Anxiety Tips

As much as I hated going to therapy, there is no denying that it did help my anxiety a bit, and so I thought I'd share a few tips that have helped me along, and ones that I still use.

 When I felt like I could leave the house, I was able to without panicking as much. I made myself plans and lists before I went out, saying exactly the things I needed to do and where I would have to be so that I could cross each one off as I went and tell myself that I didn't have much left to do. Writing down a reasonable and manageable list really helped me grow a little more confidence, because I was actually beginning to leave the house again.

Something else that I've found useful and still find useful when I'm in a big crowd, it to focus my mind on counting how many footsteps I take. It sounds like such a silly thing, but honestly it really does focus your mind onto thinking about something completely different and then before you've realised it you're through the big crowd.

I also like to always make sure that I've made an 'escape plan' in my mind about how I could get out of somewhere if I needed to. I think this is what helped me the most, because just knowing that I could leave and escape from a situation easily meant that I was able to deal with the situation much better and I was finding that I wasn't panicking in situations where I normally would have done.

Having said that, this doesn't work for places that you can't escape from, like airports. Before flying home from Dubrovnik, waiting in the airport, I found myself getting panicked because there were so many people and we were all waiting in such huge queues that I couldn't even count footsteps. I tried to work out a 'route' of how I could get out, to try to make me think of something else and take my mind away when I realised that I couldn't just leave because otherwise I'd miss my flight. I have to admit that I wasn't able to find anything that could stop me from panicking, but I've come to realise that's okay. Just because you're trying to stop yourself from having quite so many panic attacks doesn't mean that you're expected to be able to stop them all the time. Sometimes you just can't help it, but that's not a bad thing - it doesn't mean that you're mean, it's just showing you that it is possible to stop yourself from getting in a  panic but sometimes there's nothing that can be done.

I feel like coming to terms with my anxiety is what's helped me the most. I didn't do this through a therapist, it was actually my mum who helped me with this, but it really helped. I just accepted the fact that I've got anxiety and that sometimes things are going to be too tough for me to cope with, but that's okay because I can always get away if I need to and that I need to recognise what it is about certain situations that make me anxious so I can try to avoid similar situations as much as possible. Obviously, I can't always do this for things like going to the doctors or the dentist, but things like shopping centres or ordering food in restaurants is manageable to think about when you're in a calm place.

Anxiety doesn't define who we are, and anxiety doesn't control our lives. We are human beings and we can 'stand up' to our mental illnesses and show them that we are more than capable of being happy.

Em x

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