Friday, 16 May 2014

Managing anxiety

So you've heard a lot about what anxiety is like....but what can you do about it?

As always these are my personal ways of coping...Some I've picked up through treatment, others are just random so please, please assume they'll all work for you or take this list as some sort of preachy manual. It's just what works for me.

I've split it down into sections to try to make my natural tendency towards rambling nonsense more palatable.

Dealing with sudden acute panic
- Yell STOP inside my head (or outside but the embarrassment of doing so in public is a little counter productive lol) and take a couple of deep breaths. Sometimes if I notice the spiral early on this is enough to shock my brain out of it long enough to get more of a handle on my thoughts.

- 4/6 breathing that I've talked about before.

- pretty sure this isn't technically recommended but taking a deep breath and holding it as long as I can. In a weird way it reminds me in in control of my breathing and stops it rising towards hyperventilation. At the same time it focuses my brain away from racing thoughts. But I have been known to use this as quasi sh type behaviour in the past so I'm cautious.

- blast music. Shockingly loud. Usually in the car but also through headphones. Loud enough that my brain can't get a word in edgeways. Again there's a but, I know if I'm not carefully this can push me towards dissociation and drifting away from the world so I try to be careful.

- recite lines. The ringing sort not the acting sort lol. It's safe and familiar and repetitive and takes up a lot of attention.

- repetitive mantras. I have a few. They'd not mean much to anyone else tbh lol but you get the idea. Most of mine aren't 'fluffy' they're silly or funny or about something I care about. A variation on reciting lines when my brain isn't in gear enough to cope with them.

Controlling general underlying anxiety
This is the anxiety that never escalates to the point of total panic but just sits there nagging, looking away at you.

- listen to music. More sensibly than above though lol.

- paint my nails....obviously. Particularly nail art of I have time, though only if my hands aren't shaking too badly cos if they are the frustration makes things worse.

- make tea. Ok, yea, I know how terribly british haha. But, rather like reciting lines, it's familiar and down to earth and soothing. Plus you get tea at the end of it :p.

- talk. Obviously. Our not obviously, I dunno. Usually via text/WhatsApp/fb more because I find that less anxiety provoking in itself

- games. Any games. Silly games, easy games mainly. I love mini games.... intense concentration but only in short bursts lol.

- write. Blog, journal, rant, whatever.

- or read. Though this can be difficult when anxiety and skipping thoughts make it hard to concentrate.

- drive. I dunno if this is sensible or not really. But moving helps. And being out of the house but in a way that's still safe and contained and separate from nasty reality.... plus I just love driving tbh.

And how I decrease the anxiety before it even happens
Because prevention is better than cure, right? And whilst it's hard to get into and keep up good habits it does help. And can in fact make you feel better, more positive, kinder towards yourself. Maybe.

- sleep. Get enough of it. Regularly. I'm bad at this one... She says at nearly midnight when the alarm will be going off at half six. I managed 2.5 hours last night, epic fail. Must try harder.

- for me personally, avoiding coffee and full sugar fizzy drinks. I appear not to handle them well.

- regular mindfulness/meditation practice.

- keeping my car and living space tidy and keeping my diary organised. Mess and chaos and unpredictability tend not to be good for the anxious brain.... and double booking yourself definitely isn't!

- talking to friends about the anxiety and how you might act sometimes and why you might act that way. This can help reduce some of the 'anxious about being anxious' feelings.

- Eat right. Take meds. Shower regularly. Cleanse and moisturise. Generally treat myself with a little respect.

And lots of other things those are just a). The more reasonable ones and b). The ones that happened to pop into my head lol.

Right, what was that about getting enough sleep?! X