ll thank yourself for it later.
Self-care is also extremely important for coping with anxiety.
Whether it’s taking a long, hot bubble bath, watching hours of Netflix or participating in your hobby—make sure you do whatever makes your heart happy. And do it regularly.
It might sound simple, but it really does help. Why not give it a go?
Now, I realize that joining a support group can be extremely difficult for us worry warts. In fact, it might only make us worry more!
However, who says that the support group needs to be a physical group that you attend on a weekly basis?
No, support groups can be people you meet on Twitter with similar conditions, your closest friend or online communities that specialise in mental health.
As long as you’ve got your own army of people that you feel safe opening up to and can chat to about what you’re going through, then your anxiety really doesn’t stand a chance.
It sounds cliche, but talking is a tonic. As tempting as it might be, don’t keep everything bottled up as it will only prove detrimental to your mental health in the long-run.
Self-help books are a lifesaver for coping with anxiety. I swear I have like, a million.
Some self-help books are anxiety-focused, whereas some are just about living your best life. Either way, reading them on a regular basis really helps me to stay calm.
With anxiety, the more you learn about it, the easier is gets. Knowledge really is power… So make sure you read up on those self-help books pronto!
For those of us who have anxiety pertaining to particular situations (i.e. me in big social group settings), the best way to overcome it is to put yourself in that situation.
This is called “exposure therapy” and is known to be extremely effective.
I’m still working on keeping my anxiety under control during my trigger situations, but I don’t actively avoid them. That’s the worst thing I could do.
Why? Well, it will only reinforce my negative thoughts and I’ll never be able to see that the situation isn’t as scary as I thought.
Generally speaking, you have to put yourself in an anxiety-provoking situation so you can give yourself the opportunity to kick its ass.
It might take a wee while to get the hang of but, if you take it one step at a time, you’re guaranteed to make progress.
If all else fails, your worry is seriously taking over on a daily basis and you’ve forgotten just how beautiful life is, then it might be time to get some professional help.
FYI—there’s absolutely no shame in asking for help as everyone needs it sometimes.
Whether you visit your GP or go to a counsellor, it’s important to do whatever it takes to help you manage your anxiety better.
It might seem daunting at first but, once you’ve taken that first step, you’ll be so relieved. Trust me.
And, once you hit rock bottom, the only way is up.
It’s always super difficult coping with anxiety when you don’t have a clue how to manage it or what to do to make yourself feel better. However, keep learning, take small steps to aid your recovery and don’t ever lose your desire to work on yourself. Even though you might still be battling anxiety, you’ll soon find that your symptoms ease and you’re more closer to winning the battle than you’ve ever been before. You’ve got this.
Skirt – Marks & Spencer (similar here)
Bag – Michael Kors (similar here)
Sandals – New Look (similar here)
Earrings – Sports Girl (similar here)
Eyeshadow – Kylie Cosmetics Birthday Eyeshadow Palette (similar here)
Bronzer – Benefit Hoola Lite
Highlighter – Benefit High Beam
Foundation – MAC Studio Sculpt
Concealer – Estee Lauder Double Wear
Eyeliner – Rimmel London Exaggerate Liquid Liner
Mascara – Too Faced Better Than Sex Waterproof
What are your tips for coping with anxiety? Let me know in the comments below!