For most of my adult life, I have been a sufferer of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, which can be such a crippling disorder.
When you have anxiety it feels as if no matter how much you try to excel in life, the anxiety always seems to be there, getting ready to strike and pull you into a spiral of stress.
The smallest things can trigger anxiety. Unwashed dishes, going to a class or even watching an advertisement on TV that reminds you of something stressful.
It is in these moments that it is important to learn techniques to minimise the anxiety and take the control back.
In 2017 I had my little girl, Luna. She was my turning point for wanting to fight the mental battle that I had been avoiding for so long.
Gone were the days that I could just sit at home and just let my anxiety take control.
Now I was a mother, a new player had entered the game and it was up to me to show her how to win at life.
I had to get up and fight back! For Luna, and most importantly, for myself.
How to get through the day when your anxiety is overwhelming
There is no “quick fix” for anxiety, but there are ways that you can deal with it.
Sometimes we get so overwhelmed by our anxiety that it makes it near impossible to function efficiently. It can affect our appetite, mood, productivity and even our relationships.
Luna is nearly 2, and I still get overwhelmed by my anxiety, but I have learned some incredibly helpful ways to cope when anxiety just gets too much.
Here are some tips on how to get through the anxiety and stop it from ruining your day.
Step away from the computer and put your phone down
Stepping away from technology should almost always be the first thing that you do when you are feeling overwhelmed.
The internet is an incredibly powerful tool, but if not used correctly it can harm our mental health.
When we are connected to social media, or staring at work emails, it can escalate the situation. The overwhelming feelings build and our frustration can cause damaging problems.
Here are some key reasons why you should step away from the digital world for a bit:
- Stops any self-judgment, simply because you won’t have any Pinterest-Perfect photos to compare yourself to
- You won’t make rash purchases or decisions that may seem like a good idea under pressure
- Your focus will be put back onto yourself. Distractions may make it feel like the anxiety has gone away but you won’t be benefiting long term
Looking at work-related media will increase the overwhelming anxiety that you’re faced with.
This one is probably the most common recommendation for overwhelming anxiety, but for a good reason. When we are anxious, our bodies are in a state of heightened stress. Our pulse quickens, muscles tense up and minds race. Anxiety puts us in a Flight, Fight or Freeze situation.
Taking a few moments to focus on your breathing is a way of telling your body “Hey, everything is okay! There’s no danger”
It may not have an immediate effect, and that is okay! But it can be enough to get your body to relax, which then allows you to focus clearer and make it through the other side in one piece.
Doing this every time your anxiety gets triggered by a memory is also a form of conditioning. You are conditioning your brain to calm down when you have that thought, rather than relive the stress it caused.
Try to get into a habit of calm breathing for any anxious and stressful situation, over time you will start to see some amazing benefits.
Remind yourself that you’re amazing
I know, you probably feel far from amazing in these situations – but you are!
You’ve made it so far already, and the fact that you’re here and reading this means you want to kick anxieties butt.
That makes you amazing, so let yourself know.
I heard that eye roll!
“Everyone always recommends the same things. Exercise, breath and drink water”. That is because it’s solid, proven advice.
You don’t need to run a marathon, just get outside and go for a quick walk up the street and back. Even walking to your mailbox can be enough if you can’t get out properly.
Plus, getting fresh air and sunlight is an awesome added benefit to light exercise.
In my blog post “Anxiety never rests” I talk about the anxiety that was triggered by exercise (ironic, I know) and how beneficial it was for me to fight the anxiety and follow through with the task.
Proof that anxiety will strike anytime, anywhere, but can be fought back with beneficial body movement!
Remember that most things can wait!
Dishes? They can wait.
That blog post you’ve been meaning to write? Yep, it can also wait!
What can’t wait, is your mental well-being. Your mental well-being is incredibly important, and has a valuable role in deciding whether you make or break – so put it first!
You’ll do the dishes, and write that post, it’s inevitable. So just forget about them for 10 minutes and do something that you enjoy.
If you try to take on tasks that are overwhelming you, while you’re overwhelmed, you run the risk of doing an incomplete or incorrect job. That can lead to even more anxiety.
So, take a break then do the job right the first time!
Learn the power of no
Saying no can be such a soul-crushing experience if you are a “yes” person.
You want to help people, make them happy and have them like you.
The problem with saying yes all the time is that we tend to say yes to other people’s needs, and neglect our own
Now, let’s flip that!
Learning to say no and focusing on yourself can be a soul-freeing experience!
When you say “no” to something that can wait, or you simply cannot do it, doesn’t just prevent the stress that comes with dropping everything you’re doing. It also teaches yourself that you are important.
Your self-care and wellbeing are just as essential as anybody else’s.
Saying no also limits the risk of anybody taking you for granted, show them your self-worth, because you are worth it!
Write a To-Do list and “eat the frog”
When I first heard the term “eat the frog”, it was so confusing. Now I know what it means, and I think it’s great?
“Eat the frog” is a saying coined from a quote by Mark Twain.
“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”
What it means is that you should get the biggest job out of the way first, especially if it is something you have no motivation to do.
Eating the frog is an incredibly powerful tool for anxiety sufferers.
Anxiety feeds off uncertainty and unfinished projects.
If you set out to “eat the frog” and get that one task out of the way, you will feel significantly less anxious about having to do the task.
So write a to-do list, and find the biggest thing that has been overwhelming you. Then go do it.
Eat that frog and show it who’s boss!
Start a Passion Project
A passion project is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a project you are passionate about.
Starting a passion project can be such a great way to fight your anxiety on the spot, as well as giving you something positive to focus on in the future.
Passion projects can be big, or they can be small. Whichever you feel is the best option for you!
It can be a craft project, starting a blog, creating a garden bed or simply starting a journal. Just about anything that you want.
For me, my passion project was my blog, Mindful Galaxy.
My blog was born directly from my anxiety. One day I just got so fed up with feeling so mentally crappy, that I went “You know what, I’m going to write about this!”
So I took all of those horrible feelings and channeled them into something positive, productive and that can help others get through similar struggles.
Start a journal when you’re feeling overwhelmed
This can be such a powerful tool, especially if you regularly suffer from overwhelming anxiety.
Get a notebook and a pen, and every time you are feeling overwhelmed write out why you are feeling this way and what has triggered it.
Then, once you’ve written out your how and why start writing out the things you will put into place to help you realign with your emotions.
Once the anxiety has passed, read back over what you have written. You can use this to pinpoint triggers, find lasting coping mechanisms and see what works, and what doesn’t work, when you get overwhelmed.
It’s like having a 1-on-1 conversation with your anxiety!
Anxiety can be strong, but you are stronger
Anxiety is an awful experience, even for those who don’t suffer from it regularly.
No matter how overwhelmed you are feeling by your anxiety, remember that you have the power to control and direct it into whichever way you like.
It just takes some practice.
All of these tips in this post have personally benefited me in such huge ways, and I am sure they will do the same for you.
Remember that anxiety does not have a quick fix, it takes time and effort to see long-term changes. You can, and will, get there!
Just keep putting things into place regularly and then one day you will wake up and realise you haven’t had an overwhelming anxiety attack in a few weeks.
You’ve got this!