Before you start reading, I just wanted you to know that I’m not a qualified counsellor, but this month is mental health awareness month and it’s important that we address it. Mental health affects more people than you can even imagine and it’s something that has affected me. Having dealt with anxiety issues for four years now, I thought I’d share some coping strategies that helped me then and that help me now in the hope that some of them might work for others too. If I can help just one person suffering from anxiety, then it’s worth it.
I still have this on my wall now and I even made one for my friend’s 18th. Sometimes, the days get dark and you can’t do anything but sit and think about what’s making you worried. Your body feels agitated yet all you want to do is relax. When this feeling crept up on me, I decided using my hands to make something might be a good distraction. I got a frame from Ikea and a piece of cardboard to fit in the frame and backed it with pretty floral fabric. I then trolled through all my Facebook pictures and printed a bunch of them off and made a collage of all my best memories. Not only did it help me realise that I had so much support and love around me, but it also gave me a positive distraction from my mind. And it looks cute on my wall!
For many people, music is what saves them. They find comfort in lyrics and sounds. For me it’s country music, but it could be anything. So as another way of keeping yourself occupied, log onto your computer, find a font you love and start typing out some of your favourite lyrics. The ones that speak to you. Print them out, cut around them and blue tack them around the top of your bedroom walls. It’s always a positive thing to have words that mean something to you, and by putting them on your wall, you’ll have them there when you need them.
This is a coping mechanism that I only found recently. It really helps to relax your overactive mind and put you in a state of calmness. I’d avoid going to the gym yoga classes if you’re using it to help your anxiety as gym classes tend to focus more on the body, rather than the mind. After researching online I found classes near me, run by a lovely lady in a shed in her garden, which is beautiful and quiet. I always come out smiling, I just wish I’d known about how much it helps four years ago!
Ok, so probably not one for those of you who hate needles. But if you’re like me and needles don’t bother you then this could really help. I went for a few sessions, and while the first one felt really strange (I had a needle stuck in my head) the sessions after that nearly put me to sleep. It’s all to do with the pressure points in your body and your acupuncturist will discuss your situation with you and decide on the best pressure points to target for you. Like yoga, this is another good way to relax your entire body.
This is probably the most important one of them all. Open up. It’s scary, and it’s terrifying being honest about what you’re going through, but pick a few close friends and let them in. In my experience, they’ll listen to you over and over, no matter how silly you think you sound or how many times you’ve repeated yourself. Once you’ve let them in, start to think about whether you want to let someone who is qualified to help you in. The thought of telling a stranger your problems puts a lot of people off, but sometimes it’s actually better to talk to someone who doesn’t know you. The main thing to remember is that in order for them to help you, you have to be completely honest. You have to tell them everything no matter how horrible it is. You won’t get judged in any way and even though it’s hard, try to remember you’re not alone. It affects so many people and plucking up the courage to talk about it is a huge chunk of the battle.
If you, or someone you know suffers from anxiety then I hope you’ve found this useful. Please post any comments below and for further help regarding mental health, call your local GP or visit the Anxiety UK website.
Featured image from: lafrijola