It’s been well over a year since my diagnosis of generalised anxiety disorder. Since then, with the help of a course of CBT, I’ve been putting certain techniques into practice which help me daily.
I imagine, to a certain extent, that my anxiety will always be there in the background, rumbling away. But by doing some of these things noted below, I’m able to stop it from bubbling over. And I’m doing OK.
So, here it goes…
I will say this until I’m blue in the face but being outside, in nature, makes me feel the calmest I ever have. While I’ve been freelance I’ve been enjoying my 7am wander by the river. I encourage myself to take everything in. I watch the swans as they glide effortlessly through the water. I say good morning to the dog walkers. I sit and eat my morning apple whilst listening to the weir changing the flow of the water. It sets me up for the day. It lifts my mood. It shakes any negative feelings.
I Talk About My Feelings
I’m still figuring this one out as for years I’ve managed to bottle up my feelings, preferring to explode in emotion when it all got a bit overwhelming. These days, I’m acknowledging how I feel and telling someone. Talking it through, it turns out, does help! As does having a trusted support network who know the right things to say.
Journaling the High and Low from Each Day
This has fast become one of the essential tools that help switch my mind off before bed. I’ve been journalling for two and a half years now, but during CBT, my therapist encouraged me to note both my high from that day and my low. By acknowledging it, I’m accepting that both good and bad things can happen and that that’s not only normal but ok. I love being able to look back at how far I’ve come.
Nip Those Worries in the Bud
As soon as I feel a worrying thought pop into my mind, I ask myself a question. Is this something I can deal with now? If it’s a problem which can be quickly resolved, I action it. If it’s a niggle, something that I need to come back to, I postpone it. I tell myself I will come back to it later. Most of the time, when I allow myself to check in with these postponed worries, I’ve forgotten what most of them are, proving that they were in no way important at all.
Give Lils a Big Snuggle
I’ve written before about why Lils, my Dwarf Lop bun, is good for my anxiety. Focussing my attention on her, her needs, her love of a good tickle behind her fluffy cheeks, distracts me from anything else. Just two minutes of sitting on the floor next to her, rhythmically stroking her cute little nose, sends me into a relaxed state. She’s an instant mood lifter. And I can definitely rent out her services if you’re interested.
Plan Time for Rest
A side-effect of both anxiety and IBS is fatigue, something I experience regularly. To combat it, I make sure I don’t stuff my calendar full of invites because I know I’ll end up letting someone down by cancelling. Instead, I schedule in evenings where I can do nothing but sit on the sofa and consume countless episodes of Sex and the City. I’m not 18 and can no longer burn the candle at both ends. I am a grandma in a 32-year old’s body.
Bringing the Garden Inside
This one ties into my love of being outside. Now that our garden resembles an oasis of colour, I love nothing more than taking cuttings from our array of roses, hydrangea bushes, dahlias, lavender and even the rosemary and arranging them in small vases around the house. Seeing our hard work, in full bloom, scattered everywhere puts a big grin on my face.
Part of my bedtime routine is a 10-minute meditation session while laying down with my eye mask on. I focus on breathing, deep and slow breaths while clearing my mind of all thoughts. I check in with myself, noting how I’m feeling. And usually, halfway through, I’ve zonked off.
My main takeaway really is that I go easy on myself.
NOTE: The Laurel Ring I’m wearing is gifted from Little Brave. Little Brave creator, Lucy, has anxiety herself which is helped by her love of nature and finding a way, through jewellery, that she could bring that inside. 10% of all profits are donated to the mental health charity, Mind.