Learn how to free yourself from anxieties with these 6 easy steps

Anxiety is a condition that affects everyone at some stage in life. For some people, this is more of a chronic condition than others who only get anxiety occasionally. Having effective coping mechanisms is essential to success when you’re in this headspace. I will go through some processes and ideas that may help you cope when anxiety comes around.

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Anxiety is a condition that affects everyone at some stage in life. For some people, this is more of a chronic condition than others who only get anxiety occasionally. Having effective coping mechanisms is essential to success when you’re in this headspace. I will go through some processes and ideas that may help you cope when anxiety comes around. 

Breathing

While it might sound obvious – and honestly quite irritating when you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack only to have a well-meaning bystander telling you to “just breathe” and to breathe with them. I don’t know about you, but it’s about as useful as someone waves a sandwich in your face when you’re hungry, wondering why you don’t have a sandwich too. 

However, there are exercises that you can do to incorporate them into your exercise routine or a morning ritual for yourself when you’re making your coffee. 

The most wonderful Yoga With Adrienne has the most wonderful YouTube channel where she takes you through Yoga practices for free. She has an in-depth breathing playlist to teach you various breathing techniques. Her no BS approach to Yoga encourages you to “be where you are” with your practice. If you can’t do the poses, then that’s ok. She encourages the mantra that “turning up is enough”. 

You can find a link to all of her breathing exercises below : 

Writing

Taking some time to write what is causing you anxiety can be a useful practice. I don’t mean for you to analyse what is going on or the things you’re worried about or things that might cause you added anxiety. Focus on getting them out of your head and onto some paper. 

I recommend keeping a piece of paper or a notepad beside your bed or the toilet. Wherever you find yourself lost in your thoughts. Don’t judge your thoughts or content. This is just an exercise to help clear your mind and help you get a little of mental rest.  

Meditation

Like breathing. Telling people to meditate can seem like it’s such an obnoxious thing to say to someone. However, while it’s proven that meditation has positive effects with helping your mental state. There is also equally enough bias and “a way to do it” that people pontificate about. 

I want to tell you that there is no right or wrong way to meditate. It is a practice of just turning up for yourself in that practice of trying to calm your mind. I use Headspace (not nearly as often as I should) and I’ve found that a lot of what makes up a good practice is less about hitting that “zen” feeling or anything like that but more attempting to turn up to the practice and to try. 

The simple fact of the matter is – your mind will not be quiet the first time around. Meditating will feel uncomfortable and unnatural when we’re so programmed to doing things. 

Here is one of the best things that I’ve learned from Headspace: 

“Headspace Co-founder, Andy Puddicombe likens the practice of meditation to sitting by the side of a road, with instructions to watch the traffic. How do we stop ourselves from getting caught up with the thoughts? It’s a question of perspective.”

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a form of therapy that focuses on helping you identify patterns in your everyday life that might be triggering any anxiety or depression. It is a system that can apply to a wide number of mental health concerns, not just anxiety. Like all approaches in psychology it will depend on each person whether this approach suits people or not. 

While I’ll always advise going to see a professional licenced therapist for any work – sometimes its not always an option. So here are some recommended text books that talk you through the basics as well as having worksheets to support your learning. (Pro Tip! Use a copier to work on the worksheet so you can reuse them multiple times) 

Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Retrain Your Brain: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in 7 Weeks: A Workbook for Managing Depression and Anxiety
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT
Change Your Thinking: Overcome Stress, Anxiety, and Depression, and Improve Your Life with CBT

Talking

In the spirit of counseling, it seems purposeful that we talk about talking. We must find the right support network for us to be supported when we’re having periods of anxiety. Sometimes, despite our friends and family’s best interests, they might not give you the support you need. 

It’s unfortunately common that friends and family may, very well intentioned, tell you not to worry about it or that you’re overthinking things. That doesn’t help with calming feelings of overwhelm or anxiety. 

