DISCLAIMER: I am sharing these tips from an anecdotal standpoint. I am not a doctor or professional when it comes to mental health so if you feel you need to please do seek professional help.
Having personal struggled with anxiety in the past, I wanted to share some of my top tips and tools that help me manage my anxiety.
For me meditation has honestly been life changing. I know this sounds cliche but honestly creating a regular meditation practice helped me see my anxiety from a different perspective and view it with more kindness and compassion.
2. Getting outdoors:
It has been scientifically shown that special patterns only found in nature, called fractal patterns, actually lower our cortisol levels (stress hormone) making you feel more relaxed and less anxious. So if you can, get outside in some green space.
Stretching, yoga, walking, swimming, dancing, whatever makes you feel good. Moving your body means moving your energy (and emotions, like anxiety, are energy in motion) so by doing so you are allowing that anxious energy to be released. It will also release endorphins and create serotonin which will make you feel a little more positive.
4. Netflix/Reading a book:
Essentially escapism. Although I believe it is important to hold space for your feelings and honour them, I also think it's sometimes really nice to just have a break from them. For me that looks like getting lost in a book or binge watching my favourite Netflix series (Friends is a personal fave).
Sounds silly but I'm talking about mindful breathing. Being really conscious of your breath and doing exercises to slow it down rather than allowing anxiety to take over and create hyperventilating shallow breaths. Try this: inhale for 3 counts and exhale for 6 counts.
6. Focusing on my senses:
I like to do this exercise when I'm out for a walk but you can do it anytime. If you are starting to feel anxious then shift your attention to your 5 senses. Pick one thing you can see, then hear, then smell, then taste, then touch. This brings you back to the present moment instead of letting your mind wander to the possible future causing the anxiety.
Make a feel good playlist that just lights you up and gets you going. When I'm feeling anxious or low I'll blast my favourite tunes and jump around my living room to them (legit look like a crazy person but it makes me feel better!)
8. Prioritise self-care:
Using self-care as a preventative method is something I swear by. Don't wait until you are seconds away from a panic attack to 'do some self-care'. Make it a daily habit. It could be journaling or meditating, therapy or clearing through your social media feed and getting rid of people that make you anxious. Whatever your version of self-care is, do that. And do it daily. Not just as an emergency protocol, because it's too late then. Prioritise your self-care practice even if that means getting up a little earlier or saying no to invites (that lets be honest you probably don't want to do anyway!). By prioritising your self-care you are prioritising yourself.
9. Know your boundaries:
Boundaries are so important when it comes to managing your anxiety. For example, as I was saying in the point above, don't say yes to an invite from your friend if it means you will be putting yourself in a position where you know you are going to feel more anxious. Let your friends know that right now, in this season of your life, you're just not up for that kind of thing. If certain people make you feel anxious or maybe specific topics of conversation make you uneasy then make it know. State your boundaries and actually honour them to protect yourself and your energy. When you implement boundaries people that care about you will totally understand. And the people that don't understand or get funny about it are usually the ones that benefit from you not having any boundaries in the first place!
For me getting everything in my brain out onto paper is so cathartic and therapeutic. It makes it all seem more manageable and I'm able to process it better. So next time your feeling anxious, try doing something I like to call a brain dump. Literally dump every little thing that is going on in your brain onto paper. Whether it's your to do list, worries you have, things to remember etc etc. Write it all down. I promise you'll feel a sense of relief once it's all down on paper in front of you.
I hope these tips help you in some way and if you have any you'd like to add please do let me know! You can never have too many tools to manage your mental health.