Saturday, 28 January 2017

4 Tried and Tested Ways to Reduce Anxiety

My anxiety hates me. It hates me being calm and rational and making measured decisions. It hates me driving in busy places, and it truly despises me entering any supermarket or store that is capable of housing more than a dozen people at any given time.  

My anxiety also likes to keep me awake and loves nothing more than questioning my every move and utterance until I literally stop talking in an attempt to escape.  Of course, what happens then is that I'm guaranteed to then be spoken of as 'rude' or, as happened lately, 'of that demeanour'.  I'm not entirely sure what this means, but I'm guessing it isn't good. 

When I stop saying much, it's not about you.  Mostly, it's got absolutely nothing to do with anyone. Except me, of course, but I don't expect anyone to get that.  I mostly don't even really care whether people do or not any more; I just want the noise in my head to stop. 

Over the past few weeks, things have been pretty difficult with health issues for me, upheaval at home, and a pretty traumatic time for one of my dearest family members.   This has heightened my anxiety and pretty much dominated my every waking moment for the past month.  This isn't my first time on this particular merry go round, so I have a few teeny ways of coping (I say 'coping'; you may say 'avoiding', but let's call the whole thing off...)

There's a host of free app-store games that can be seriously distracting
App Store Games:
I downloaded a game from the App Store on a flight back from Philly back in September in order to stave off immense boredom and stop me from attempting to murder the child in the aisle seat next to me.  It ended up keeping me amused for hours and I refused to delete when I got home.  Instead, I'm still playing it. Usually, when I get really anxious, I try to read or watch TV, but I often find I don't follow anything or anything I do watch has horribly anxious people in it.

What anxious people don't need is other anxious people. That's why there's no common terminology for a group of anxiety-ridden folks.  We rarely all get together because can you imagine?? 

What anxious people need is distraction, and  I've found that tending a farm is a mindless and strangely relaxing experience.  What I would say, though, is this: please don't download a game that involves you having to do anything against the clock.  I once tried to be an imaginary air traffic controller and it did NOT go well.   

Audible: 
I've written about my reliance on Amazon's audio-book app on several occasions.  Why they don't have me as their Official Ambassador is a question I often ponder to myself.  Anyway, I find it almost impossible to sleep without having an audio book chatting to me on my pillow.  I've been using the app since 2010 and it's been a bit of a lifesaver, to be honest.

Nothing distracts me more than listening to the story of someone being gruesomely hacked to death in bed in a rural farmhouse in the middle of nowhere while I lie in bed in my rural farmhouse in the middle of nowhere.  It's truly amazing how it can divert your attention. 

I promise I'll get up soon.  Just five more minutes...
Sleeping:
OK, so it can be difficult to get there, and even more difficult to stay there, but there's nothing quite like completely switching off to distract you from, well...everything.  It's difficult to worry when you're sleeping and this is a wonderful thing for someone whose every waking moment is filled with panic.

While this might be the epitomy of avoidance, it has its benefits.  You may well wake up as anxious as you were before you nodded off but, hey, at least you now have fewer hours to get through before bed time, right? 

Singing:
It remains my favourite thing in the world.  Nothing calms me down more than belting out some country tunes in my car or when I'm home alone.   The more anxious I am, the louder my music is and the more I screech. 

I find this very useful. It's almost impossible to concentrate on anything else when you're pretending to be Miranda Lambert, winning a Grammy for your extremely loud performance of 'Gunpowder and Lead'.  Honestly.  Try it and you'll see what I mean.

All I will say is this: Patsy Cline is *not* the artist to listen to you when you're trying to de-stress.  You have to pick something marginally upbeat or it won't work and your husband will come home in the evening to find you howling helplessly in the corner wailing about how cruel life can be when you're in love with the wrong man and you 'aint got no money to pay the rent. 

Do you have any tips or tricks for reducing anxiety?

Suz x


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