Hello, before we start, I would like you all to read this mother’s post about anxiety in her shoes. It’s very insightful http://bloggermummylauren.co.uk/2016/12/anxiety-diaries-christmas.html Maybe it’s a post you can conspicuously share on your social media for your family to ready without having to say a word. Just a thought.
Anxiety. “Physical symptoms include blushing, excessive sweating and shortness of breath, but the most incapacitating effects are caused by sufferers’ fixation on their perceived social inadequacies. Potentially stressful events consume thoughts for months beforehand, and the often imagined disaster is analysed at great length afterwards.” The triggers which cause social anxiety are so varied that it is difficult to describe a “typical” sufferer, either in terms of symptoms or personality
Disclaimer – What makes my anxiety and raises my levels won’t be the same for you. This blog post is about what works for me and may or may not work for you. I’ve had anxiety problems all my life and have only been diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder and going to therapy for the past year and a bit. This is a combination of things that work well for me but Christmas is always a struggle for me no matter how much I love it.
First things first, sleep and plenty of it. Make sure you’re getting in a good 8 hours of sleep every night. The best way to do it for your body is to keep to a schedule because it does mess you up royally if you go to bed different times each night. Our bodies like routine and anxiety loves to dwell in the minds of the sleep deprived so get some zzzz’s.
Take a break
Catch your breath, clear your mind. Most of the time 5 minutes is enough for me to calm down if I’m getting anxious. This can be quite difficult when you’re surrounded by people though so if you need to excuse yourself to the bathroom for 5 minutes then do so.
For me, seeing family, as much as I love them actually stresses me out. Same with friends. So the thought of spending all day out of the comfort of my home and with my family gets my anxiety on tenterhooks, but, instead of planning seeing family across a couple of days, I try to do it so we see them all in one day. All most like pulling the band-aid off quickly. And, if I need to excuse myself then I do so. Families at Christmas are a hectic house full kind of day. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Yoga, meditation and deep breathing are techniques that are supposed to aid in stress and anxiety relief. I would like to focus more on Yoga in the coming year as well as some meditation. I’ve tried meditation in the past and it hasn’t worked but I’m still determined to give it another good go as I know how beneficial it can be to give your head that 10,20 or even 30-minute break from the stresses of everyday life.
One of my big problems I need to work on is that my body and mind confuse my emotions. When I feel excited about Christmas my mind interprets that into a stressful situation and my excitement turns to anxiety. Meditation and Yoga would be good techniques to try for this.
Deep breathing is a technique I still use regularly and it helps me so much. Once you learn and recognise your own symptoms of your anxiety levels rising, if you take a breather, step outside, get some fresh air and just focus on counting your breaths. It can make a huge difference. So breath. In for 5, out for 5.
Go easy on the goods
Bad food, caffeine and alcohol are all things that can raise your anxiety levels. Personally, I avoid caffeine altogether and I have maybe 1-2 alcoholic drinks a year. I don’t like the effect alcohol puts on me so I don’t like to drink much and as soon as I have any caffeine I can feel it affecting me. It could just be a placebo but it’s just as easy for me to buy a nice brand of decaf coffee. My go-to is Clipper if anyone is interested.
Unfortunately, I struggle with binge eating and when I have an episode is when my anxiety is already playing up and then becomes ten times worse. I’ve been working on this and I’m doing a lot better. When I eat crap I generally feel crap so I do often head towards the veg rather than the chocolate these days. Maybe not so much as soon as my period turns up though. When that cloud descends you can find me living in the cupboard stuffing my face.
Excuses, I could give you a lot of them for the reasons I’m not working out at the minute but I don’t have any valid excuses other than Christmas getting a little too stressful for me. Yes I know, exercise is supposed to help but at the minute it’s another thing to add to my stressors so it can wait until the new year. In the meantime, I’m trying my best to reduce my calorie intake and eating plenty of healthy bits now that it’s so close to Christmas.
When I need to pee I will go to the furthest toilet away from me. I’m watching what I’m eating, taking stairs where I can, going for walks when I can.Standing at my desk to write. Not eating after 8pm. You will be surprised how much you can save or burn calories with these little changes but it’s still no good reason to avoid exercise. Exercise is one of the best medicines…unfortunately for all us people who hate the darn thing.
