Thursday, 13 October 2016

Let's Talk Anxiety: How I 'Cope'

So before I start, you may be wondering why the word cope is in quotation marks. The main reason is because I use the word cope very, very loosely. Mostly due to the fact that I still don't think I am at the stage where I am fully coping with my anxiety, more just learning how to manage it. I still have and probably always will have really bad days, it's just more recently they have been a lot more frequent and my attacks have been worse. 

Just as a side note: I'm really sorry if you don't want to read a long, rambling post this morning, but I thought it was about time I wrote about this, so please bare with me if this post is all over the place. It's not something I'm going to proof read properly, or make 'perfect'. I just need to get it written, whatever the outcome and I know that if I spend time, re-reading this afterwards and making sure it's all ok, I will probably not post it because I will start doubting myself and panicking, so yeah, I'm just going to go for it. 

At the beginning of this year, I posted my first 'Let's Talk Anxiety' post, which was basically just me opening up about the way it affects me and how it all 'began' as such. Since then, I have received so much support off people, which I honestly could never have asked for, so thank you. The fact that I know that there are people out there that care, is one of the main reasons why I am able to manage my anxiety better now.

Although my anxiety has flared up pretty bad over the past few months (hence why my activity on here hasn't been great), It's meant that I have found a few ways that help calm me down. I never have been on any sort of medication for my anxiety and quite frankly, as of right now, I don't intend to. I know everyone is different and medication works for some people, but I personally, do not want to have to rely on medication as I feel as though once I start, I may not be able to cope without it and that is certainly not something I want to happen. 

Instead, I want to be able to find natural ways to cope with my anxiety and there are a few ways I have discovered that really have helped. 

Meditation has always been something that I have been aware of but never really known much about and/or put into practice. I have meditated a few times but never actually taken it seriously, done it regularly, or tried using it as a calming method. Recently however, I have started to learn more about meditation as a whole and about different techniques that I can use and try out to see which, if any, help me. I can honestly say that it has definitely been a help for me. I don't do it all the time but I find that now and again it can really have a positive effect. 

Health and fitness is a huge part of my life and I've found that it has really helped with my anxiety. Going for a walk, or for a run, or to the gym, with my headphones in, listening to my favourite music definitely helps calm me down if I am feeling panicky. It allows me to just switch off and enjoy what I love, rather than worrying. 

Watching the sunset
I don't know why but there is something about watching the sun set that just instantly calms me and helps me feel so relaxed. I have loved watching the sunset for as long as I can remember. It's crazy how something so simple that can make you feel so content. The world really is a beautiful place sometimes. 

I've always been a huge lover of books since a young age and at any opportunity I have, I whack open the latest book that I am reading. Reading a book is a great way to just switch off from life for a bit and indulge yourself into another one (almost, or at least that's how books make me feel anyway). It's a great calming method to use if I am feeling anxious before going to bed, as I can read until I feel tired enough to fall asleep and usually stops me from being kept awake all night feeling anxious.

This is what I am most definitely worst at, but I am getting better at it. I find it so hard to talk about my mental illness because there are always those people that say that you are attention seeking if you talk about it but making yourself worse if you keep it locked away, which is so contradicting. I guess when you put parts of your life on the internet, this is what you have to deal with and try to ignore, but having anxiety really doesn't allow you to, the majority of times. I literally never used to talk about it, to the point where I would overthink everything and work myself up to the point where I literally couldn't leave the house because I couldn't deal with having to face people. But over the last few months, especially since I posted my Opening Up post, I have been finding it easier (still incredibly hard, but there's definite progess) to talk to people and it has been like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. But, I still have a long way to go with this. I'm working on it!

All in all, I feel like I have come a long way since I first starting struggling with anxiety and panic attacks, especially this year, I have seen a huge difference. It's still a battle but I feel like I am getting stronger, slowly but surely. 

If you suffer from anxiety also, I would love to hear if this post helped in anyway and would love to try and help you. I find helping others, helps me too. Talking to people who understand you and can actually empathise with you is so beneficial, so if you ever need to talk, I am here. 

Just remember...

Don't let your mental illness define you, don't let your struggle become your identity. Talk openly, it's ok to not be ok. 

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