Hi friends. You’ll never guess what I got given this weekend?
(Unless I’ve told you in person.)
A cup of tea “with added perspective.” Actual bottled perspective. In my tea. Such is this modern world. It was after the
best only vegan massage of my life, so for anyone who cares, liquid perspective is definitely plant-based.
Now I love tea, and inhaling bath bombs for well over an hour had left me parched, so I downed it in one. And I like to think that the absorption of liquid perspective into my gut is the reason I suddenly feel so inspired to alphabetise my favourite anxiety remedies.
It will either be really helpful or really wanky but what else is one supposed to do with an English degree?
For anyone who has stumbled upon this blog for the first time, alongside documenting the everyday chaos of being a twenty-something chasing big dreams in shoes that don’t fit, I sometimes travel into the pretty lush territory of living with anxiety. The funny and relatable bits of incessant hypochondria and perpetual butterflies. To demystify mental health and get it all out of my head and onto paper.
Right now I’m prettyyy good. If you don’t count the day I actually cried over spilt milk and the fact that my skin is so bad I could weep. When will the day come that I’m not queueing in line with people still worrying about their Year 9 Sats to try the new Freederm range? I feel relaxed, on top of things, happy, and less fluttery than usual.
So I thought, while I’ve got all this rationale in my digestive system, I would make a list of what gets me out of a funk, in the hope it might help anyone else desperate to be a superhero but constantly tripping up on their cape. My anxiety alphabet is a combination of things to build into an everyday routine to try and maintain a more positive outlook, as well as those in-case-of-emergency spoonfuls of sugar. Remedies for the symptoms rather than the causes but every little helps and this girl don’t have time to dig that deep today. So without further ado…
A is for… Air
I’m talking fresh air, oxygen, space. Venturing outside, preferably with all the trees, a beach and at least one animal to rescue. Getting away from the panic zone, realising the world ain’t going anywhere, and putting one foot in front of the other until you’re back on track.
Slowly realising the first two on my list make it look like I’m writing a First Aid training manual. Totally feel like I’m in Casualty. Anyway. Integrating deep breathing into your daily routine, and not just when you’re feeling overwhelmed, is vital. Your brain the oxygen and it’s a good excuse to play sleeping lions IMO.
Clean clothes, clean sheets, clean skin. However wanky it sounds, it’s a simple and effective way to calm the hell down. Also easy to build into a routine and good for the soul innit – dare you to put on some whalesong at the same time. Feed back and tell me if it’s too much.
Anything to get you out of your own head and doing something that isn’t beating yourself up (or googling symptoms.) This might be cooking if you’re not me and regularly burning water or playing the piano… For me right now it’s getting competitive on my boyfriend’s playstation. It feels good when the biggest thing you’re worrying about in the evening is capturing an escape pod on Battlefront. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.
I’m very rubbish at exercising frequently. I struggle to run unless someone’s legged it with my Krispy Kremes and I’m pretty sure Pilates gave me a hernia. But there’s literally nada better for raising your endorphins, Lena Dunham swears by it and she is the gospel, and it sure as heck feels good when you get your donuts back AND look 0.5% more like Jessica Ennis.
Friends: your Anxieteam.
The people who will listen to you and get you through it. Because you’re never alone. I overshare because I lack a filter but my goodness I’m so grateful for the people who at a moment’s notice will sit on Skype and feel their boobs to assure me I’m normal. Find an Anxieteam and create an emergency WhatsApp group who’ve got your back.
Feeling lucky can often be enough to snap you out of the blues. Even if it’s sitting in bed with a hot chocolate at the end of the day and being grateful you didn’t burn your tongue on it (just me?), jotting down in a notepad the good things in your life is grounding and builds a positive state of mind.
My mum taught me that at times of real stress, sipping a hot drink is distracting and calming. She is bang on and this is one of my ultimate faves. It also completely justifies stocking up on Teapigs.
Writing. It. Down. It’s not for everyone but materialising worries makes me rationalise them, break them down, see them for what they are. Which is mostly my imagination. Which one should reserve for Antonio Banderas fantasies and nothing else.
Being happy about the little things in your life. It lifts your mood, your perspective, your values. Also finding things you are happy with about yourself. I’m guilty of placing more value on Tupperware than my own brain and I’m working on being happier with who I am, even if that means accepting I may always gag on my toothbrush.
Be kind to yourself. We all have that little voice in the back of our heads, more poisonous than the primary school bully who stole your gel pens. Time to be a bit nicer to ourselves. Having anxiety does not make you weak or stupid. It makes you brave, strong, unique. Remember you did good today going underground/having that blood test/doing that presentation. Time to toast yourself with some wine and wotsits.