Don’t overthink everything
At Christmas you need to have a plan for when you’re seeing family and how you’re spending your day. However, if you’re like me, when you’re doing something it’s always in the back of your mind what you need to do next, what times you need to be here or there. It’s important to try and switch this off and be more in the moment. Easier said than done but I find a good way to do it for me is with distractions, specifically, things that make me laugh. Wether that’s my dad or husband making jokes, playing with my nieces or sitting around the table to play a board game.
When I’m blabbing to my therapist a lot of the time my ‘problems’ aren’t really so and are more manifestations that my mind has set as problems. In the past I’ve struggled a lot with thoughts about people talking about me as I’ve been bullied in the past. However, my therapist pointed out that most people in the street probably don’t give me two thoughts as I don’t for other people when you’re busy in your own lives. So, next time you have a problem. Work it out and come up with a solution. If you’re anxious about seeing family at Christmas. Ask yourself why. What is it about seeing them that is stressing you out? Then come up with a solution. If you need to cut your visit with them short or avoid alcohol while you’re there. You could even explain the situation to them and they will most likely help to keep your mind distracted and focused on more fun activities.
Another helpful tool is to write things down. If your mind feels cluttered in one particular moment. Start scribbling. It allows you to get it off your chest so to speak so you can focus on enjoying yourself.
Weight goal. Job expectations. Deadlines. These are just a few of the goals and expectations we set targets around in our lives which is fine if they are achievable. If you set unrealistic goals you will stress yourself out trying to achieve them even though you know you can’t. Then, when you can’t achieve them you beat yourself up about it and the cycle continues. Cut yourself a break!
Set yourself a goal to lose 2 pounds in a week instead of 5 or allow yourself 2 weeks to finish that nasty essay instead of 3 days. Set yourself realistic goals and expectations to avoid disappointment and triggers for your anxiety.
Focus on you
Don’t focus so much on pleasing others. This is a huge part of dealing with anxiety. You need to do what makes you happy and be a little more selfish in the process, don’t go overboard and step onto that high horse or anything though. What I do personally is, if a plan is stressing me out then I don’t continue to make the plan or I ask for help in doing so, for example, if working out when you’re seeing a specific friend to give them their Christmas gift is stressing you out and raising your anxiety levels then stop planning it. Most of the time these things have a way of working themselves out. If you keep in general chit-chat with them, most of the time you find a day you are both free and just pop round when you’re ready. It’s really not worth the stress
Also, don’t do things just to please others. Especially if you know it’s going to make you unhappy. Yes, do little things here and there for your significant other, family or friends. Anything such as grabbing the remote for them or washing the pots if it’s your turn. Those tasks are part of a relationship and don’t really affect your mentality that much whereas something like eating that food item you don’t want to can really kick things off if your anything like me.
Positive start to the new year
On New Year’s Eve, “I am not going to berate myself for the things I thought I should have achieved this year. Instead, I am going to use the time to celebrate how far I have come. There will be no resolutions made” This is a little quote from a blog post I was reading and it sums it up pretty well.
If you are always looking into the past and focusing on the negative then you will only move forward holding onto those negative thoughts and emotions. In order to have a positive new year, you need a positive attitude to match which means being nicer to yourself and seeing things for what they are. Sure, I haven’t uploaded a collection of short stories ready for the Christmas period but I have uploaded 3 books this year and have become a published author in the process (true story about moi).
If you struggle to tell someone
Finally, if you are really struggling no matter what you do, tell someone.It may seem daunting because it is for someone with anxiety (I still don’t ring people), but, you will feel so much better for it. Instant relief. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Whether it’s telling your husband by text when he’s in the next room or talking to your cousin on facebook messenger or skype. It does not matter. Just tell someone.
My husband is my knight in shining armor for talking too and has helped me through a lot of the harder times. I also have another family member that has been through similar things so it’s nice to talk to her and have that in common as it makes you feel less alone. Especially at Christmas. You can be surrounded by people but feel very alone.
You’re not alone though. So many people struggle with Christmas even if they don’t have anxiety issues and so many people are struggling with Anxiety, depression, diseases, everything you can think of. Someone is struggling somewhere in the world.
Most importantly, remember that Christmas will be all over in a few days time, and this bout of anxiety will pass too. If I’ve missed anything out then please let me know and I will add accordingly. I would love to hear what you think and love reading your stories. Feel free to email me for a natter if you have experience with any of what I’ve talked about or just need someone to chat to.