I heard on the radio yesterday that one-in-five new mums suffer with some sort of mental illness during or after pregnancy, with a huge amount not seeking help, or being provided with the correct support down to resources in our country.
At some stage in our lives maybe we all experience feelings of anxiety, these feelings are unique to each person.
Some struggle more than others, people have different triggers, different symptoms that can include: feeling light headed, breathlessness, paranoia, feelings of panic, numbness or tingling in hands and feet, problems sleeping and excessive worrying. Of course there are a wide range of anxiety disorders from social anxiety, to more specific phobia disorders.
Some live with it daily, were’s some could go months without feeling anything – and then it appears out of no-where.
Over the years I have found that the main trigger for my anxiety is doing to much, and letting negative thoughts creep back in. The symptoms I personally suffer with include: excessive worrying, feelings of panic and problems sleeping.
With mental health being such a broad, complex and very personal subject with a lot of stigmas surrounding it.
I thought I would discuss some positive factors I incorporate into my life, that help address my own anxiety, and in turn lead a happier and more fulfilled life.
Music: The first thing I do is surround myself with music at every chance. The music has to be very chilled, inspiring and soulful. The benefits that occur when listening to music includes: reduced heart rate, it lowers blood pressure and decreases the level of stress hormones.
The past couple of months I have been reaching for Solange Knowles album, Take a Seat. I could write a whole review about this album. Intertwined with each track is thought provoking, enriched interludes (featuring her Mum & Dad) about black history and their struggles and opinions that are all laced with incredible passion, love and pride. The album is like nothing out there, it is pure, moving, inspiring, educational, sincere and unique. It embraces identity, with poignant lyrics and has a very chilled neo-soul feel. When I listen to it I feel totally relaxed, at ease, and inspired.
Reading: Reading is a great way to take your mind off whatever may be troubling you, and the symptoms you may be feeling. Reading naturally slows your heart rate down, and relaxes muscles resulting in your body feeling relaxed. Just don’t read anything too scary.
I would thoroughly recommend the following self-help book:
Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (Susan Jeffers)
Talking: Getting things off your chest: talking to friends and family, helps a lot. You will find the majority have experienced anxiety and can relate to the way you may be feeling. They can offer advice and reassurance. Knowing you are not alone, and the feelings you may be experiencing are in fact normal, this reassurance is so comforting.
Walking: Getting out and taking a long walk really does help alleviate symptoms, even if only slightly. Unused energy in the body can result in your mind feeling clogged, walking at a pace you feel comfortable at can help increase carbon dioxide levels that helps you body to breathe correctly, thus reducing the feelings of palpitations, tingling and breathlessness.
New surroundings also gives your mind the time to focus on other things.
Writing: A journal or notebook is a great tool. Personally for me, I write down anything that is worrying me. On the next page I then write 10 things that made me happy that day. From a hug, to a nice cup of coffee. It helps you to live in the present moment and reflect on all the good things that happen each day, and most of all really appreciating them. It is also great to flick back through and read. The worries I wrote down last year literally have me laughing so hard. By reading through things that I worried about in the past helps, it makes me realise that I will probably feel the same about the ones I wrote down today – as 99% of the time everything always works out.
Meditating: Free apps like Head Space and Calm are just amazing. They are guided meditation exercises that are so easy to incorporate into each day. When I take ten minutes out a day and do Head Space after a week I naturally feel more calm, less anxious and my mind feels clear and focused. The Headspace app also helps to practise breathing correctly, and to incorporate breathing exercises when an anxiety attack does pop by to say hello.
Slow Down: When ever I start feeling anxious, I slow down, clear my calendar of activities or things that don’t desperately need doing. I then make it priority to focus on all the above anxiety busters, and over a couple of days my anxiety is 80% reduced.
I like to watch comedies too, but I do try and reduce my TV consumption as it can overstimulate the mind contributing to lack of sleep, which of course doesn’t help anxiety in anyway.
I now view anxiety differently, it does not scare me like it did.
I now think all the symptoms I feel are just my body’s way of telling me that I have not been looking after my mind, body and soul as well as I could be.
It is giving me a kick up the butt and letting me know it is time to take time out – and focus on the above strategies that work so well for me.
What helps you when you are feeling down, anxious or stressed I would love to hear?