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Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Coping With Anxiety

Anxiety is an issue for so many people, it can range from mild anxiety that doesn't really stop you doing anything but it's not a pleasant thing to experience to extreme panic attacks and frightening feelings that stop you even leaving the house.

Anxiety was a huge hurdle in my life, and it took me a long time to work around that hurdle but once I found ways to battle it I started being able to live my life properly again. Don't get me wrong, it hasn't completely disappeared but from learning how to deal with it and finding ways to keep that anxiety from emerging has stopped anxiety being life-limiting to me.
I was always told by many people that anxiety could be helped with holistic approaches, but I dismissed that as nonsense (as perhaps you do too?), I've since found that even little changes actually do make a big impact and I wish I'd listened sooner!
Whether you're struggling with major anxiety or just feel a little stressed out now and then I hope these tips help you find peace and happiness.

Eat Well
This is perhaps the thing that made the biggest impact towards my health & happiness, who'd have thought eating more greens and cutting out refined sugar would make me feel so amazing? Make sure you eat as naturally as you can and fill your plate with yummy goodness. As well as eating lots of nourishing foods try to limit your intake of caffeine, refined sugar, preservatives, simple carbohydrates and alcohol as they've all been proven to contribute to increased stress, anxiety and depression levels - I don't mean totally eliminate these things from your life, but cutting down on them will help you feel calmer, happier and healthier. You want to be consuming these nourishing foods in a balanced out way too, so try and have a proper breakfast, lunch and dinner rather that grabbing convenient foods whenever or snacking constantly - if your diet is all over the place then your mind will be too.

Moving your body is a fantastic way to relieve anxiety - as you exercise your body releases endorphins that naturally lift your mood and make you feel calmer. I personally used to hate exercise, I was always that kid at school who'd 'forget' her P.E kit or pretend to be ill to get out of playing rounders or hockey but now I love to exercise and I find it helps my anxiety a great deal. I like to do three more intense workouts during the week and then I practice yoga every day, which definitely calms my mind. It's important to remember that your body doesn't know the difference between stress at work and stress at the gym, so don't push yourself with exercise you hate or that you don't feel like doing that particular day. Listen to your body, it'll tell you what works best.

Sleep Better
I think most of us struggle with maintaining a good routine when it comes to sleep, it's something we tend to neglect or life just gets in the way and before we know it we're going to bed at 3am every night. An irregular sleep pattern, or lack of sleep has been shown to increase irritability, increase feelings of depression, make you feel lethargic and also contribute towards anxiety.
Try to get 8-9 hours of sleep per night, ideally between 10am - 6am for optimum benefits, and stick to this routine as best you can - sleep is just as important as eating well and regular exercise.
I notice a big change in my mood, mental clarity and how I feel if my bedtime routine is all over the place but as soon as I'm back to a routine I feel lifted, happier, full of energy and have a much more positive outlook too. You can read my tips on how to sleep better here.

Did you just roll your eyes? I know I would have done if I'd read that word a year ago, but honestly it works! I have to admit I'm not brilliant at sticking to meditation every day, but when I remember to take 10 minutes out of my day to zone out and meditate it definitely helps. Meditation allows your mind to stop thinking about the past, quit stressing about the future and focus on the here and now - this practice helps you slow down and quiets the overactive mind resulting in you becoming centred and calm. It's quite difficult to do sometimes, but it gets easier the more you do it and it's incredible valuable. I love the app Headspace.

Get Some Fresh Air
Getting outside is amazing for us, whether that's going for a walk or sitting in your garden you should do it more often! I sometimes wrap myself up warm and sit on a chair in my garden when I'm feel overwhelmed, the cold fresh air and being in an outside space calms me down a lot.
Fresh oxygen flowing in your body and vital vitamin D from the sun are incredible at boosting those happiness levels!

Read & Write
Both reading and writing are fantastic things to do whether you suffer with anxiety or not, they help you manage stress levels, make you use your imagination and can lead to you feeling inspired.
Sitting down with a good book or writing in a dairy every day is a way to ensure you get away from the screens! We all probably spend too much time staring at a screen, through jobs, school, blogging or just in our spare time and it's very damaging both physically and mentally. Our minds don't get time to just stop for a while, we don't use our imagination and my brain gets full of all the things we see online rather than it being allowed to think freely.
I love getting engrossed in a gripping novel - it's a wonderful way to end the day, and it allows me to escape reality for a short amount of time too.

Talk More
You know the saying 'a problem shared is a problem halved'? Well, it's true. Sharing your worries, thoughts and fears with a friend or family member will undoubtedly make you feel like a weights been lifted off your shoulders. They might be able to help you with whatever is making you feel anxious which would be amazing, but even if they can't they could provide you with a new perspective, welcome advice or just some love & encouragement. There's nothing to lose by talking to others. I'm terrible at opening up, so I definitely need to take my own advice here!

I know how scary & lonely anxiety can be, but please remember you're not alone. So many people experience these feelings and they don't last, sometimes they might feel like they're never going to go away but I promise you it will get easier but making those simple steps is vital. If you just sit and wait for your anxiety to disappear you'll end up disappointed as it sadly doesn't work like that, so instead make small changes towards a happier life. Sometimes those changes, no matter how small, can seem very daunting but you'll feel amazing once you do them and the end result will be truly magical. Life's too short to be spent worrying, and although it's unavoidable all the time we definitely have the power to lessen it dramatically. Our lives are too precious to be anything but happy, healthy ones!

Live Happy, Live Healthy


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