Mental Health Awareness Month: How I'm Beating Anxiety
By Milly Hailstone
Hey anxious friends. As most of you probably know, it's Mental Health Awareness Month right now. So, it's the perfect time to support and help each other even more than usual. Haven't heard from one of your friends in a while? Check up on them, and remember to look after yourself too.
Ok, let's get down to it - the big, bad wolf that is anxiety, and what I'm doing to overcome it. I think the biggest realisation for me was noticing my triggers. Once I started to think about exactly what was making my head vibrate, it was easier to distance myself from these lifestyle choice/surroundings/people. Below, I've listed some of the things that contributed to my anxiety and things I'm doing instead to make my life better.
Hopefully, by reading my story, you will be able to implement good changes in your life, too.
I Left the Big City Behind
Living in a big, vibrant city can be very exhausting, and really stressful. Initially, you are lured there to create a better future for yourself. You're dreaming of better job opportunities, an active social life, and the chance to earn some good money.
However, various factors like high-rents, cramped living conditions, and low wages often get the best of many millennials. It feels crazy when you work full-time, yet you have less money than you did when you were a student. It can turn into a vicious cycle that is very hard to break, and when you think about all the struggles of living paycheck to paycheck it's no lot surprising why so many young people suffer from anxiety and depression. It feels like a personal failure.
But, it's not your fault - in my opinion, we're the victims of a broken economy. With 100s of applicants applying for every single job and the 'normalization' of renting a damp room for $700 per month, you've got to start believing that you're not the one in the wrong. Give yourself a break because city life just isn't all it's cracked up to be.
I ditched England a year ago to start a new life in a quiet city with cheap prices. Yes, wages are quite low too, but there is less to pay for here - things like Council and Car Tax just doesn't exist... I feel like the pressure is off. My main reason for moving to a different country wasn't money, but I've found that life does get a lot easier when you don't have so many bills to pay.
I Quit Coffee
It turns out that caffeine isn't my friend, and if you've got anxiety it's probably not good for you either. Since quitting the black stuff, my thoughts have slowed down and I'm sleeping better at night.
I replaced it with tea for a while, but now I just drink water. I think this is the first time in my life that I've actually been hydrated and it feels pretty good - maybe, another factor that is contributing to my reduced anxiety?
I go into a lot more detail about coffee and it's contribution to anxiety in the link below, so check it out if you think it's something that could be affecting you.
Related: Why I Quit Coffee to Cure My Anxiety
I Joined the Gym
I'm honestly convinced that they gym has saved my life. After more than a year of being a shadow of my former self, I feel good again. I've got my self-confidence back and I feel like the old me. I've also lost 11 pounds since Easter which is a great feeling.
It's funny because I'd wanted to join the gym for such a long time. But I'd held myself back by being too anxious about it for so long. If only I'd known from the start that this one lifestyle change would be so important to mental health. It seems so clear to me now.
Today I even faced my fear of running on the treadmill and I nailed it - I ran for much longer and faster than I'd planned. In my opinion, the exercise doesn't just work out the body, it's essential for the mind, too.
I Stopped Buying So Much Stuff
Ugh, mass consumerism irks me. Advertising constantly leads us to believe that our lives are incomplete which subconsciously triggers feelings of lacking which we think we can fill with pointless possessions.
This doesn't work, and we need more and more and more to fill the void. Up until I had this sudden realisation, I was happy to spend all my wages on clothes, shoes and other shit I didn't need. But, when you start to spend less and live a more simple lifestyle, it gets much easier. I'd fully recommend having a clear out - a tidy home works wonders for the mind, too.
For now, I feel like I'm heading in a really healthy direction. I shed a lot of bad habits that I picked up in my teen years, like negative self-talk and binge-drinking and have finally figured out how to look after myself.
I'm liking my quiet existence so much, that my boyfriend and I have decided to buy a house in the forest. We'll have land to grow our own vegetables, a couple of dogs... I'm fully aware that I sound like Lenny from Of Mice and Men right now, but living off the fat o' the land doesn't sound like a bad idea to me.
If you're going through a bad time, I want you to know that it does get better. You are the one in charge of your life, and by making some small changes you can become a happier person. The power is in your hands. You are not your anxiety.