The ultimate guide to coping with anxiety: 3 simple tips nobody tells you about
We unpack how to help you turn your fears into strengths as we dive deep into a mental issue so many of us deal with, but are possibly too afraid to talk about. Top 3 tips on coping with anxiety...
You either know the feeling or you don’t: the noise around you being dimmed by the pounding sound in your ears and the tightening around your chest. Or maybe, it’s a constant presence that leaves you with nails bitten to the quick and a repetitive loop of how you responded to your colleague’s email. Either way, we get it.
Anxiety is a natural part of being human – it is the internal dialogue that lets us know when we are in danger and need to activate our “fight or flight” mode. For Mental Health Awareness Month, Oneplan Insurance (that’s us by the way) is active in helping you keep informed, feel supported and unpacking the stigmas around anxiety and mental health.
We want to encourage our readers to not only feel comfortable in confronting their anxiety, but empower you with real-world techniques to help you turn your fears into strengths and lead a more meaningful, less anxious life. We got you.
What does anxiety look like?
Anxiety has many different faces: it does not always present itself as the gasping, shaking puddle on the floor that we seem to have associated with panic disorders (although this reaction is perfectly valid and common amongst those suffering from anxiety). Some physical and non-physical symptoms may manifest through:
- Numbness in the tips of the fingers, toes or lips.
- Ringing in the ears.
- An inability to concentrate on one task or conversation.
- Muscle contraction/tightness.
- Tearfulness and being quick to agitate.
- Procrastination and avoidance.
- Sweating from the hands and feet.
- Lack of control over your breathing.
- Needing external validation/reassurance.
Knowing what anxiety looks and feels like is the first step to understanding how you, as an individual, can unpack and understand what needs to be done to soothe the source and the symptoms of your anxiety. It is also valuable to know what anxiety may look like in other people who need your help in easing their anxiety (Simply click here if you want to read what we have to say about caring for a loved one with a mental illness).
Our top 3 tips to dealing with anxiety (the ones no one talks about)
1. Coming Back Down to Earth: The countdown method
Anxiety can have an otherworldly effect on you – you may feel displaced and out of touch with reality and your surroundings. If you learn to recognise the signs of an oncoming panic or anxiety attack, there is a simple method to remember that can bring you back down to earth and into the present moment.
It goes like this:
1. Find your breath. Gain a steady rhythm between inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
2. Find five things around you that you can see
3. Identify four things around you that you can touch and do so
4. Acknowledge three things that you can hear
5. Identify two things that you can smell
6. Acknowledge one thing that you can taste
While you’re here, check out this awesome read: Taking care of your mental health during a pandemic
2. Doing the Groundwork: Getting to the source.
Sometimes getting to the source of your mental illness is far more than bubble baths and attempting yoga practise videos (although these are super cool ways to get out of your head and into a simple, easy task). Sometimes, it is about being honest about the way you are treating your mind and body. Ask yourself:
“Am I respecting my body with the way I nourish myself?”
“Am I putting harmful substances into my body that affect my cortisol and dopamine levels?”
“Am I exposing myself to endless negative and violent media?”
Asking ourselves these questions is not an action of blaming yourself but an act of treating yourself with love and care to give yourself the best chance of overcoming your anxieties.
You give yourself a better chance of coping with your anxieties when you prioritise:
- Movement (in whichever way, shape or form brings you joy) - Check out this blog for a full body equipment free workout!
- Identifying harmful habits and patterns that are not benefiting your mental health – these habits could range from starting your morning with an influx of negative media to drinking too much caffeine or to having an unhealthy relationship with setting boundaries.
- Fuelling your body with the good stuff. Our mental health is, without a glimmer of a doubt, affected by the food we put in our body. A change in diet can have a huge impact on our anxiety levels and with how we cope throughout our daily lives. Check out these simple and healthy recipes.
- Surrounding yourself with authentic and supportive relationships
3. Communication & Information: How to feed your brain to feel good
Although there are few things more aggravating than somebody responding to your anxiety with dismissive anecdotes about the larger scheme of things, perspective is hugely beneficial to alleviating the weight of anxiety.
Understanding that there is more to you than the thoughts that you think is a huge step towards becoming somebody who views anxiety and stress with an awareness that can help you understand what you are experiencing for what it is: a series of fleeting thoughts that have nothing to do with your identity or worth as a person.
So, how do we get there? We work at it by feeding our brains things that make it feel good and strong:
1. Read books and listen to podcasts that unpack anxiety and the art of stillness. The more we engage with smart, well-meaning experts the more we can understand our own anxieties and fears and how to deal with them. (perhaps link books here)
2. Write – even if you are not a writer. Heck, maybe even especially if you aren’t a writer! Writing our thoughts, feelings and gratitudes down is the equivalent of picking your clothes up off the floor, it leaves the space in your head feeling far more manageable and decluttered.
3. A problem shared is a problem halved. The human experience is one to be shared and community plays a huge role in how we cope with our mental health. Anxiety tends to make us draw back from loved ones when our thoughts tell us we are burdensome or that our feelings are small, but you would be amazed at the support and kindness you will find when you reach out in the moments you feel out of control.
All the above considered, it is always advised that you treat your mind when it is ill the same way you would treat your body: book an appointment with your local councillor, psychologist or psychiatrist for an in-depth evaluation on where you are with your mental health.
Yours in quality health insurance that pays you BEFORE you see the doctor,