Anxiety has been described to me as ‘a blessing in disguise’. In the midst of my anxiety, I immediately disregarded this statement and couldn’t understand why someone would describe this condition like this to me. You feel out of tune with your body, you can’t think straight and your personality has somewhat changed. You are irritated with everything that goes on around you and you can’t focus at work. Sound familiar? Read on.
Everyone is different
Although some of us have higher tendencies to become anxious and depressed than others. This could be down to environmental, lifestyle and genetic factors, which we all experience a different mixture of in our individual lives. No one is the same and comparing how anxious you get to someone else is not helpful but a bad ‘thinking pattern’. Each human has a different body, inside and out, so we can’t all react the same to what we face in life. Have some compassion for yourself and realise that it’s ok to feel this way. It is a sign that some ‘inner work’ needs to be done. This is the blessing. Once you have done the work on the inside, you’ll feel more at peace with yourself and what is going on around you.
We now live in a society where many of us have stressful and demanding jobs. Gone are the days where it was easier to ‘leave work at work’ and be able to switch off from ‘work mode’. Many of us take work home with us, which is supported by smartphones, iPads, laptops and the fact that you can literally connect to the internet wherever you go. According to Belle (2015), ‘60% of British adults believe their life is more stressful today than it was 5 years ago’. Stress leads to anxiety, so limiting this in the first instance by reducing your work and releasing yourself from ‘work mode’ will help you be able to manage your anxiety level easier. I kept my phone out of my bedroom and limited the time I was on my computer when I got in from work and at the weekends, which helped me switch off when I went to bed. Little things like this can make a huge difference.
Furthermore, I noticed that whenever I became stressed about anything, whether it be not paying a phone bill on time or having to present in front of a few people, I became extremely anxious and couldn’t think about anything else other than that particular thing until it was over. I couldn’t move on until it was done, however, through rationalising my thoughts and doing a few CBT techniques, this became easier to deal with in the present moment.
I’m not qualified in mental health, but I do have a few tips that helped me. Taking deep breaths and closing your eyes for 5 minutes, although this may seem hard to do when you are in the midst of high anxiety, will help slowdown your heart rate. When you are doing this try and think about the small things that make you happy in life. Just the simple things, such as how your skin feels when you step into a warm bubbly bath, or the feeling of when you have a hot drink on a cold winter’s day. Don’t over stretch your mind but think about small achievable things that you can easily enjoy. Anxiety and stress are signs to your body that you need to focus on the inner you, so taking this time for yourself is essential for your mental health.
After experiencing a few of these episodes, I realised that I needed help. There are a few helplines that you can call that offers reassurance and advice if you are going through high anxiety or a panic attack. These include:
I really do urge anyone who is going through anxiety to seek help. Whether it be confiding in a friend, going to a GP or counsellor or calling up one of the helplines. This is the first step to recovery.