I saw a quote this week which said that appreciation is the antidote to anxiety. Ever since, it’s had me thinking – what have been my antidotes? My anxiety has definitely improved in the last few months, but what have I done to make this happen?
Easier than it sounds..! If you practice mindfulness already then you’ll know how hard this can be. I keep reminders on my desk at work, in my car and at home which nudge my mind into remembering to live in the present. Even a post it note can do the trick, as long as you know it is your reminder to stay mindful.
I also note my thoughts and feelings when I notice they are there. By gently saying “thought” or “feeling” to myself when I notice them, and changing my focus of attention to whatever is happening in the moment, I don’t follow them which is what my anxiety feeds on.
This is personal to me, because historically I have had such a hard time doing this. I am a people-pleaser, and will do things for other people at the jeopardy of my own happiness or well being. This also covers making decisions which involve other people, for example choosing what film to watch in the cinema. The first challenge was making decisions for my partner and I, which felt uncomfortable at first but I now feel more at ease doing this, without feeling guilt. I am now working on saying no to things I don’t want to do socially, with no excuses or panic.
Keeping a Gratitude Journal
This is something I decided to do myself after reading that appreciating the good rather than dwelling on the bad is a habit we should all be getting into. I use the journal app Day One on my phone, which means I can update it whenever I feel like it. I use this to journal every day, but just before bed I make a list of three things I am thankful for that day. It means I go to sleep with these thoughts in my head, and I feel happier.
On Friday 18th March, I took part in the Sport Relief Swimathon. I signed up for the 5k swim challenge back in January, just after starting therapy.
When I went back to work in February, swimming gave me a focus on something other than anxiety. It gave me a feeling of being me, a feeling of achieving something that existed outside of the office. Before diagnosis, the only identity I had for myself was my job title, and the only thing which seemed of any importance to me was whether my work was done. Now, I had something else which mattered.
When I get in the pool after work, I literally feel the weight of the day wash away. I have also started using it to practice mindful meditation. I count every length, and if my mind wanders easily I count every stroke, timing myself each time. All I think about is getting to the end of the pool, before starting again. Once I’ve finished, I head home and feel amazing. Not only because I have exercised, but because I’m not worrying about work. At all.
Sounds strange, but when I feel stress or anxiety, I try and smile. It eases my mind and helps me relax. Along with some appreciation for what is good in my life, smiling goes a long way. Try waking up with a smile too. It seriously works.
I think as long as something works for you, keep doing it. There are so many ways to divert your mind from those anxious feelings, but remember that you can’t get rid of it completely. Don’t be hard on yourself if you have an anxious day, I still have them and I just try to ride it out, wake up the next day, and start a fresh. Oh, and don’t forget to look at your Me List if you need to.