Anxiety is a jerk of a thing, isn’t it? It can make you question EVERYTHING, leaving you in a state of panic and fear. It causes unwanted and unneeded stress that negatively impact your entire life.
Seriously, anxiety, you suck balls. And it’s time you go away.
We all have anxiety for different reasons. Many can pinpoint the ‘triggers’. Many cannot. Some people don’t know what’s wrong, why they feel anxious, what they are worried about. They just are. They can’t explain it. And if they can’t pinpoint the problem, then it’s pretty freakin’ hard to solve the problem.
And thus, anxiety lives to see another day. And another sleepless night.
When it’s more than just worry
Like one in five people, I live with anxiety. He crops up whenever he feels like it, burns a hole through my brain and then disappears, only to return again another day. Or night.
Anxiety is the most common mental illness in Australia. While it’s nice to know you’re not alone, this stat doesn’t really help stop anxiety from invading your brain.
So what can you do to stop anxiety?
There is no be-all-end-all cure. Well, there’s Valium. But apparently, Valium isn’t all that good for you, especially if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Or, if you generally don’t want to rely on an addictive prescription medication forever.
Counselling can be heaps helpful for many. However, it can also be hard to commit to, especially if you are a busy mum with children clinging to your legs most of the time. Most psychologists look down on the whole Bring Your Own Baby concept.
There are heaps of self-care programs to combat anxiety. A lot of plans require you to eliminate sugar, salt, caffeine and alcohol (so, basically, my entire diet).
In my recent quest to eliminate anxiety, I’ve come across a few super strange tactics that actually kind of work. They might not work for everyone, I know. Many people will probably read this, scoff and then leave a rude comment on Facebook about it (thanks in advance for that, by the way).
But, hey, if these silly ideas stop one mum from pacing the kitchen at 2am, then I’m happy. So, the next time you feel a panic attack or anxiety attack coming on, try:
Not just for blocking out your husband’s snoring! Earplugs actually help block out the crazy thoughts in your mind too. Well, they do for me at least.
2. A stress ball
You know those balloons filled with flour from our childhood? Make one (or five because the kids are going to want one too) and place it beside your bed. Anytime I can’t sleep, I reach for the stress ball. The softness of the ball is somehow soothing and allows me to focus my energy on the weird texture rather than on the 1500 tasks that I should have done yesterday.
3. Something warm
Running a hot bath can help, but this isn’t always possible, especially when the entire house is asleep. Buy a hot water bottle or one of those magic bean bags you heat up in the microwave. Put in on your back, your stomach, your heart, your neck, anywhere you want really. Somehow the heat seems to help calm the nerves and, again, gives you a new sensation to focus on. I normally put it on my chest and it immediately slows down my rapid breathing.
4. This song
It’s supposed to be the most calming song in the entire world, proven to not only put babies to sleep, but also help adults with anxiety. It’s eight minutes long but it’s worth a shot.
5. Counting super slowly
Taking slow deep breaths is a trick most people with anxiety know. But you can also try counting. Like super duper slowly. Focus on each number and nothing else. This can stop your brain stop from overthinking. It can take some serious convincing to tell your brain to SHUT UP and just count, but, it might work some nights.
6. Writing it down
No phones. No lights even. Sometimes when I start writing my thoughts or to-do lists at 3am, my mind goes into crazy-lady overload. But other times writing things down does help. Just be sure to keep the lights off and use paper instead of your iPhone Notes section. Once the phone goes on, your brain never shuts off.
7. Wrapping yourself up
You know how babies are swaddled to help them sleep? And you know how dogs where those weird-looking Thundershirts to calm their anxiety? Well, perhaps this whole “wrapping” thing could also help adults with anxiety.
This is another super stupid notion that I never thought would actually work but actually does (sometimes), especially if you’re in the midst of a panic attack (those are always fun). Roll yourself into a blanket burrito and curl up super tight until you are able to gain control of your breathing and the panic stops.
Hey, it beats breathing into a paper bag, right?
These ideas are not going to work on everyone. And they are not part of a self-help program or endorsed by a medical professional in any way, shape or form. They are just tricks I want to pass along. I figure, if these strange solutions work for me, they might just work for other mums too.
For more ways to manage anxiety, have a look at our previous article on how to deal with anxiety and panic attacks.