This is where seeing a registered, licenced therapist comes in. They provide a safe space where you can share your thoughts and feelings in a non judgemental space. Please don’t misunderstand me, it can take a long time to find the right therapist who gets you. I have been with mine through an app called BetterHelp for the last 3 years and my therapist has been essential to my mental health. 

For anyone unsure if counseling is for them, there is a weeklong trial that you can take where you’ll be matched with a therapist and you can see how you feel. 

https://www.betterhelp.com/rpc/8e1fb10457057a04-2-01

Movement

In the lengthy line of cliches about what to do to ease anxiety, going for a walk is nearly always high on the list of what they recommend. I know how bothersome this advice is first hand, as it was my father’s solution to everything that ails you. I legitimately wanted to strangle him every time he mentioned it. 

In saying that, it doesn’t have to be so productive as going for a walk. It can be as simple as taking the time to stretch. Or to do some Yoga poses. When I’m feeling ungrounded, I often do a sun salutation to help me reconnect with myself. 

Yoga with Adrianne 10 minute Beginner Sun Salutation Practice is just enough for me to feel stretched and calmer. 

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As for more traditional stretches you can find a selection of them on YouTube but some of my favourites are from Dr Joe. 

I hope these suggestions will help empower you to make the most out of the times you have anxiety and to encourage you in that things get better. 

Physical Copies of the Pain Journal – Available

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Losing my Uterus

I lost my fight to keep my uterus and my reproductive organs in January 2019.

I’m not sure how much of a surprise this would be to longtime readers of this blog, but I lost my fight to keep my uterus and my reproductive organs in January 2019. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sit down to write about this and how I’m feeling now that I’m 6 months in recovery. I will say that it has been a genuine life improvement since before and after the surgery, there was a deep relief of not having to be subjected to the pain and mental anguish that I was suffering from while I still was menstruating. 

The visual difference is startling. I look healthier, more alive because of the surgery. There is something that shifted in between the time the surgery happened before and after the recovery. I can’t help but feel like there has been an exchange of problems. They are lesser, by all means, but as my dear friend Juan said to me – this will be a complete change of life for me and that it will take longer than 6 months to realise or even understand what my new life might look like – let alone feel. 

I didn’t understand the wisdom in that until I arrived at it. 

They’re a lot of things you don’t get told about the recovery process – that you will have a good 8 weeks of not being able to move because of true, utter fatigue. I don’t mean the fatigue of having the flu or even from running a good race and feeling tired from it. I mean the fatigue where you are walking and then you’re on your bum Harvest Moon Style from exhaustion cause you will pass out. Waiting on the ground on shop floors waiting for your spouse or friends to come to you with a wheelchair. 

I’m still not 100% sure that even after 6 months that I’m not past that stage yet. I still have days where I feel like I legitimately cannot go far when I walk or need to take breaks when walking because I’m not able to do a lot at one time. It’s easily one of the most frustrating things about the process as I’m an ambitious person by nature and keeping moving, focusing on what’s ahead is usually the thing that drives me the most into progress and success.

However, there is no rushing this process. There are no shortcuts. There are no tips or tricks or loopholes. There is only learning how to listen

Learning to Listen

Most people would tell you I’m a very good listener; I can judge between listening cathartically to someone who’s going through a hard time and someone who needs advice. I’m good at listening to the words unspoken by lovers and friends alike. Body language, the sense of space, voice tone I can pick these out regularly in the people I love. Even if it’s through text. 
I cannot say the same for listening to myself. 

I have never been the sort to claim that I have a true sense of myself – well, unless you count that time when I was 23 when I thought I had a decent handle on things. You only really know how little you know when life throws things at you-you are unprepared for. I would have told you I have a good sense of my body – I’d know when I would bleed. I knew when cramps were coming; I knew when my mental state was fading and what to do to combat it. 

I have no baseline for that anymore. I have no ques or learned patterns for what to expect and how to respond when things go awry. One of the side effects (if you can call it that) of having a radical hysterectomy is the fact that your bladder notifications go awry. So you’ll wet yourself for a good chunk of your recovery because you will just wee yourself. There is no sugarcoating it. None of this has been in any way glamourous or for those who are faint of heart. 