Laughing is the best. I started listening to the My Dad Wrote A Porno podcast and it is the most hilarious remedy ever. Twenty eight minutes in and I nearly weed myself on the tube three times yesterday. Someone needs to tell Mary Poppins that an adult analysing his dad’s erotica is without a doubt the sugar of the twenty-first century.
Not gonna lie. Still haven’t quite got the hang of this because if I focus on the present I mostly see pigeons, chewing gum and recycling bins. However I do try and be mindful in the shower (when I’m not checking myself for all forms of cancer or pulling hair out the plughole). To train my brain to focus instead of wander. I’m including this as motivation more than anything. Perhaps motivation should have been my M word. Hm.
It’s okay to say no sometimes. Put yourself first. A lot of anxiety comes from the pressure of not letting anyone else down, worrying what people think, committing to too much, piling on the pressure. It’s okay to say no to drinks one night and just go home and order Dominoes. As long as you order extra garlic bread.
For me, realising I’m having a bit of a crazy anxious moment is the first step to sorting it out. So owning anxiety and then learning how to handle it makes you feel a whole lot better about progress. It’s very difficult to treat when you’re in denial but easy to get help if you recognise it, and definitely, definitely, not something to be ashamed of. Own it gal, wear it like Louboutins and it won’t trip you up. Unless you suck at heels. Then own it like Uggs.
Motivation. Creativity. Something to take pride in. That’s yours. Whether it’s colouring or couch to 5k, if you have something on the go it builds your confidence, helps you discover a new side of yourself, gets you out of your own head, introduces you to new people, and makes you happy. Writing this blog has become the best downtime activity I could have wished for with the exception of caramel nibbles and Twitter stalking.
I worry about irrational things, like having cancer, or constantly losing my phone/purse/mind. Treating this rationally helps to separate the logic from the fantasy, to conquer them. Useful questions: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” “How likely is that?” “What can you do to make you feel better?”
Make room for anxiety in your life. It’s probably not going anywhere anytime soon so just shift a bit of space around to accommodate it. The less unwelcome it feels the less intimidating is and the more manageable. Secondly find a room, somewhere, that makes you feel happy, comforted, and anxiety-free. Mine is my lounge. It’s full of candles (I’m so bloody middle-aged) and there are Nobbly Bobblies in the freezer RIGHT. THERE.
I’m a bit obsessed with nice smells at the moment. Aforementioned candles. Also linen spray. They are very comforting and oh my god I’ve turned into my grandma. Abort. Abort.
Treat yourself gang! The other night I rang my mum upset because I was worried and beating myself up for not feeling better after a doctors appointment and basically drowning in despair. Good old madre told me to go to sleep then wake up and treat myself to something the next day because, yes, I’d been putting up with a lot of shit, in my body and in my head, and I deserved a break. As a culture we probably don’t do this enough. It’s about working the hardest and competing to be the most exhausted or stressed. This is not cool. Living in London is lameeee sometimes. So’s being a girl/being 25/paying rent. Time for some rewards just because. Who’s with me?
I was going to say underwear as it sounds all sassy and life-changey but when I’m anxious I can forget to put underwear on so it’s not really a thing for me. My U-turn is recognising something that’s making you miserable and instead of just putting up with it, side-stepping the hell away and changing your life for the better. I ran away from real life this time last year and flew to Australia and it was the best decision I could have made.
Now don’t get me wrong – I love a routine. But I also get alllll the fear if my life starts to feel too mundane. So mix it up a little so you don’t feel trapped. That could be switching up your packed lunch or doing stand up comedy. Either way it’s exciting, it’s plucky, and at the very least people around you will get crudite envy.
It’s good for everything. It should be on every list. There is nothing better beginning with W except maybe ‘wishes that come true’ and ‘wizards’ but neither of those exist in our world. So water, water, water.
Pushing yourself towards the healthy kind of adrenaline rather than the adrenaline that wakes you up in the morning with all the fear. It’s realising you can do anything if you put your mind to it. For me this was climbing a mountain and riding a rollercoaster with a loop in the same week. Neither of which I thought I could do. Literally rock and roll. But it could be smaller – like jumping into a swimming pool, dancing in the rain or trying olives.
You got this. Be proud of who you are. Anxiety doesn’t define you and won’t stop you doing anything. It’s just finding the path that’s right for you to do it your way.
Total cheat but Z is for sleep. Sleep’s a tricky one as sometimes stress and anxiety = hello insomnia. But I still live by the rule that everything feels better in the morning (except pizza digestion). Starting a new day afresh is the way.
Thanks for reading mes amies xxx xxx