Sometimes reducing anxious thoughts can seem like such a big hurdle to overcome and at times it can be. Doing the little things which take a while to become effective can feel pointless. Giving in to the anxiety monster’s whispers in your ear can seem like the easiest option. But this usually makes it get louder and bigger.
I’ve learnt that I need to be patient and understand it can take a while for my anxiety to quieten. But I keep reminding myself that putting in the work is worth it and will eventually pay off. While anxiety doesn’t ever fully go away, there are big changes you can make to lower your anxiety levels such as going to therapy and exercising regularly. However, these are some of the little things I’ve been doing on a day-to-day basis to keep my anxiety from escalating.
The Happy Newspaper
When my mind is filled with negative thoughts, the last thing I needs is to be exposed to more negativity, which is unfortunately what most of the tabloids are filled with. This is particularly difficult during this coronavirus pandemic. While it’s important to keep up-to-date, remaining calm at the same time feels impossible when most news stories are sensationalised. I’m still figuring this out but for now, I’m trying to only check the news once a day and only read from reputable publications I trust.
But in general, I’ve been turning to The Happy Newspaper to read about the positive happenings from around the world as this helps put my mind at ease.
I find reading in general particularly helpful for reducing my anxiety and even setting aside just 10 minutes a day to read joyful stories can make a big difference to my mood.
Reducing screen time
Mindlessly scrolling on social media has been a habit of mine for years. Like most phone-users, I’d check Twitter and Instagram as soon as I woke up, before I went to bed and while I was watching films. But without even realising it, this was making my anxiety worse.
It would disrupt my sleep and concentration levels, making it difficult to relax. The flurry of negative trending stories and viral posts would also heighten my worries. So, once I became aware of this, I decided to reduce my digital time.
I’ve activated a really great setting on my phone called ‘digital balance’ which notifies me when I’ve gone over my chosen daily screen time of 2 hours. At 10pm, when I like to wind-down before sleeping, it turns on the ‘bedtime screen time management’, which makes the screen grey and prohibits access to certain apps. If I decide I want more time that day, I can amend it and also allow ‘unrestricted time’ to certain apps. So far, I’ve found this really useful. Although I have full control over it, I rarely amend it because it reminds me that too much screen time is bad for my mind.
As an extra precaution, I’ve uninstalled Twitter and Facebook off my phone, which I find to be the most negative apps. I still have my accounts so I can log on a desktop or through Chrome if I want to in the future. I’ve also ensured my Instagram feed is filled with positive and inspiring people.
Not being afraid to say ‘no’ to social invites
There have been a few instances lately where my mind has just not been in the right place to socialise. But when I’ve decided to just go anyway, in the hopes I could shake off the anxiety once I was there, it made it so much worse. Being in a bar is the last thing I need when I’m anxious. So I’ve realised I need to start saying no more to social invites and that it’s okay to do so.
Staying at home to look after yourself is way more important. There will always be more social situations in the future that you can join in on when you’ll actually enjoy it. The people that matter will understand if you have to miss a few.
Anxiety can sometimes act like an overexcited puppy. If you pay it attention, it just gets louder and more excited. This is what happens when you listen to and feed your anxious thoughts. Sometimes I try to mentally bat it away, which may or may not work. If it’s too loud, there are certain techniques you can try.
Take your thought and ask yourself if it’s…
More often than not you’ll find the thoughts aren’t any of those things. I can find it hard to determine if they’re true or important when my mind is playing tricks on me, so I mostly focus on whether it’s helpful, necessary or kind.
Instead of trying to fight the anxiety or ‘solve’ it, just acknowledge that it’s there. It can feel so helpless to just sit in anxiety but unfortunately, it’s the more productive option. The more you try to ‘find the answer’ to whatever questions your anxiety is throwing at you, the more questions appear.
Watching ‘comfort blanket’ TV shows
As a TV lover and film-buff, this is often where I turn to when I need cheering up. When my mind is a bit too fragile to watch anything with dark or complicated themes, re-watching funny sitcoms is great for providing a bit of distraction to relax my mind. Brooklyn 99, Parks and recreation, Friends and How I Met Your Mother are some of my favourites.
None of these are magical cures for anxiety, as unfortunately there isn’t one. But there are ways to manage it. These techniques help prevent my anxious thoughts from getting stronger. While they may work for me, they may or may not work for you but it’s worth giving them a try. To make bigger steps and improvement, consider what else you need and whether you need to speak with a medical professional.