Disclosure: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions and experiences shared are totally my own. Thank you for your support.
I remember being up all night at the age of five worried about a maths test I had the next day. My childhood was a bit dubious, and, although my Mum did her best, I think I missed the security of a loving, secure and safe home. I think that's where it all started. Low confidence, worrying about things I was too young to have to worry about and never feeling fully secure and safe.
|Images from Unsplash, Umit Bulut and Levi Xu|
But, thanks to lots of self-help books, mindfulness, diet, yoga, meditation and long reassuring talks with trusted friends, I've almost got it beat. But it's something I don't know if I'll ever really, totally see the back of. It still rears its head when I have a lot going on or if I stop looking after myself. It's almost like an instant response in my head to any given situation, although nowadays the symptoms are much less severe and I kind of see it a bit like that tiny little devil that used to sit on Tom and Jerry's shoulders in the cartoons. I just see that it's there, recognise it's not going to help and kind of ignore it. It helps!
Keep an Anxiety Symptom Diary
I was contacted by Kalms, who have just launched some lavender capsules to help anxiety sufferers, and they're also running a campaign called #livelifeready to raise awareness of the symptoms of anxiety and how people can hopefully help identify and learn to help manage them. They thought it would be a good idea if I tried out a symptom diary for a week, to find out how much of an effect anxiety still had on my health.
It looks a bit like this (this is the one Kalms sent me to try):
I was interested to find out after I filled in my diary for a week, that the symptoms of anxiety aren't just happening at times you feel anxious or worried about something. For me, they tended to spill over into the next day, too. This just goes to show how anxiety affects you physically.
Some of my anxiety symptoms include tightness in my jaw and my throat, which cause aches and a feeling of a lump in there, that comes and goes. Sometimes I get like a fluttering in my stomach and chest. My psoriasis will get suddenly worse. I'll get a tension headache that will last for a day or two. Other symptoms that people associate with anxiety include feelings of dread, tension, stomach upsets (hello IBS) and a racing heartbeat.
So what can you do about it?
Good question. And the good news is that there are quite a few things. I collected a lot of what science says about anxiety and put it in an ebook last year. Some ideas include listening to music (science says that classical works the best), going for a walk in nature or doing some yoga to stretch out all those tense muscles. Sometimes all you need is a rest on the sofa in front of a good film. I do all these things. You can also go to bed early, read a book - it takes your mind off of things to worry about - or put some lavender, frankincense or marjoram oil in a diffuser and make your home smell lovely.
Other ideas include
Meditation - no twinkly bells or lights needed, just sit quietly with a cup of tea for 5 minutes, listening to your breathing
Mindfulness - focusing on what you see and feel in that moment, the toes in your shoe moving as your foot hits the ground walking, listening to the birds tweeting in the trees while you walk to the shops. It all keeps your mind from churning over problems that, quite often, have no solutions anyway.
Breathe - breathing deeply helps you calm down and can help shorten an anxiety episode
Talk - A chat with a friend or trusted family member can help you calm down in two ways - firstly, they can give you a perspective on things you're worried about that you might not have thought of. And second, you can end up talking about something else completely and have fun.
For me, I think that anxiety is like a drip of water into a glass. You don't really notice the drips going into the glass every now and again, but if you leave it there and don't tip it away occasionally, it builds up until it overflows and spills all over the place. For me, that is when I become aware of my anxiety and the physical and psychological symptoms that can come with it. I can look back and see all the tiny things that happened over the past few weeks or months and see how they all, one by one, contributed to the glass overflowing.
All that meditation, walking, mindfulness - it's just like a reset button - or you tipping away what's built up in the glass.
This post was sponsored by Kalms. Do have a look at their site for more details on ways you can help cope with anxiety, and if you're experiencing any symptoms like those above then it's definitely worth checking in with your doctor to have a chat.
How do you manage your anxiety? Share your ideas below, so we can help each other.