In recent years, a lot more emphasis has been put on mental health and there are many campaigns out there that encourage people to speak out about.
I, personally, have agoraphobia – this is the fear of being in a situation that may result in panic attacks or the feeling of being trapped, helpless or embarrassed.
The main trigger for me is currently trains but I’ve managed to find things that have allowed me to manage.
The best part of being anxious on trains is that I commute to London so I’m getting on trains near enough every day :)
I’ve tried professional counselling, speaking with people, altering my diet, tracking everything I eat, I once even cried in a doctor’s office. I just want to give some insight into everything I’ve learnt (so far) so that I hopefully help someone recover quicker.
I’ve found the following 5 things have helped me leaps and bounds:
There is quite a lot to be said about just taking 5-10 minutes every day for yourself.
I use the app ‘Headspace’ that can be found on the app store of Android and Apple smartphones. I’m sure there are a number of other apps that you can use as well as numerous videos on Youtube that guide you through a routine too.
It’s super easy to do as it’s down to what you perceive it to be. However it is actually surprisingly hard to maintain as a racing mind usually tries to take over.
The concept is to essentially stay in the moment and live in the present. This categorically combats the premise of anxiety as well as depression. Anxiety is generally the fear of the future (the unknown) and depression is commonly the dwelling in the past. Living in the present is bliss.
2. Speaking To Friends & Family
This is quite a stereotypical one but also a very important one.
There is some strange stigma around sharing your feelings, especially for men as they are perceived as being strong and the protectors of their family.
However, according to mentalhealth.org 1 in 8 men have a common mental health disorder. So if you’re thinking that all of the men you know don’t have any mental health disorders, statistically you’re probably wrong.
If you’re reading this and you don’t have any anxiety issues, just watch out. Your friends and family may be exhibiting indicators of anxiety. There’s no harm in asking if they’re ok.
Speaking to counsellors quite helpful. However, in my experience, their approaches are usually ‘cookie-cutter’ and not specifically tailored to my scenario.
However, my girlfriend is a great listener and knows me better than anyone. I can definitely recommend confiding in a close friend or partner as a great way to help alleviate anxiety.
3. Don’t Neglect The Veggies
An apple a day keeps the doctor away… this is obviously not accurate but does have a good point. An article published by BBC news suggests we should be consuming 400g of fruit and veg per day (or 5 portions of 80g).
I tend to struggle a bit with this and I don’t really have an excuse but I do take multivitamins every morning to help.
There are some really easy ways to sneak in fruit and veg into your diet. Swapping in a banana instead of a packet of crisps or adding spinach into a sandwich are all great ways to start racking up those vitamins.
Additionally, most supermarkets have ‘own brand’ bags of mixed frozen vegetable. These are great to just throw into a pot of rice or pasta. It also gives you a good vitamin boost (and they keep for ages in the freezer).
I’m not entirely sure HOW it helps with anxiety, but I definitely noticed a massive difference when I was eating healthy.
I wasn’t as on edge, my digestion was so much better and everything just seemed generally brighter.
4. Keep Fit
This goes hand in hand with eating your veggies and is fairly well-known as it’s been covered quite a bit by the media.
Getting a cheap gym membership or going for a run a couple of times a week is great for the body and the mind. It gets the blood pumping and almost gets you into a meditative state.
You’re solely focused on your breathing and your mind is (mostly) clear so it helps to keep the anxiety at bay.
At the time of this post, we are still in lockdown due to Coronavirus so going to the gym is off the cards.
However, investing in some cheap dumbbells or even some super cheap resistance bands from Amazon, you can create a challenging workout for all fitness levels. In addition to this, I also like to try and hit 10,000 steps a day.
According to healthline.com, healthy adults can strive to hit anywhere between 4,000 and 18,000 steps a day. If you don’t think 10,000 is achievable, don’t sweat it.
5. Repeatedly Expose Yourself To Your Triggers
The number 1, hands down, best way I have found to help reduce my anxiety is to simply put myself into situations that I’m not comfortable with until I find them comfortable.
It sounds really stupid and in my scenario I’m kind of forced to deal with trains on a regularly basis but I can honestly say that if I were to compare my anxiety with trains when it first hit me, to my anxiety now – they are worlds apart.
This may seem insanely daunting and it’s worth noting that I would suggest trying the above 4 points first to minimise as much of the angst as possible.
If you manage to get through it once, the next time will just get easier, and easier… and easier.
I really hope that this helps anyone who is experiencing any sort of anxiety and if anyone has any tips they have to help with their anxiety, please do share them!
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