With that in mind, I scribbled down some steps/tips that have helped me to write this: The Anxiety Survival Kit.
DISCLAIMER! Anxiety has varying degrees, experiences and symptoms so this is probably not a one-size fits all, but it is intended to be helpful to anxiety sufferers and those around them.
SETTLE THE MIND:
My anxiety often affects my sleep patterns, leaving me wide awake at 2am, despite feeling exhausted or as it was years ago, causing me to wake up in the middle of the night and unable to get back to sleep. Here are some things which may aid restful sleep:
- having a bath/shower- sounds so simple but warming and relaxing the muscles often helps me feel more sleepy.
- herbal sleeping tablets and teas- a warm drink and sleepy herbs can't do you any harm so I take valerian tablets and occasionally sleepy teas like camomile.
- nature sounds- recently discovered the 'Nature Sound' app. I'm sure there will be many others, I personally like this one as it has the sound of 'Rain on a Tarp' which reminds me of camping!
- notepad- keeping a notepad by my bed helps me unload a lot of worries before I go to sleep and when I wake up. I tend to stop thinking about them once I have written them down.
- quiet clock- I had an extremely loud ticking clock which was distracting when already trying to get to sleep. Switching to an alarm clock with 'silent sweep' has made a huge difference. Having an alarm clock also means I'm not relying on my phone so I can switch it off.
- A camera! Or a project to think about. I am very restless and just need to 'burn off' my anxiety. Suggesting a project to someone to start or joining them is a good way to ease their anxiety.
- Keeping a notepad/notebook/blog- recording my thoughts/ideas helps me clear out my head space and feel calmer.
- Try to cut down on caffeine and sugar, I should do this more.
- Eat more fruit and veg, give your body natural energy and keep it functioning well.
- Maybe offer your friend a fitness pass/voucher, fitness can be expensive but is really beneficial to people with anxiety.
- Accompany them on a walk, a cheaper way to get out of the house, get exercise and endorphins. When anxiety is bad, you may not want to go out at all. A friend who is keen to get outside and go with you is really great.
GETTING COSY/TREATING YOURSELF:
Anxiety is horrible, it can leave you in a horrible state, to a point where you don't even recognise yourself. It takes over and pushes your personality and feelings out. Give yourself a break.
- Go out for a cuppa with a friend/relative
- Indulge in films/books/podcasts, ask/search for recommendations
- Paint your nails/get a massage/your favourite shower gel or bath bubbles- trivial I know, but sometimes these little pamper moments help make you feel human again. Which brings me nicely onto my final category!
At the end of the day, you're still a human being. People around you need to remember that you suffer from anxiety and try to show their support.
- Hugs- I am super tactile and love to hug. Hugs make everything better, it just shows you care.
- Recognise the signs- if someone is not their usual selves, perhaps seeming more irritable/sensitive/snappy/quiet etc. This is their anxiety showing. Don't hassle them or tell them what they're feeling. Listen and ask what you can do to help. This can be tough when a sufferer's emotions are running high, but they already feel low inside. Criticising them or telling them that they're over-reacting makes them feel even worse and isolated because it can seem like the world is against them. They are not in control of their emotions, it is how they feel at that moment.
- Ease up- when I'm not anxious, I think I have a good sense of humour and don't take silly insults too seriously. However, when I am suffering, jokes at my expense and jibes just put me down even lower. Consider what you're saying and whether the person is in the mood or not.
- Compliments- as I said, hurtful words really can hit a nerve when you're anxious. The good news is that tiny compliments go a long, long way. If I have told myself a million and one bad things in a day, someone genuinely saying just one nice thing brightens up my mind and gives me hope that I'm not so bad after all.
I hope this is useful, it definitely gave me a lot to think about.