3 Tips For Relieving Anxiety


 
My anxiety revolves around people and situations I feel I can't control or escape from. For example, I can't travel on public transport or sit in a hall filled with people. I can't go to parties where people are drinking alcohol. I can't sit in the cinema if there are people blocking the direct exit along my line of seats. And sometimes, I have days where I really can't even leave the house. 
 
I'm currently on a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy - a type of counselling that teaches you to re-train your thoughts. I'm making slow yet steady progress. But I'm aware that not everyone is able to get this kind of therapy, so I thought I'd share some of the ways that I personally help relieve my anxiety if I'm stuck in a situation that makes me panic.
 
{ 1 . Q u e s t i o n i t. }
This is one of the best ways that I challenge my anxiety. For example, when I'm on a bus I feel nervous in case I need to get off and I can't, because we're no where near a stop. Questioning this anxiety can be as easy as asking myself: 'Why do I need to get off, though?' After asking this question, I begin to think about the reasons that I need to get off. Normally, I come up short, because there isn't actually anything that I'm feeling threatened by, other than panicking about the fact that I might panic. Another example is if I'm in a take-away restaurant and I'm waiting for my order. Usually, take-aways aren't the biggest of places and there are almost always other people waiting besides me. This makes me panic as I feel like I'm surrounded by people, something that I find suffocating. Whilst sitting there nervously, I ask myself: 'Why are they making you nervous?' Because really, they're never paying me any attention at all. They just want to get their food and drive home so they can finish watching the TV programme they were mid-way through. If I think about it, really think about it, I know the only reason they're making me nervous is because I'm panicking about panicking in front of them. Once I realise that, I find it easier to control as I know what's making me nervous. See a theme here?
 
{ 2 . M i n d f u l n e s s . }
Mindfulness is a CBT technique that helps ground you during moments of anxiety. It's quite simple in theory, although I found it took a few attempts for me to work out the best way it worked for myself personally. Mindfulness is all about drawing your attention inwards, to your body. You have to focus on the way that your heart is beating and the way the air moves in and out of your lungs, the loudest sound you can hear and the quietest. My favourite technique is noticing sensations on my skin - if I can feel any hot or cold wind, if my clothes are comfortable or itchy, if my shoes are too tight. It's basically a distracting technique, but I find it very effective. I have used this a few times when on a bus - I simply sit quietly and try and focus on what sensations I can feel on my skin. I like this as I think it's something that no one else can notice you doing - you don't need to close your eyes or move to a quiet spot, you can literally do it anywhere you need to.
 
{ 3 . A c c e p t y o u r s e l f & y o u r a n x i e t y . }
You are the only person who knows what you can and can't handle. For instance, I know for an absolute fact that I can't go on any big fairground rides. But I do know that, if I am at the funfair, I enjoy playing mini golf and messing around in the arcades. I used to be seriously angry about the fact that I couldn't join in with everyone else's experiences with the rides, but now I'm okay with it. Because I can't handle being on a ride yet. Someday, maybe I will. But not yet. And now that I've accepted that, I find it a bit easier to consider the possibility of going on a ride. Hating your anxiety will feed it - it knows it's gaining on you. If you accept it and acknowledge it, I find that it gets a bit bored and hangs back. For example, I was terrified about my first day of college last year. I was even considering not even bothering to turn up. My anxiety was playing up massively, but I acknowledged it. Using my first point above, I was able to accept my anxiety and work out what I could and couldn't deal with at the time. Once I had worked that out, I found that I didn't panic as much because I'd already worked out what I could have panicked about. I hope that makes sense.
 
Other than these tips, I find that keeping an anxiety diary is really beneficial, as it helps you work out what you were feeling in that moment and what could have triggered you. Looking back on old entries might even reveal some kind of pattern, which you could take into account when helping yourself. For example, you may have noticed that sitting at the back of the bus makes you nervous as you feel like you're trapped. To relieve this anxiety, try sitting near the front next time. Continuing on from the Mindfulness, I also have an app on my phone (I have an iPhone 4S) that offers Mindfulness soundtracks. I think it's brilliant, as you can just stick in your headphones and listen to the instructions, which is sometimes easier than starting to be Mindful on your own. The App is free from the appstore and it's called Mindfulness Daily. The little icon is a blue cross on a white background.
 
Wow, this post was a million times longer than I thought it would be! Hopefully it's helpful to some of you, even if it touches one person then I'll be incredibly happy. If any of you want to ask me a question about my techniques or just want to have a bit of a chat, feel free to either tweet me (@laaurenpiper) or if you'd rather it was kept private then my email address is laurenpiperx@gmail.com. I'd honestly be more than happy to talk to anyone!
 

3 comments

  1. This was such a useful post and really carefully thought out-the tips are definitely stuff that i try and do too-especially the mindfulness one (i find it really helps!)
    Im glad your CBT is going well,
    katie x
    http://katie-louu.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Thank you! I find mindfulness really useful too, it's so relaxing aswell just before bedtime x

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