Same goes for hot flushes and other symptoms that come with menopause – it’s a natural thing that happens when women get older and stop naturally menstruating. Not in one big whack of a menopausal stick. 

Which I feel like it has beaten me with. 

It’s lead to it being nearly impossible to listen to my body when it needs things or when it doesn’t. Another thing that people don’t tell you about having a radical hysterectomy is the weight gain. I have stretch marks from my arms to my knees because my weight has ballooned since the operation. I was 82kg before I had my operation. I know that I’m closer to 113kg now (and that’s probably me being generous).

Physicians have repeatedly told me it is my body is out of whack completely with hormones and that it will get to a stage where things will settle down again. Friends who have gone through similar and others who are dealing with their own body positivity have confirmed the same. That it’s happened to them too. 

There is so much happening and I’m feeling so much that it’s hard to know what to listen to and when. This has led to anxiety and panic attacks I’m not used to feeling. Heart rate spikes of 120’s sitting down when my smart watch is poking me being like “hey you’re not exercising at this second and your heart rate is stupid high – lets take some deep breaths yeah?”

Learning to Trust

A very handsome personal trainer once had a serious philosophical conversation with me once about how I didn’t trust myself very much over my attempts of leaning onto a bench without feeling like I will fall. I left the session embarrassed at my clear failure to squat onto a bench without freaking out that I’d fall. He told me that trusting myself was something that he couldn’t teach me, he could tell me all day long that the bench is there but unless I will trust my body to the process, I could never do it. 

It’s something that I have been thinking about for years since that day. Did I really not trust myself at all? After everything that I’ve gone through with myself; did I really not trust myself after all of that? For sure, I lean on people where it’s appropriate where I can’t help myself. But I know that when push comes to shove, I’d do what I’d always do and keep myself safe. 

Isn’t that trust?

The truth is more complex than that. They’re both two very different things for me. I trust to keep myself safe – that is true. But I’ve learned it’s more akin to hitting the emergency brake rather than slowing the car down in time to learn how to stop. 

Learning how to stop takes time – anyone who’s ever ridden a bike or driven a car or had a skateboard will tell you that. It’s easy to go fast – it’s easier to keep going. It’s harder to predict when to stop or how to stop. You could keep jumping out of your car or bike or skateboard when it gets too fast and get yourself to safety. But you’ll never really learn how to stop correctly if you keep doing that, you’ll never understand when it is the right time to stop and when is good to continue if you keep thinking everything that crosses your field of view is out to damage you. 

There could be other things that could go wrong. You could focus on driving and stopping that you run out of fuel or you burst a tire. These are all things that can happen to you that are unrelated to your ability to break, but it won’t stop your brain from going to that place. Thinking jumping out of the way is always the solution when in reality – all you need to do is change your tire. 

Myself and Splintor moved into our first home recently, and it’s required me to learn a lot of trust. We got a new addition to our family in terms of a Newfoundland puppy called Cloud and a tortoise called Hubert. So I’ve spent a lot of time out in the back garden where we have a step and that is where I play with Cloud. 

I’ve been learning to use my legs to lift myself straight up from sitting to standing. No using my hands or anything else as support – just my legs. It’s been a process, the step is very low and there is a lot going on in my head when I try to do this. I spend a lot of time worrying about the action rather than doing it, and when I do it successfully, I’m rarely met with kind words from my mind. My brain would like me to believe that it is a fluke or that I’ll just fall over again and what is the point of it all other people can do it. 
However, I know better than most just what an asshole my brain can be with the little victories that I should take to heart rather than the shoulds and coulds. That is an exercise all in its own about learning what to trust and what to listen to when you’re lost at sea. 

Sometimes it’s trusting that the Sun will still rise to meet you and the stars will shine to greet you – whatever the path you’re on or where the road may take you. 

For now, I think that’s the only thing that I can trust enough – and for now; I know it’s enough.

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