by Shameem Allen
I often say that I was born with anxiety. There isn’t a time I can remember where I didn’t feel anxious. My first severe episode happened when I was just 5. I started school that year and for the first two weeks, I was violently sick outside the classroom every single day. My mum would ask me each morning, ‘you’re not going to be sick today?’ and I would shake my head feverishly only for the same thing to happen. I can see now, it was anxiety. Skip 30 years and many more bouts of terrible anxiety later I have learned some essential techniques to help me cope and more importantly live with generalised anxiety disorder. Here are my five simple steps to help you with anxiety daily.
I say this as a self-confessed exercise-phobic BUT exercise helps. It doesn’t have to be much either. I find a short 15-minute yoga session or 10-minute walk with the dog to be helpful. The bonus of some fresh air helps to unclog your mind from overthinking.
I learned this technique recently and it’s so useful and easy. When I find myself overcome with anxiety, I shift my attention and focus on something specific. For example, I might count all the blue things in the room, list five things I can smell or 3 things I can hear. Either way, I give my brain a specific task to focus on and this usually stops the anxiety overwhelm taking hold.
Taking Time Out
I know with everyday pressures it can be hard to take time for yourself. There’s work to do, kids to feed and a mountain of laundry. Taking time for yourself can easily be pushed to the bottom of the list but it shouldn’t. When I take some time to myself to do something I love I can literally feel my shoulders relax and some of the tension ease. I like to read, getting lost in a book is anxiety-reducing for me. Or you could try meditation, a bubble bath or playing with your dog. Do whatever you love doing. Schedule ‘time out time’ into every day.
Setting Daily Goals
Anxiety has the awful ability to overwhelm. I find setting just 3 simple goals for the day helps. They give your day a focus and a sense of achievement when they are complete. It also allows you to get things done without overcommitting yourself. Some days my goals are: Get the laundry done, reply to emails and prep dinner. Your goals can be whatever you need them to be on the day.
Breathing calms our bodies stress response. It will slow a pounding heart and quietens our mind. I have struggled with this one over the years I won’t lie and yet making it a part of your daily routine is essential. There are techniques you can follow if you wish, Anxiety UK has a helpful guide https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/products/free-resources/breathing-and-relaxation-guide/. Or to keep it simple do what I do. I try to practice deep breathing multiple times a day: while the kettle boils or I’m waiting for the bus. That way it becomes a habit, and you can put it straight into action when anxiety strikes.
My name is Shameem and I’m a freelance writer. Having always suffered from anxiety, I’m passionate about helping others to feel better and live less anxious lives. Writing for Anxiety UK allows me to share what I have learned over therapy and extensive research in the hope I can help someone like me.
Anxiety UK has a wealth of resources, check out their Calm Club for real relief and relaxation to help clear your mind from any day-to-day stress and anxiety. https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/get-help/calm-club-and-anxiety-webinars
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