4 Things I Do to Control My Anxiety

By Milly Hailstone

Don’t get me wrong, I love an anxiety meme as much as the next nervous person. But, laughing at ourselves isn’t curing anyone. I’m super stoked that these memes are spreading awareness, and making it feel like we don’t have to struggle alone. But, I wanted to jot down some more practical ways to soothe your mind.

 

Back in middle school, I used to call my dad every day before he would come home from work. I was literally scared that he would die on the way home - I’m just giving you a clear picture of my anxiety level here.

 I'm 20 minutes early for everything. :)

I'm 20 minutes early for everything. :)

It’s always been knocking about in my brain, but it didn’t have a name. It didn’t give it words, or tell my mum how I felt. Instead, things got bottled up for years, and in University stuff got so bad that I ended up dropping out. I couldn’t even walk up stairs without tightness in my heart and feeling breathless. I went to the doctor’s, and after a heart scan that showed nothing physical was wrong with me, I was turned away. That was a few years ago and luckily along this lonely journey I’ve found some things that help.

 

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1. Talking About It

 

There’s nothing worse than thoughts swirling around in your mind and your heart getting so tight that it might burst. If you’re mid-anxiety attack, it’s good to try and talk about it, even if you struggle to get the words out. I find it so hard to communicate during these attacks, but once I release the thing that’s bothering me, it’s like it floats away. Somehow, by putting it into words it turns from a monster into a kitten.

I’m so lucky to live with someone who understands my silly brain, and is super patient with me when I’m trying to battle my own head. Try opening up to a friend, ‘cos chances are they might be feeling the same way. Mental health is slowly being brought into conversation and that’s a great thing, as I’d hate to think of anything struggling alone - half crying/half panicing under the duvet, as I have done so many times in the past.

 

If you don’t have anyone to talk to, try writing things down. It actually brings me comfort to write articles about my mental health, though naturally, I get anxiety about people reading it. But, you gotta be brave. If you’re even 1% braver than you are scared, you are winning.


2. Yoga & Meditation

 

Both y oga and meditation work as a preventative for me. Of course, I still have anxiety, but I feel like it’s much more manageable if I partake. I grouped these two together, as I believe it’s the breathing aspect of both that help me to achieve calm. If I start my day with yoga, my head is much clearer, and I’ll usually have an awesome day. But, sometimes I just can’t force myself to wake up early and do it. On days like these, I’ve found even just 5-minutes of meditation can sooth my brain.

 

For meditation, I use the Insight Timer app, it's free to download and has thousands of meditations, including some great ones for sleep, waking up, and following your intuition.

 

As for yoga, I use Yoga with Adriene on Youtube, she’s an absolute babe with hundreds if not thousands of videos on her channel. But, if you want an app I’ve got DailyYoga which sends me notifications so that I won’t forget to practise.

 

3. Quitting Caffeine

 

My stomach is known for immediately rejecting jager-bombs. Maybe it’s my body telling me that the mix of 40% alcohol with a drink that’s designed to make you shake is a bad decision. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had one of those, and it’s actually been more than 3 months since I’ve drunk a cup of coffee. I actually recently wrote a full article on Why I Quit Coffee to Cure My Anxiety.

 

I still drink black tea, I mean, I am English. But, it obviously doesn’t have as much caffeine as a double espresso. It’s more of a taste of home, and it’s currently -10c in Vilnius, so I do need something warm to sip. If I’ve had a particularly anxiety-filled day, camomile tea does chill me out. I used to think it was an old wive’s tale, but that stuff is legit, even if it tastes like dust. But, add some sugar or maple syrup and you are on to a winner.  

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4. Leaving the House, Even If You’re Anxiety is Saying You’ll Die

 

Eek. This one is tough. I’m not saying you should force yourself to go to a social gathering if you know you aren’t going to enjoy it. But, simply showering, getting dressed and going for a walk can completely change the direction that your day is heading in.

This happened a lot when I used to work from home. Some days, I would treat myself to some lunch or a snack in town as a bribe to get myself out of the house. It seems like food is a motivator for me. Even if I’m feeling terror at the thought of trying to order food in Lithuanian, immediately after I’ve done so I’ll be thinking ‘Why was I terrified of doing that?’.

Be brave, I know you can do it!

 

For some reason, I’m dishing out life advice, left, right and centre. If you need some more, check out A Millennial Guide: How to Get Your Sh*t Together.