Anxiety is difficult to deal with on a day to day basis let alone in the times we find ourselves living in now. Lockdown is a word that strikes fear into most people, let alone those who suffer from some sort of mental health issue. The idea of being shut away from the world and everyone you love is more than the physical removal from society but also the mental. Like most mental illnesses, these are not easy to spot and regularly go unnoticed by the general public. Symptoms can range from racing thoughts, uncontrollable over-thinking, panic and the feeling of impending doom. Have you been in a situation where you are somewhere where it's dark and unfamiliar? All your senses heighten and suddenly you can hear every little sound and you start to worry about your safety? Apply this to any sort of situation in day to day living and that is anxiety.
At some stage in our lives we have had the feeling of anxiety but what does it mean? The word is derived from the Latin word Ango which means to constrict. You can suffer from anxiety for short periods such as being called into your bosses office without any just cause. Just the walk there will send hundreds of negative thoughts racing through your mind looking for a reason. For most people, this feeling is quickly dispersed with a conclusion. For others, this is not the case. With another lockdown imminent, people who suffer from mental issues such as anxiety could find their levels of stress and discomfort rise to a completely new level.
In our life coaching sessions, we look at different ways to combat these issues and try to get to the root cause of why these thoughts appear. It is important to understand that as life coaches we are not counsellors or psychologists but we use smart questions to allow you to understand what is causing these issues and how to reduce the impact they have on your life. Below we look at 10 ways you can live with anxiety.
Breath. Just breath. It's a common sentence that we hear from others around us when we are stressed but something that we don't often think about. Why should we, our brain has this on autopilot. Taking deep breaths reduces stress. Fact. By taking regular deep breaths we send a message to our brain to calm down and relax. Frantic breathing increases our heart rate and stress levels as this behaviour dates back to our caveman days. Doing the opposite causes the opposite reaction. So the next time that you start to feel anxiety or stress coming on, just breath.
Linked to breathing, aromatherapy dates all the way back to 2500BC where juniper berries were used as an antiseptic. Often associated with a hippy lifestyle (incense burners dotted around the house), essential oils help trigger stimuli's in the brain causing different emotions to be created. It does this by sending signals to the limbic system causing the brain to release neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, endorphins, and noradrenaline depending on which oil is used. There are hundreds of different scents to buy at low cost. Lavender is the most common scent and this helps develop relaxation. For those that hate the smell of lavender, Jasmine has similar qualities. If you are suffering from anxiety, this is a must. For a great deal, click here
Easier said than done with most gyms now closed. It is a well-known fact that exercise is good for your mental well-being as well as the physical. When you exercise your brain releases endorphins which act as pain-killers. It also improves our ability to sleep which is a stress-buster in itself. Whether you pump iron or just go for a run, all these things increase your level of self-confidence which reduces the stress-levels in your head. Even 10 minutes of exercise a day will have a dramatic effect on your anxiety levels and we all have 10 minutes to spare so get out there and get moving.
The idea of sitting still and thinking of nothing for 10 minutes in our fast-paced world seems extremely unproductive to most. The issue with meditation is that it is far more difficult to do than it sounds. Being in the present without our inner-voice screaming at us all the time is a skill that takes a long time to master. With that said, anything worth doing takes time. Having the ability to enjoy the moment, whether that be with your family, enjoying a good meal or just observing life, will allow you to enjoy the moment there and then. Being able to give your full attention to your family and not thinking about the business meeting tomorrow or what you need to do next week, will benefit your mental health and create a positive impact on your family and friends. Taking 10 minutes each day to debug your mind will also make you more productive and give you the ability to deal with stress far more effectively in the future.
5. Healthy Eating
We all know that eating McDonald's every day is bad for our heart but did you know it is also bad for our mental health? Fast food has been linked to depression, anxiety and other mental health issues over the past 10 years. The reason??? It tastes so good! When we eat fast food it triggers the rewards centre in our brains. When this happens a chemical called dopamine is released creating a fast-food high. This chemical is linked to pleasure and as we eat more and more our brain creates more receptors for dopamine. This response is short-lived and once we have finished our meal we are left feeling sluggish and low. Similar to how drugs work, we crave more to stimulate the high again. This vicious circle can lead to long periods of depression in addition to the physical strain it has on our bodies. The cure...eat healthy, nutritious foods. The fresher the better. Research by the University of Leeds found that families that eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day had better mental wellbeing than those that ate none. Find out here what counts 5 portions of fruit and veg. Want to save money. Why not start up your own veggie patch? What better excuse could you have, which leads onto our next point...
6. Get Some Air
There are four things we need to survive. Food, water, shelter and oxygen. Without pointing out the obvious for why we need oxygen it is also a de-stressor. For anyone that has spent a summers day walking in the countryside, you know the positive effects that it has. From the release of endorphins, increased quality of sleep to just blowing away the cobwebs from inside your head, heading outside to a quality air supply helps relieve stress, anxiety and panic for all. Click here for great walks in your area.
7. Regular Structure
Lockdown is as irregular as you can get. It has upended our lives in an unpredictable way without warning. We keep hearing the message "this is the new normal" but for those suffering from mental health how can you get your head around it? Structure. All our lives we have loved structure. This has been drilled into us from when we were born. By building structure we allow ourselves to enter a period of normality and familiarity, which is where we feel most safe. Structure is built by doing the same things at the same time every day. This could be something as simple as getting up in the morning at the same time, following a morning routine to creating a to-do list. No day is the same and things will always try to up-end your routine but by following it as closely as possible, will allow for you to end a safe zone where your stress levels will decrease.
Where is your safe place? Maybe it's in a meadow, in the sea or even home in bed. Visualisation is a strong tool in your arsenal to combat day to day dealings with anxiety. If you feel anxiety coming on. Take a moment to visualise being somewhere comfortable and safe. This sends messages to your brain to reduce your breathing and heart rate and control your stress levels reducing the fight or flight reaction that often triggers panic attacks, enabling you to return to a level -headed state of mind. For more information on visualisation, click here
Remember that feeling when you last cried with laughter? Nothing else in the world matter for that moment. Whether you were watching a film, with friends or at a comedy club nothing else mattered but that feeling. To quote the late Robin Williams "Comedy is acting out optimism" (who funny enough is not in Empire's 50 funniest films list). Laughter is powerful and our bodies know it too. Another one of those endorphin releasing triggers which reduce stress, increases positivity and helps battle anxiety. Being in a positive frame of mind massively reduces any feeling of doom or racing thoughts.
10. Talking It Through
We have saved the most difficult to last. It has taken generations to get to the point where we are starting to view mental health as an actual issue in society. Years gone-by, many were told to "man up" and many more lost their lives to bottling up issues that they should have been encouraged to talk about. You may have heard of the saying "a problem shared is a problem halved" which is no better way to say it. Talking through your issues allows you to reduce the weight of the anchor around your neck and enables you to hear your issues out loud. Whether you talk with your best friend or a professional, talking out your issues will always lead to a better situation. Here at Dan Cumby Life Coaching, we have different techniques that will allow you to tackle your issues head-on and find what the root cause of your anxiety is, allowing you to manage and eventually become free of your mental illness.