Obviously anxiety is a super intense and awful thing that everyone experiences and deals with differently. I would probably never ever tell someone how to deal with theirs, because I would never feel anxiety the way that they do! But I would easily share things I’d learned or picked up and tried that helped me feel a little more OK, just in case some of those little things worked for them, too.
I’m not a medical professional, and any advice I give should only be taken as advice from an unqualified girl with anxiety, and nothing more. There is fantastic professional help available if you need it, and you should definitely look into it if you haven’t before. It might seem daunting, but it is absolutely OK to need help and ask for it.
I’d just like to say that anxiety is a horrible thing, it can be crippling, limiting, and deeply unsettling, and some days you might not be able to do any of the things on this list, but that’s actually fine. Try to do one, or two, something easy, but remember there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and sometimes you can even shine it yourself. At the end of the day, just take care of you as much as you can, on that day!
1. love your skin
Ah, the classic face mask and chill! But this time, extend it out. Exfoliate, cleanse, mask, moisturize, tone. Give your skin as much love as possible because you deserve to be properly taken care of. Scrub the dry patches, lather yourself in lovely moisturizer and take the time to go through your basket of toiletries you haven’t gotten around to using quite yet.
I’m probably the worst when it comes to taking proper care of my skin, and I keep it to the barest of minimums, but sometimes taking the time to treat my skin properly and let myself know I deserve to feel good about it is a bit of a big deal.
2. tune out
I’m working especially long hours lately, and when I get home my head can feel awfully busy and noisy, and relaxing is hard. Anxiety doesn’t help a skerrick.
I love music, but sometimes I felt like my usual playlists and go-to tunes were just antagonising the difficult feelings I had throughout the day and my general mood, so on a friend’s suggestion, I started listening to classical music.
I teach piano part time, and I definitely have an appreciation for long-gone classical composers and familiar compositions, but this wasn’t really working for me either. That’s when I started listening to more modern composers, and found a few amazing playlists on Spotify that seemed to chill me out without having to feel exhausted by intense lyrics or baroque vibes.
The ClassicalX playlist is probably my favourite – it’s become a staple to be downloaded on all my devices. I also took it on my phone on my last long-haul flight between Hong Kong and Los Angeles, and it helped me get a little bit of sleep during what would normally be a stressful 15 hours in a confined space.
3. love your space
Take 25 minutes to carefully make your bed, throw all of the cushions on it, light all those candles you have, make a cup of tea and enjoy being in your own space. It amazes me how much my surroundings affect my mood and anxiety levels.
Take it a step further and fold all the washing you’ve been avoiding, not because you have to get it done, but because you’ll feel good once it’s finished. Slip on your PJs, grab a hot tea and enjoy being surrounded by nice, comforting things.
A lot of friends I’ve spoken to about anxiety have said similar things to me, about how much their living situation can influence how they are feeling. Unfortunately, to an extent, this is really true, and doesn’t work well if you’re anything like me – an anxious procrastinator. Some days I want to organize all of my Tupperware according to size and colour. Some days I can’t bring myself to do the dishes – from two nights ago. It’s a struggle, constantly being crippled by anxiety and procrastination, keeping you from the one thing that might actually make you feel a bit better.
Don’t put pressure on yourself to do it – guilt is a useless, thankless emotion – instead, do it because it might make you feel a bit better. Even just a bit is a lot.
4. occupy your own headspace
Throw yourself into something you like doing, or start a new project, without forcing yourself to feel like you have to commit to it or stick to it rigidly (therefore giving yourself even more anxiety – no thanks). Plan your next adventure. Enjoy spending time in thought about things that make you happy and feel nice – doesn’t matter if you don’t think they are 100% sustainable plans for right now, or if you’re holding yourself to ransom until you commit to it.
Make plans, browse Pinterest, doodle in a nice notebook with a nice fine-point. Scroll through hashtags on Instagram for your favourite cities. Go through old magazines you haven’t picked up in months. Try a meditation app, even if it feels silly at first, and give yourself permission to take it less seriously until you feel comfortable, if you need to.
The point is to let yourself do something that brings you calm or joy without having to worry about what it means or where it will take you. Be in the moment as much as you can, and don’t feel as though you have to think or do any of these things in a certain way.
5. eat well
Bloody hard, this one. It’s easy to ignore it because generally, anxiety isn’t particularly favourable to appetites in my experience. The unfortunate fact is that depriving my body of food leads to me feeling pretty shite anyway, and it doesn’t help to improve an already lacking mind/body state.
It’s fine if you can’t manage cooking a meal, or don’t feel like leaving the house, which is completely ok sometimes. But managing some avo on toast with a nice tea can at least get you through a few hours and satisfy your stomach until you feel like you can do something a bit more substantial. Lately, I’ve been making a big pot of pesto and veggie pasta and keeping it in the fridge/freezer for when I need to eat properly but know I won’t feel up to cooking or leaving the house after a huge day. It’s so nice to know I have something tasty and nourishing ready to go.
Drinking lots of water was bound to show up in this post – if you didn’t expect it, well done – but it legitimately does make a difference to how you feel. Hydration can improve how you feel in so many ways, but especially can give you a little extra clarity when your mind feels cloudy.
I hope you picked up one or two ideas. It’s not an easy thing to talk about, and as an anxious person, not an easy thing to write about at all, but I guess I’m slowly learning that it can be manageable, and doesn’t have to mean constant interference with your life.
There are a lot of things that you might think should have been included, and you’re not wrong, but I didn’t want this to be comprehensive or exhaustive, simply a little comforting and maybe helpful to at least somebody else. Things like spending time with others, calling someone you’re close with, being out and about, or mindfulness exercises are definitely important, but these are things I don’t count on for being especially helpful for me and therefore I didn’t feel qualified to talk about them. Like I said at the beginning, everyone is different and that’s totally fine.
Let me know what works for you! And if you ever feel like you need to chat about what’s going on, feel free to send me a message. I’m absolutely here to talk!
Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend. 🙂