The other night I had the heavy weight of anxiety hanging over my shoulders. I couldn’t focus on anything, I was biting and chewing my lip til it bled and I didn’t know what to do with myself. My body started to react to the anxiety as well, by giving me “stress neck” (as I call it) where it feels like a tight pressure around your neck. I also got an unsettled stomach causing pain and weird bowel movements, as well as a dull, heavy headache.
I didn’t feel sleepy at all and ended up distracting myself with episodes of Parks & Recreation til about 1 in the morning. I woke up late and the stomach ache continued but with more aggression. I ended up having to go back to bed with a hot water bottle for a while, distracting myself with Instagram. After a while my brain felt fuzzy and I felt like the anxiety had completely conquered me, like it had taken not only last night away from me but today as well.
I almost slipped into my old pattern of a ‘down day‘. I could recognise the thought patterns (which is a luxury and abnormality, normally I am consumed by my depression and anxiety by this point), and decided to get up and try to get out of my head.
I did this by doing small things like:
- having a shower
- washing my hair
- drying my hair
- doing my make-up
- putting on my favourite jumper
- making the bed with fresh sheets
- doing the laundry
- tidying the living room
- putting on my favourite songs on Spotify
- lighting a candle
- making a cup of herbal tea
- preparing a roast dinner
These little tasks help me to think about something else as well as give me a little sense of accomplishment.
There are a number of helpful websites that give you advice on how to deal with anxiety, such as:
plus a load more. For me personally, those small, repetitive actions help me forget my anxious feelings and focus on completing a task.
Folding laundry is a great one because not only is it a monotonous task, but it creates a tidier environment. Making repetitive marks on paper (drawing lines, circles, any shape really) is a good way to focus your mind on something else. Cooking a meal is full of boring prep tasks and requires your attention, as well as gives you a tasty meal at the end of it. Just like the very popular colouring in books for grown-ups, these little tasks focus your mind on other things, are repetitive, calming and give you a somewhat sense of achievement when you are finished.
Different things work for different people, so I would love to hear what things you do to help when anxiety strikes – please feel free to leave your tips in a comment below!