Mental Health Awareness Week – some things I’ve found that have helped me with anxiety…

This week, 18 – 24 May is Mental Health Awareness Week on the theme of kindness.  Quite apt during this continuing lockdown period where a lot of us are struggling in one way or another don’t you think?  

Whilst I wouldn’t say I suffer with anxiety, I’m definitely an anxious person.  In my teenage and early adult years I suffered with Emetophobia, which caused me a lot of anxiety and whilst I don’t think I’ll ever be completely over this phobia I’ve certainly learned how to deal with it better over the years. I’ve written a full blog post on this which you can read here if you want to. I cannot believe how many people messaged me after I posted this saying that they felt the same, it took me so long to get the courage to write that post and I’m so glad I did, it just goes to show that you might think you’re the only one who feels someway but you pretty much definitely won’t be.

Anyway, during this period of time and in the years following my worst time with it, I learned a few different coping mechanisms and things that I know now will help me to feel better and I thought I’d share them here just incase they’re helpful to you too.  I think it’s important to note that these are things that have helped me personally – they may not work for everyone but hopefully even one or two of them might.

Yoga / in fact any sort of exercise…

Yoga is something I’ve got into in more recent years.  Focussing on your body and regulating your breathing does wonders for your mind.  I carry a lot of tension in my back when I feel anxious and if I’m feeling panicky I can sometimes feel shaky which in turn gives me awful back ache.  I’m beginning to realise now that if I can feel an anxiety session coming on a quick half hour of Yoga with Adriene will usually sort me out if I catch it early enough.  While I was running I found this had a similar effect on my mental well being but I haven’t run for ages so we won’t go there 😉

Do something with your hands

I cannot talk enough about how knitting helped me during the worst time of my phobia.  It was something therapeutic that I could do with my hands which was mindful enough to calm my anxious mind.  It also gave me something to look forward to and plan for – thinking about which project I’ll make next and what wool I can buy. I do this with fabric now 😉  Some of the benefits recorded with knitting have also been lowered blood pressure and distraction.  It can also be very social, there’s a whole world of knitting Instagrammers out there you know! I know lots of people who would say the same about crochet and gardening too.

Prayer & meditation   

I’m a Christian so I’ll always pray through my worries, sometimes sitting alone for a while listening to a talk or meditation and reading my Bible will be enough to remind me that God is in control and give my worries over to him. However, I’m only human and a bit of a control freak so it’s worth mentioning that sometimes I find this difficult too.

Getting Outside

When you’re gripped with worry and on the verge of panic going out for a walk can be the last thing you feel like doing but when I’m feeling anxious getting outside, usually with the dog now, does me the world of good. Something about the calm and quiet of being in nature helping to calm my mind I guess.

Counting backwards from 100

Sounds madness but I’ve been known on a few occasions during lockdown to have woken up in a state and been calmed back to sleep by doing this over and over accompanied by some deep breathing.

Write it down

Another thing I’ve only recently got into is journaling, I was sceptical at first but actually getting your feelings down on paper does actually help – who knew!  

Get someone who understands to rationalise with you

In my teenage years it was my parents and a couple of close friends, now it’s my husband.  Talking over your anxieties with someone who cares about you, even if they feel silly to you, will always help.

Be kind to yourself

In the midst of my worst struggle with my phobia mental health wasn’t talked about like it is now.  I felt like there was something wrong with me, that I was strange or weak.  If you’re going through a tough time please know that you aren’t alone. 

When I was at my worst with this there were very few people who actually knew what I was going through, I got very good at hiding it and knowing how to avoid situations I couldn’t cope with without looking too weird.  What I mean by saying this is that you never know what someone else is going through even though on the outside they might look fine!

Always be kind and remember…

I hope some of those tips may have been helpful.  I’m always happy to chat if you are suffering from a similar phobia or if you just want to chat in general. 

Take care, stay safe and as always thank you for reading!!

Sally xx