Both mental health and wellbeing have become very prominent topics over recent years and these conversations should not be, by any means, undermined or overlooked. We have all experienced the feeling of being anxious at some point in our lives, whether for an exam or job interview, but anxiety is an illness that is crippling for many.
Anxiety, whether it be something that you have suffered with for a lifetime, over the past few years, months or even weeks, we all know it can distract us from some of our most treasured times. I am by no means an expert on the topic, just someone that has suffered from her own battle with the illness to quite a severe degree. For Mental Health Awareness Month, I want to share my own ways I find sanctimony in the most turbulent moods, in hope that it might just help someone else do the same.
For the days when the familiar stomach twists and turns take a turbulent spin, I have found throwing yourself into something you enjoy, have a passion for or simply find comfort in is a great first step. Anxiety can make us feel incredibly unproductive and drive us to think only of what is creating this tension inside, but by forcing ourselves to break out of the chain of thought and become immersed into something different, something that brings out a temporary change of thought can really help. For me, throwing myself into a quick workout can be a real saviour when anxiety levels are beginning to climb up. Moving into a space where you have nothing other to think about aside from that workout, how your body is physically moving and achieving is an escape from the invisible battles you are fighting on the inside.
Exercise is just one of many options out there though, it completely depends on what brings you that little sense of escape in your life. Whether it be running a hot bubble bath and pruning in the steam for a good couple of hours with a good book or getting out your sketchbook and getting into a new drawing or even colouring by numbers. Whatever it may be, find something that can be your go–to activity on those days where it all feels too much and whether it just be for 1 hour, 30 minutes or even 10 minutes, that little bit of distraction will be a source of therapy.
Although not a one–size fits all approach, which to clarify, none of the tips in this article seek to be, there are some more recognised solutions to bring a sense of calm to those suffering with anxiety. Included within this category, is music. Again, music is very personal to each individual and so the genre, the song, the artist that may bring you that sense of calm or relief will be so dependent on you. But it is key to note that for some, music can be an instant remedy.
Music has an innate quality that can in a matter of seconds, completely change the atmosphere of a room, it can bring a new dynamic to a gathering, and in some cases, completely define and resonate a memory or a period in someone’s life. From my own experience, listening to certain songs can bring an incredible sense of calm and for that short duration, can make you forget about the anxiety growing rife.
Seeking help from family and friends
This is probably the most important solution of all. Friends and family, teachers or colleagues, whoever it may be that you have a connection with will make a difference. For me, my mum is the only person that can bring calm to those moments of panic and bring me back down to earth when it begins to takeover. The first time opening up about the feelings I was going through was tricky as most of us will know, opening up about our emotions is never an easy thing. But the moment I did, I found immense relief as well as someone that could be there to come back to when those anxious feelings come crawling back.
It may seem absolutely terrifying and the fear is always there in that the person we choose to share our feelings with will not understand or worse, dismiss them. But even then, there will be someone out there who really does understand, and you will most certainly not be the only one going through it. If there isn’t anyone immediately close to you who you feel is the right person to open up to, there are countless ways to get in touch with others who will be. Sharing and connecting is the therapy we all sometimes need.
Anxiety affects us all (some more than others), but the emotion can be rife within all of us. One of the most important ideas that I have come to find helpful is to know that it is okay for us to experience this emotion. Riding out the emotion in its milder forms can be a much more productive method of coping than trying to battle it. Accept the emotion and be kind to yourself whilst going through it. Find an outlet that will uplift you and bring you some relief in letting other emotions in too, whether that be happiness, passion, a sense of determination and focus, the list goes on.
And always remember, there is always someone out there who will listen.
So, make sure you keep talking, and keep listening too.