ANXIETY is the topic and it’s something I’m sure we all have experienced or are experiencing currently. Did you know that 1 out of 6 people will suffer with anxiety? I didn’t and it makes me really, really sad. Anxiety is inevitable, we can’t get rid of it but we can manage it and that’s what I’m going to talk about! I’ve been going to weekly counselling sessions since February and I have learned some really valuable tips that have definitely helped me deal with my mental illness.
What I mean by this is, usually what we worry about is insignificant compared to everything else. Once it’s in perspective it’s easier to deal with. The best way I can describe this trick is use it in an example. I hate the dentist, I always have and I always will. I had to have 2 teeth taken out and I was that anxious that I couldn’t even stand because my legs were trembling so bad. So all I did to calm myself down was this. I told myself this is just “10 minutes of my entire life” and then it felt so insignificant. Do you see what I’m getting at?
You’d be surprised at what a powerful tool we have at our fingertips, our breathing. This tip also kind of comes thanks to my friend “do you think you can make it through the next 10 seconds?”, the answer to that is usually a resounding yes! In counts of 10, breathe in and out, breathe in through your nose on one, exhale through your mouth on two, etc etc. My counsellor asked me if I think about breathing when I’m talking in a group or doing a presentation, my reply? No. Which is so funny because our minds are so cruel, whilst we’re too busy worrying about what we’re doing, we forget to do the one thing that keeps us alive!
It’s surprising at what a difference drinking 2L of water a day does for your mind. Ever since I started drinking this much a day, my mind feels so much clearer. I can look at the tiny details and focus on them, rather than stressing about the bigger picture. I feel like I can sort my emotions and thoughts in tiny little folders in my head and put them away on a nicely decorated shelf, imagine if that’s what our brain actually worked like?! But seriously, try and drink as much water as you can in a day, you might wee a lot but you will thank yourself later. It also gives you amazing skin so it’s a win-win situation!
ACCEPT THE NEGATIVITY
I think the thing that deceives us the most is the illusion that we can control our thoughts and feelings. We can’t, it’s a fact. Because we’re human and these thoughts are a natural process. I’ve been reading a book called ‘The Happiness Trap’ by Russ Harris and in it I found a brilliant example of this.
“As you keep reading this paragraph, try not to think about your favourite ice cream. Don’t think about the colour or the texture. Don’t think about how good it feels as it melts inside your mouth. How’d you do? Exactly! You couldn’t stop thinking about ice cream.”
When I read that, all I could think about was Magnum Death by Chocolate ice cream and debating whether it was my fave. It’s nearly impossible for us to control our minds! So if we accept that we can’t and allow the thoughts to flow through our minds and leave naturally, we will feel a lot better! It sounds silly, but it really works. I’ve been going through a hard time with my life at the moment. I’ll be honest, when I feel these waves of emotions coming along, like missing a friend I’m not in contact with anymore, I let myself be sad, have a little cry and then move on. I get it out of my system and then distract myself by watching a tv show or just carrying on with what I was doing before this wave of sadness occurred. Don’t dwell on the fact you’re sad, just let it happen and move on.
Now this is slightly new to me but trust me, I have faith. My counsellor directed me towards the following video. Amy Cuddy: “Your body language shapes who you are” If you have a spare 20 minutes then I do recommend watching it as Amy is so inspiring! The general idea of the video is that your body language mimics your state of mind. So if you feel less powerful than someone in authority who is talking to you, we tend to shrivel up. This can happen by us folding our arms, crossing our legs, hunching our backs etc…However we can “fake it till we make it” like Amy says, we can trick our bodies and minds! If you feel insecure or anxious, then make a big powerful pose, stretch out for 2 minutes every day and you will notice a difference in your perception of yourself! The video really does explain it a lot better than I did.
Lastly if you’re doing a presentation at school or just a class discussion. On your notes, write yourself little reminders. For example draw an eye to remind yourself to give eye contact, B for breathe, slow down if you talk fast etc, do you see my point? It will really help you to kick those nerves and you will feel great after for giving a kickass presentation! On these notes, write things like ‘you’re doing great’, ‘good job’, ‘keep going’ and relating back to the first point, ‘it’s only 5 minutes of your life, this will soon be over’. It’s such a useful trick!
By: Victoria De Costa