Sunday, 14 April 2019

Let's talk anxiety.

We all know anxiety can be the worst thing, especially when you feel calm one minute and the next you feel like your dying so I've asked a few of my fellow anxiety bloggers some questions about their anxiety and how to control it because so many people suffer with anxiety so this post will be beneficial to those who struggle on a day to day basis.

Hey Lucy, how do you cope with your anxiety?

Coping with anxiety can be very hard, especially when you first start to experience it. I remember being absolutely terrified when my anxiety first emerged as i thought i was severely ill or something, it was really quite scary. However, over time you do come to terms with the fact you aren't dying and that it is indeed anxiety. Although saying this, this doesn't make it less difficult to cope with. 

One of the main ways i cope is by telling myself 'you don't have to do anything if you don't feel up to it'. This helps to remind me not to stress if i don't feel up to a task on a particular day, because you suffer with anxiety you don't know how your brain is going to be. This really helps to take the pressure off and if i do feel like i can do whatever the task may be, then great! If not, then it doesn't matter. Another way i cope is through breathing techniques. If i start to feel particularly anxious/panicky, i use the '7/11' technique. You can take a deep breath in, hold for 7 seconds and slowly breath out for 11. This really helps to regulate your breathing and stop you from hyperventilating. Making sure your breathing is under control can make all the difference and definitely help get you back to a calmer state. Another technique i like to use, is visualisation. Again, if i'm feeling particularly anxious, i try and picture something happy. Perhaps think of myself lying on the beach, or in my happy place. This helps to distract your mind from the thing you're panicking about and to help you to focus on something much calmer. The last technique i often use, is a grounding exercise. It's called the '54321 game'. You name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. Like the visualisation, it forces you to take your mind away from whatever you're anxious about and also brings you back to reality by recognising physical things around you. 

Hey Lucy, what advice would you give to someone who suffers from anxiety? 

The first thing i'd say is, don't feel ashamed. Mental illness is not something to feel ashamed about and nobody should make you feel that way either. You can't help it, it's the same as a broken leg, nobody would dismiss that. Speaking of which, you wouldn't dismiss treatment for a broken leg, so why would you dismiss treatment for mental illness? I'd recommend seeing a therapist, partaking in CBT, exposure therapy, EMDR anything that you feel will benefit you in the long run. Don't feel disheartened if the therapy you're undergoing doesn't feel like it's working either, you can try different things and see what works best for you. Alongside therapy, medication is an option. I know many people get scared by the prospect of taking medication for their mental illness but i promise it isn't as daunting as it may seem. If you think it could help you live your day to day life a little easier, then why not give it a go? You can talk to your GP or therapist about which medication may be best for you and can even start on small doses and work your way up so the side effects aren't as prominent. Again, if you had a broken leg, so why not your brain?

Besides treating your anxiety within your daily life, i'd advice not to put too much pressure on yourself. The more stress you're inviting in, which in turn will make you anxiety worse. Like i said before, don't force yourself into tasks you don't feel like you can complete. If you wake up one day feeling super anxious and you we're meant to be going out with a friend for an example, just let them know you're not feeling up to it and they'll understand. Well, providing they know that you suffer from anxiety. So i guess that's another piece of advice. If you feel comfortable, let your close family and friends know you suffer with anxiety. It's best to talk to people closest to you and let them know how you feel. Not only does opening up help lift some weight off your shoulders, but they can help you out if you're feeling particularly anxious. 

So, overall, i think that is the main advice i'd give. Try out therapy, try medication, don't put too much pressure on yourself and open up to close family/friends (if that is something you're comfortable with). 

Hey Lucy, when you're anxiety isn't good and you feel like staying at home, what do you do to calm yourself down?

If i wake up and don't feel as though i can deal with doing whatever i was supposed to, i tell myself it doesn't matter. Nothing is as important as your mental wellbeing. This instantly helps to reduce the anxiety of not turning up to something and the thoughts of 'oh what if i'm letting people down?'. If i'm feeling panicky or feel as though a panic attack may come on, i try and sit myself down on the sofa or in my bed and do those breathing exercises. I'll combine that with the visualisation and keep focusing. 

Hey Leah, how do you cope with your anxiety?

I mostly read to help calm my anxiety down and also talking about it to my friends make me cope with it a lot more than keeping it in. 

Hey Leah, what advice would you give to someone who suffers from anxiety?

My advice would be don't keep it inside, talk to someone who will listen and give you some helpful advice. Normally, my boyfriend will come round and bring me chocolate and some things to help me feel better and we will normally watch something on Netflix (normally the kissing booth) and reading calms me down. 

Hey Leah, when you're anxiety isn't good and you feel like staying at home, what do you do to calm yourself down?

When my anxiety kicks in it makes me feel annoyed, it could happen at anytime and then all the emotions come flooding out. But, sometimes it's a nice feeling.  It's nice to sometimes let all the emotions out and sometimes a good cry is a good thing!

Hey Carissa, how do you cope with your anxiety?

Usually i talk to someone that i trust. I'm a people person, and even though people can be the cause of some of my anxiety, it helps to talk things through with either my best friend or teacher who i trust a lot. I also pray when i am anxious and can't get hold of myself. 

Hey Carissa, what advice would you give to someone who suffers from anxiety?

I would first tell them that there is nothing 'wrong' with feeling anxious. They shouldn't feel fab about being anxious, it's a normal human emotion. It's also very important to identify who your support system is. Find a couple of people who you trust and make sure they are people that want the best for you. You should always make time for yourself, you have to make sure you are physically healthy because that can effect mental health. 

Hey Carissa, when your anxiety isn't good and you feel like staying at home, what do you do to calm yourself down?

