(This started out as an Instagram caption, but it got too long so I had to switch over to my blog. We’re keeping it short and caj, though, don’t worry).
I woke up feeling intense anxiety today. The kind that leaves my heart racing, my head spinning and my hands shaking.
It wasn’t the social kind – which is my usual brand – but a general sense of panic and a feeling that I have too much going on in my head and so something important might break.
Sometimes I wonder whether anxiety is a real illness. Despite having suffered from it for years, I still find myself questioning, now and again, whether it’s just something I’ve made up. Am I really ‘just a worrier’ who needs to pull herself together?
And then a day like today comes along and I’m reminded just how real this thing is. It’s physical, it’s all-consuming and it’s got a mind of its own.
I’m doing okay now, by the way. This isn’t a cry for help. Instead of sitting with it all morning, letting it grow and simmer and beat me down, I took action. Today, I chose to fight it.
And that’s not always easy and it’s not always possible. Some days it’ll win, and all I’ll be able to do is lie down and let it eat me up.
But here’s what I figure (and it’s a simple one, really, but it’s taken me a long time to learn):
The more I practice the things that both prevent my attacks and help me to overcome them, the more natural and habitual those responses and exercises will become, and so the less I’ll suffer.
So today I am being strong. I’ve remembered my tricks for fighting this thing and I’ve been working through them for the last few hours.
We’re all different, and this isn’t about preaching ‘simple solutions’ or ‘quick fixes’ to what is a very complex and personal problem. But here’s what’s working for me, in case you need a bit of help today too:
1. I told my boyfriend how I was feeling
I didn’t go into detail or need a long chat. “I’m feeling really anxious today” was all it took to let him in on what was going on inside my head. I haven’t always found it easy to say those words out loud, but when I do, it helps us both.
We’ve lived together for about five years now and been together six. He knows the drill so he didn’t push it. Instead, he ran me a nice cool bath so I could relax whilst he took care of the housework. Having support in that way from someone who loves me is invaluable.
2. I accepted the way I’m feeling and told myself it’s ok to take things slow today
No pressure, no to-do list, just a slow, careful approach to the day and one little thing at a time.
It’s a Sunday, so it’s not really a work day but – being freelance – I did have some things I wanted to get done today. I’m still going to attempt them, but I won’t beat myself up if I don’t get as far as I’d hoped.
3. I meditated with the Calm app
It took me three attempts and even then I didn’t manage to go very deep into it, but I still did it.
I sat in this sunny spot in the garden for fifteen minutes and tried to use breathing exercises to slow everything right down.
I know it all sounds a bit new-age bullshit, but really – it does help.
I woke up feeling intense anxiety today. The kind that leaves my heart racing, my head spinning and my hands shaking. • Instead of sitting with it all morning, letting it grow and simmer and beat me down, I took action. I can't manage this every day, but today I chose to fight – and it helped. • We’re all different, so I’m not trying to preach ’simple solutions’ or ’quick fixes’ to what is a very complex and personal problem. • There’s some stuff that’s working for me right now though that I wanted to share, just in case you need a bit of help today, too. • I've put together a quick blog post (link in bio) that goes into a little more detail. I hope it's helpful. ??☀️ #overcominganxiety #anxietyrelief #anxietyrecovery #anxietyhelp
4. I reached out to someone for help
Not for a bit of sympathy and some general mental health support (although that stuff’s good too), but for practical help with a specific problem that’s been causing me a lot of stress lately.
I picked just one issue from the web of worries inside my head and told myself: ’Today, let’s start work on this one.’ It’s not the only thing that’s been bothering me lately and I don’t think it’s the sole cause of my anxiety attack, but it’s something that needs working on, nonetheless, so tackling it would mean progress.
It’s a work thing, so my friends and family wouldn’t get it. I really needed to talk to someone who would.
Because of that, I messaged someone on Twitter who I don’t know IRL, but whose work, business and attitude I admire. We had a good chat and it helped me to figure some stuff out, which immediately settled some anxieties.
We also have plans to talk again about the possibility of a mentoring relationship, so there’s a chance this may turn into a longer-term solution, too.
And that’s it. Four little steps that have helped me to feel a little more okay today.