Lately I have been suffering with the worse anxiety I have ever had. After a crisis I am left mentally exhausted and unfit for work. Instead of wallowing in self pity I wanted to write a list for my anxious self to follow; so I did. You can have it too, as and when you need it.
1. Listen to other people. Be observant and take notice of the good things people say about you. If different people are telling you the same things, particularly good things or things to work on, the opinion tends to be fact. People are ultimately good, and so are you despite your tendency to overthink and second guess. Just take stock of what has been said, and work on believing it. It is an incredibly difficult process and may take a lifetime, but it is the most necessary part of coping.
2. It is okay not to be okay, but it is also okay to be okay. It is important to realise that being okay and not okay are two different states of being you are entirely capable of. Do not, however, get sucked into being okay as a life norm. A lot of anxiety sufferers are empaths as well as overthinkers, so feeling someone else’s pain is as real as feeling your own. Make sure you put your own thoughts first as leeching others is toxic. You must realise you cannot be there for everyone, and saying no is better than saying yes.
3. Following from the above, cut the toxic relationships that assist with feeling not okay from your life. From family and friends down to relationships of a romantic nature, cut them if they are causing anxiety in a negative way. Anxiety, in relationships, is the norm. Overthinking can be present, but a good relationship is one where reassurance is provided when you need it. If the other party is not providing such or creating a constant source of doubt, then there is no harm in letting go but no harm if you don’t. Realise your worth, if people are getting to you, tell them. If they appear truthful or honest in response, sit down and work out ways you can improve your communication and lessen your own overthinking. If the response appears wholly negative and leaves you feeling worse – consider this. Use your worth to think if the relationship is one that provides with contentment and joy or not.
4. Say what is on your mind. If it is to a specific person, about a specific thing – say it. Thoughts can be all consuming and are better out of your head than in it. The response then becomes easier to digest and discuss than letting the potential outcomes eat away at you. The worst that could happen is exactly that.
5. The present is your friend. You cannot change the past; the future is uncertain and can eat away at you with its lack of concrete grounding. The past has happened. It can be hard to make peace with it, but trying to do so helps you quell its perturbing nature. If it leaves you with scars, find positive ways of healing them. Yoga, meditation, exercise, reading, writing, find a hobby. Deal with the past in expressive ways. Inasmuch, the future’s uncertainty is enough to freak anyone out. But living each day in the present informs the future you of your intentions. Uncertainty breeds overthinking. Ground yourself in the present and battle this.
6. Have a strategy. If you find yourself overthinking to the point of spiral and panic, you need a strategy . Having one reliable person in your place of work, teaching, school or whatever group you are in is a great technique of immediate short term assistance. With one codeword or sign that communicates that you are in need of help, you can seek immediate comfort. Give your signal and remove yourself from the situation to calm yourself, regroup and rebuild. If you are alone, seek a happy place or song. Even a memory locked away in your mind can do the same. Control your breathing and focus on you. Scan your body and surroundings. Above all, tell yourself you’re going to be okay. The anxious mind feeds off irrational and illogical thoughts. Focus, worry about them, if need be, informed by the context. Look at the wider picture. WHY are you worrying about them. WHAT NOW should I be focussing on instead. Baby steps. One at a time. You’ll be fine.
7. Seek help. Perhaps the most important. If your quality of life is at rock bottom or feeling unimportant to the world, now is your time to fight. Heading to your GP or hospital, talking with a close one, phoning a helpline or even 999 us better than talking and thinking yourself into a black hole. Confronting these thoughts are terrifying but wholly necessary. I know it is scary to talk about these thoughts, but if you want to feel more self worth and stifle the anxiety, you simply are going to have too. That is life. Besides, there is no judgement. Human beings are capable of great deals of empathy and love if they are close to you. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with taking medication, although you may not want to wander down that lane. It can be highly beneficial. Outside of the NHS and private healthcare, there are a myriad of services designed to sit you down and talk about YOU. They are a call or google away.
8. The best version of you is your current you. Ignore what social media and its idealistic, unrealistic bias shows you. Sometimes all you can do is have a day. Have one day. That is sometimes your greatest achievement. Getting out of bed and having a day is the best thing you can ever do. On those days, read this list. Everything is temporary; it will pass. Someone told me not to exclude myself from the belief that every person can be great and are capable of amazing things. They are right. Your self worth is important, so on the days you do not want to move, breathe or even live, look at your list of what people say about you and seek the truth in it.
The best version of you, is you.