The Spring of 2015 was a difficult one for me. It was one of those times in life where dark, dull, dreary clouds followed me around everywhere I went. One bad thing after another happened; like a domino effect. I felt anxious. I felt lost. I felt trapped. I felt low. I eventually visited my doctor when things deteriorated and my anxiety began to take over. At this point I had days where my mam had to drag me out of bed; days where I forgot to eat, I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t get on a bus into the city, I couldn’t live my life the way I wanted to because of anxiety. The dark clouds were taking over, the anxiety was taking over. I never thought I’d be able to control it. I never thought I’d be able to feel happy or safe or positive again. I thought I’d be trapped in this uneasy, terrified, dark state.
One year later and the dark clouds are gone, the constant anxious feelings are gone, the panic attacks are at bay and I’m okay. There are so many things that helped me defeat my anxiety and hopefully they can help you too. So without further ado here are my best tips for kicking anxiety’s ass.
Who’d have thought reading a tattered copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby would keep my anxious thoughts away. Reading is one of the main things that has helped me beat my anxiety. Picking up a book and delving into a new world, meeting new characters and learning about their life is a great way to push the anxiety away. I’ve found that reading relieves me of any worries, it helps calm you down and is a perfect way to escape. Take a trip to your local book shop or to the college library and pick up any book that tickles your fancy; whether it’s a classic such as Wuthering Heights or a young adult novel such as The Fault In Our Stars.
If you’re a fellow lazy oaf like myself you’ll have no interest in exercise. I went to the gym once in my entire life where I spent twenty minutes on the treadmill and then walked around to the local chipper for a post workout feast- that’s how you get abs, right? However, I’ve found that exercise is the perfect way to battle anxiety. Anything from a stroll around the block to a jog by the sea in Dun Laoghaire will clear your mind and keep the symptoms away. If you don’t feel comfortable with going outside there are tonnes of other options out there; dancing around your kitchen to Taylor Swift counts as exercise so turn up the radio, take Taylor’s advice and Shake It Off!
Do you remember the days in secondary school when the class had to take part in meditation sessions for religion class? Everyone would sit around nervously giggling and sneakily opening their eyes to see if their pals were actually taking part- well those meditation sessions are so helpful. Take 5 or 10 minutes of your day to meditate. Find a quiet spot, do some breathing exercises and follow a short meditation guide to relax you.I’d highly recommend the Calm app for starting off. Meditation will push the anxiety away and settle your mind.
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received in life is to listen to the music you liked when you were fourteen years old if you’re feeling anxious or just bad in general. By listening to tunes from your early teenage years your mind is taken back to more simpler and happier times. A wave of nostalgia washes away the anxiety. If you’re a 90’s kid like myself you may stick on some S Club 7 or McFly. Stick on the music from the days when your biggest worry was whether or not the local shop would have enough chicken fillet rolls left by the time you got there on your lunch break.
Us Irish folk are known for loving a good old chin-wag over a cup of tea. We’re friendly, polite and extremely chatty people. One of the biggest ways to relieve anxiety is by talking. There are tonnes of people out there that will happily lend an ear and help you out. You can talk to anyone whether it’s your mam, an old school friend, your old English teacher, the school guidance counsellor or your doctor. I remember speaking to my English Literature and Theatre Studies tutor about how I was feeling last year and the weight that lifted off my shoulders was immense. Like they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Embrace self love
This is a tricky one. We’re a nation that struggle with accepting compliments, “This dress? Ah sure it’s only out of Penneys” is a phrase that we use on a daily basis. However, learning to fill your mind with positive and uplifting thoughts about yourself and about your life is one of the best ways to beat anxious thoughts. Wake up in the morning and tell yourself that “today will be a good day.” When you see your reflection in mirror compliment yourself and pick out your favourite parts of yourself; whether it’s the freckle on your cheek or your pearly white teeth. Make a list of things you like about yourself or special achievements to boost your mood and to push out the uneasy feelings.
Most importantly, remind yourself everyday that this is not the end, anxiety can be defeated and that this too shall pass.