It’s normal to experience feelings of anxiety from time to time, but what about if it affects your day-to-day life? Because anxiety is a normal human experience, it can be difficult to recognise when it has become a problem.
“It’s common to feel tense, nervous and perhaps fearful at the thought of a stressful event or decision you’re facing – especially if it could have a big impact on your life,” says Stephen Buckley, head of information at mental charity charity Mind. “But if your feelings of anxiety are very strong, or last for a long time, it can be overwhelming.”
Anxiety can cause physical symptoms, such as nausea, shaking or sweating, problems sleeping and panic attacks, while psychological signs include feeling tense, nervous and on edge, a persistent sense of dread and thinking the worst might happen, or irrational thoughts.
“If you experience anxiety, it can help to take time for yourself to practise some self-care techniques,” says Stephen.
So, here are some simple things you can do for yourself to help make life a little easier if you’re an anxious person…
1. Have a bath
Remember what it feels like to stew in a big, warm bowl of your own filth? No? Then you, my friend, deserve a bath. Get the bubbles out, open a ice-cold can of beer (if you’re into that), then relax.
2. Listen to a podcast
If you find it difficult to concentrate on reading a book when you’re anxious, you might want to try listening to a podcast, to take your mind off your worries for a while.
Meditation can be a scary word, but to meditate simply means to focus your mind for a period of time. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials you can sit through for inspiration.
“There are various therapeutic techniques and therapies you can safely practise on your own like relaxation, meditation or mindfulness. It’s really easy to rush through life on auto-pilot, not really taking in our surroundings, and these techniques can help us be more aware of the present moment,” says Stephen. “This can mean both outside, in the world around you, and inside, in your feelings and thoughts. Practising mindfulness can help you become more aware of your own moods and reactions.”
4. Get some exercise
Get some fresh air, have a run or dance wildly around your room. “Exercise is good for your mind as well as your body. Doing regular exercise can be very effective in lifting your mood and helping you sleep better, giving you more energy and it’s also proven to be as effective as antidepressants in treating mild to moderate depression,” says Stephen.
“It doesn’t have to be very strenuous or sporty to be effective – to start with, you could try gentle exercise like going for a short walk, yoga or swimming. The important thing is to pick something you enjoy doing, so you’re more likely to stick with it.”
5. Do your hair fancy
Everyone feels good after they’ve done their hair, don’t they? Even if you have nowhere to go, pay for a blow-dry or do it yourself at home, to make yourself feel like a million dollars.
6. Binge watch a series
Sometimes you just need some alone time with your bed and Netflix. There’s no shame in that.
7. Eat your favourite food
Stop worrying for a moment about how many calories were in your dinner and buy that cheesecake you’ve been craving – you deserve it.
8. Call someone you love
Even just listening to the sound of a loved-one’s voice can be calming when you’re feeling most anxious. Call someone who you know will be understanding and patient.
9. Cuddle a pet
If you don’t have one, borrow the neighbour’s.
10. Make a list, then half it
Write down all the things you are worried about, and then go through the list and systematically cross out all the points that aren’t worth worrying about at all. It will be a weight off your shoulders.
11. Do something creative
Write, draw, read or scribble on some colouring-in books. Concentrate on something creative and enjoy the results. Shifting your focus can help if you’re feeling anxious.
“Another way to distract yourself from the anxiety you are feeling is by looking at something like a flower, a picture or something that you find interesting or comforting,” Stephen suggests. “Really notice the details, the colours and any smells or sounds.”
For support and tips about speaking to a medical professional about your anxiety visit Mind.