I don’t know about you but I definitely have those moments where anxiety and worry creep in. Sometimes it’s a normal part of everyday life, but other times it can feel overwhelming. I’ve put together some ways to reduce anxiety and thought I’d share them today.
Learn something new
I find huge relief in doing something, in accomplishing something, no matter how small. Learning a new skill gives you a huge boost of confidence, energy and enthusiasm that’s hard to beat. One of the big things that helped me overcome my social anxiety was learning more about the world of marketing and business, putting that knowledge into practice, and seeing results. Every milestone and achievement is one step closer to mastering something.
At the moment I’m finally learning to drive and it’s doing wonders for my anxiety. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed I try and focus on my driving lesson each week as something to look forward to, and get a real buzz from coming away having learned a new manoeuvre or had a successful drive.
You don’t have to choose something so big (or costly!) though, there are plenty of free and low cost ways of learning including online platforms and local groups at the library.
If you’re struggling with the thought of doing something, see if you can bring a friend or familiar face along with you. It can be really normal to feel anxious if you’re going somewhere different, travelling somewhere new or even trying a new hobby or fitness class alone.
These days my social anxiety is much better than it used to be, but the times where I feel most anxious are where I’m heading to a party or event that will be full of people I don’t know. In the past I’d turn down invites completely, but now instead I’ll ask around and see if anyone I know is going or if there’s the option to bring a plus one. I find family events easier too, as having the kids around is a distraction and an easy point of conversation if you get stuck on what to say.
Fitness classes or trying to lose weight are other things that feel so much easier and more achievable if you join in with a friend too. I know I keep meaning to become healthier and more active but the gym or local hall looks so daunting at first! Even if you can’t bring someone with you to an event, class or activity there’s a lot to be gained from having that support in other ways too – a Facebook support group (like this Channel Mum one), a chat with your friends or joining an activity-specific forum.
Have selfish moments
Sometimes anxiety gets the better of us and we need some time to handle it and keep it at a reasonable level. I think everybody needs ‘me time’ and time to indulge themselves every now and again – especially when it comes to mental health.
If you’re struggling or feeling anxious about something that’s coming up, or maybe you’re avoiding something (that’s me!), allow yourself that time to do something that’s comforting, relaxing or reassuring. It might be reading a chapter in your new book or enjoying a soak in the bath, or even just doing nothing for an hour or two. Sometimes giving yourself that space can do wonders and keep anxiety at bay.
The ‘old me’ would’ve cringed at this – at my most anxious moments leaving the house was the LAST thing I ever wanted to do. The ‘new me’ however is starting to understand why people recommend exercise and fresh air so often when people are going through a range of mental health struggles like stress, anxiety and depression. It does feel healing and, much like enjoying a nice cup of tea, it’s that ‘ahhh’ moment to breathe, escape and find calm.
If going for a walk doesn’t feel possible or it’s not your thing, even opening the window and leaning out helps. Listening to the birds, feeling the cool air on your face and taking some deeper breaths always brings me more control over how I’m feeling. I usually feel my calmest when I’m out with my family walking around the country park, but if I’m alone a walk into town is the perfect balance of time to unwind, think things through (or think about nothing at all) and exercise.
I think spending time outdoors can be so, so beneficial when it comes to physical and mental health and I’m trying to make sure I do something every week that involves walking, enjoying the fresh air and exercise – even if it is little moments here and there. If you’re doing the same my list of low cost, no tech weekend activities includes lots of ideas.
Visit your favourite places
Going somewhere different or new can bring out anxiety in lots of people, but if it’s already part of your life it can seem that bit harder. That’s why if I’m feeling overwhelmed at the thought of choosing somewhere to go for lunch or what to do with the kids I go for one of my favourites, my safe places. Cafes, play areas, parks and walks that I’ve done lots of times before and know that I’ve got great memories from. Heading to one of my most-loved places is one of my favourite ways to reduce anxiety.
I’m very lucky in that we have a few local cafes that are really lovely – the staff are so friendly and welcoming. In the past I’d struggle to chat with friendly shop owners and servers but over time it’s become easier and I now appreciate the interactions that I have out and about so much more. I tend to head to the same play parks too – knowing where the facilities are, where we can get a snack nearby, whether there’s the right type of swings and slides and so on – it makes it easier to enjoy the reason you’re there.
There’s comfort in familiarity, so don’t feel like you need to stray from your favourite places just because everyone else is jetting around the country or tasting the menu at every restaurant in town.
Over to you…
Do you have any suggestions for keeping anxiety at bay? I’m always looking for ways to keep my stress and anxiety levels low, so I’d love if you’d share any in the comments. If you suffer with anxiety I really hope something in this post helps next time you’re overwhelmed. I read all my comments so please do write in if you’d like to share anything :)
If this post has helped you or you think it could help others I’d really appreciate you sharing it.
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