I make sure to eat something, even if it's something small. Sometimes, i'll take the time to do something i like, such as journaling. One technique i actually use to help kindergarten students is this - 'choose to be a S.T.A.R' which stands for 'smile, take a deep breath, and relax'. Pausing and breathing helps helps, i also try to remember all the great things in life, from cute puppies to all the wonderful people God has blessed me with. 

I tend to overthink EVERYTHING which gets me super anxious. I feel sad and overwhelmed and usually start crying. In the past i've had anxiety attacks where i breathe really fast and kind of get a headache. My anxiety and stress also causes me to lose my appetite, which has caused me to skip lots of meals. Now that i have addressed this problem with a councillor and a doctor, i am working on making sure to eat more!

Hey Leighanne, how do you cope with you anxiety?

I've always been an introvert and like my own company. I don't try to be somebody i'm not! In situations where i don't feel comfortable i remove myself from it because it's not worth it. I love me for me. I used to always think of what others thought of me, now i'm like everyone's different, we all have different thoughts. The way i look at it is the more you show your confidence and love within yourself, the better you will be on the outside. Music is also something i enjoy, i listen to the words than the sounds and it helps me through sad times. Feeling better about yourself through something your passionate about always helps. 

Hey Leighanne, what advice would you give to someone who suffers from anxiety?

Find someone you love and focus on that. It could be a hobby, finding a new friend, doing something out your comfort zone. As long as you get past the first hurdle you can do anything, don't ever think you can't because you can! It took a lot for me to get through what i went through. Growing up and not necessarily a lesson learnt but experience. It's the bad time that remind you how strong you really are. Experience makes you the person you are today. 

Hey Leighanne, when your anxiety isn't good and you feel like staying at home, what do you do to calm yourself down? 

I've always found the law of attraction to be a winner for me. I love positive thoughts and quotes. I love watching the secret, it's a powerful video. It's amazing, the message behind it, it really gets you thinking about how the universe actually acts on those feelings and thoughts you have, whether i feel down or not myself the secret is a good thing to read through too. 

It's hard, i'm a lot better at managing it now than i was then. You begin to forget about how others make you feel. Judge you or criticise you. At the end of the day, it's how you see life and how you look at it. Others might be one step ahead of you or one step behind you but remember that your the only one that actually looks after you. If your not happy on the inside, how can anybody else make you happy? Don't dwell on negativity, use it to make you a better person. 

So for me, my anxiety originated when i was in my early teens. I had a bad experience and from there i remember often feeling panicky and uncontrollably worrying about things. My gorgeous mum had cancer at the time i actually developed OCD so my anxiety got worse. My mum the passed away and my anxiety sky high rocketed and i finally decided i couldnt cope with it by myself anymore. From there i went through CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and then headed off to university, where unfortunately my anxiety got worse again and in year two i had to drop out due to being too mentally unwell to carry on with my studies. Since then i've developed Fibromyalgia and chronic Fatigue and last year (2018) i was bed bound for most of the year with anxiety, depression and chronic illness. Thankfully, through having grief counselling i'm finally feeling much better and i'm off to uni in September! So, i've completely been in the midst of the worst anxiety so i hope i can help with these answers. 

Hey Lizzie, how do you cope with your anxiety?

For me it took me quite a while to figure out what worked for me and what didn’t. For years I practiced damaging behaviours but through help I have found methods that work for me, The most important thing for me to do when I’m struggling is to talk to my loved ones,. It helps me get all of my worries out in the open and once I’ve told them I know I’m no longer alone with it which really helps. As I struggle with emetophobia, I can get anxious around food but again, I just let someone know and I make sure to not put pressure on myself to eat if I don’t want to. Something really important to do when you have anxiety is to not put too much pressure on yourself. It can be easier said than done but the kinder you are to yourself, the more you will help yourself with your mental health. Remember to take a break when you need to and if you are in a situation where you can’t cope, let someone know and then do what is right for you. I also have sleep anxiety and so regarding this, calming scents such as those from Neom really help diffuse my anxiety if ever I feel anxious before bed. Getting enough sleep is also really helpful as when you are overtired, everything seems a little worse than it is. Getting enough sleep will help you to rationalise situations a bit better, and in turn, help your anxiety levels.

Hey Lizzie, what advice would you give to someone who suffers from anxiety?

I’ve already said this, but honestly just talking to someone you trust can make a world of difference. I struggled with my anxiety by myself for a few years as I didn’t want to put anything else on my family’s shoulders after mum died, but finally I just let it all out to them and I instantly felt so much better. I would also say let your doctors know, they are completely used to dealing with anxiety and all kinds of mental health problems and as it’s becoming more well known, mental health is just as important as physical health so please don’t ever feel embarrassed for asking for help. From my experience with doctors and anxiety, they will talk it through with you and then run you through the help they think is right for the situation. Just remember, everyone around you wants to help and be there for them so please don’t feel bad about needing a little help or reassurance.

Hey Lizzie, when your anxiety isn't good and you feel like staying at home, what do you do to calm yourself down?

Whenever I’m having a rough anxiety day, I make sure to not put pressure on myself to do anything too heavy-duty. For example, long road trips or a big social event would have to be cancelled as I know I could struggle in those situations. I try and make sure I’m not by myself as I will tend to overthink situations which will make me more anxious, so if dad or my older sister isn’t around, usually my lovely boyfriend  comes over and we end up turning a potentially awful day into a cute cosy day with Disney, puppy cuddles and lots of blankets. If I’m feeling a bit down, I’ll make sure to plan at least one exciting thing I can do when I’m feeling a little better (even if it’s just an afternoon out to Primark!) which will help keep my spirits up and will remind me that everything isn’t as bad as it seems.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to all the girls that have put time and effort into raising awareness of anxiety because we all know how terrifying it can be. It's been a pleasure to have worked with some amazing, strong and lovely girls.

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