Hello, anxiety, my old friend…
Ok, so I don’t have all of the answers, but boy! I wish I did.
I wrote a post a few months ago (I say that, nearly a year ago, are you sure?!) called “5 ways to help control Anxiety” which identifies great ways to cope when you feel like it is swallowing you whole. But sometimes, if not always, it isn’t as easy as recognising when you are feeling anxious. When you are high-functioning, you push it to the back of your mind, and it comes out in different forms.
The past few weeks have been very stressful, and my anxiety has been all over the place. I’m quite lucky in the sense that, aside from the panic attacks and the anxious-states of confusion every so often, I am quite a high-functioning kind of anxious person anyway, so more often than not I can carry on my daily life without noticing bad habits coming through. This can include picking impulsively at my skin, cleaning erratically, counting touches and becoming very obsessive in particular areas of my life. Even though I become more stressed, I physically can’t stop doing things because I feel so guilty if I do. Oh, the circle of anxiety, you jolly old thing.
I know I’m not the only one who gets like this. So I wanted to share some ways of dealing with these anxious symptoms.
How do I know I am anxious?
Has your behaviour changed?
Are you doing things more often, impulsively doing an action or routine, avoiding certain things or are you feeling more agitated than usual? The thing is, anxiety comes in so many different forms and affects your body in so many ways. I find that I never notice my behaviour changing myself, until someone points out that I’m agitated or I’m doing things erratically and don’t realise it myself.
Consciously finding a stop to these actions and finding the root of these issues (are you picking at your skin to gain control of something in your life you haven’t got control over? Are you cleaning because you feel that you are out of your depth and something is bugging you?). Don’t be scared to face these feelings – it’s really important.
Are you having physical symptoms?
When I’m feeling really bad, I start to get pains, feel dizzy and sick, my skin gets bad, I stumble my words and feel generally dazed. I say to myself ‘I feel so ill’ and wonder why when I go 100mph and forget to take time out and rest (with Fibromyalgia as well, I definitely don’t do myself any favours!).
It is hard to tell when it is actual illness over anxiety, but keeping mental or physical note and recognising familiar feelings will ultimately remind you of when to stop – this is something that takes a lot of practice and a hell of a lot of patience, but it’s a start!
Have you said no?
If you wonder why you’ve been going 100mph, and once you have stopped you suddenly get a rush of panic and a ‘shit I need to do this, this, this, this’ then this is a good indicator of high-functioning anxiousness and stress. Take a breather, you’ll be ok. The world won’t end.
What is making me feel this way?
More often than not, something is digging away at your anxiety. It can take ages to really get to the bottom of it, but talking to people, writing it down in a diary, or even getting a worry book really helps to dig away at what could be making you worry.
It may even be something that you hadn’t even thought of, a niggling thought hanging at the back of your mind.
It may even be linked to stress, overthinking and not allowing yourself to have some time out.
By finding the source, recognising its’ impacts and understanding what can be done to help can really takes the weight off of your anxious mind, leading you to ways to deal with these feelings and face them.
How can I help?
My previous post goes into more detail, but some simple tips include:
Changing your lifestyle choices
I always find that listening to podcasts, calming music, sleeping and eating better and implementing better lifestyle choices really helps me to feel more relaxed, controlled and better about myself.
This won’t cure your anxiety (accepting and loving your lovely worrying mind makes this a lot easier to deal with!) but it will definitely take some of the weight off of your shoulders when you take back the control of the things your mind feels threatened by.
Is there something you can do to help? Are you not taking time off when you need to? Are you not facing something that you really need to? Are you breathing properly, relaxing your body and introducing some coping mechanisms into your daily routine that will help?
Write it out
Writing it down, creating mind-maps or creating lists really helps you to see the issues you are facing, and take back the control that you feel out of. Particularly when feeling overwhelmed and stressed, you can visualise a realistic and logical perspective of what you are anxious about, and in particular how you feel. It is important that your anxiety knows that you are safe and that you know what you’re doing.
Take time out
I cannot stress this enough! I mention it every time but taking time out to look after yourself is absolutely vital to supporting your mental wellbeing. How can you expect to take care of your mind when you are not looking after it? How can you expect to feel fine when you are neglecting your body?
All of these external demands seem really uninteresting when you realise and have the perspective that nothing will get done if you are not in the right state of mind or taking care of yourself like you should do.
Now stop… sit down, have a bath, take a walk, sit with a loved one, do something to make yourself feel good. You do not need to be ‘on it’ 24/7. There is nothing forcing you to do things but yourself.
How do you deal with the physical symptoms of stress/anxiety?