Photo of a cup and saucer sitting on top of a blanket

Anxiety sucks.

If you don’t suffer from anxiety it can be hard to understand just how bad it feels.

You know when you feel really nervous before an interview or something big? Now imagine feeling like that all the time, about everything. That’s anxiety. Rubbish right?

Today is World Mental Health Day, and we’re told “it’s ok not to be ok”. While I wholeheartedly believe this and that we should be able to talk about our mental health, I’m not really that comfortable talking about mine. It wasn’t until this year that I actually realised I had anxiety, I just thought I was a “worrier”. Now I’ve realised it’s not just worrying it’s a lot easier to recognise when I’m feeling anxious and do something about it. So here are some of the things that help me (note, these things help me, it doesn’t mean they’ll work for you).

1. Cut down on caffeine

Earlier this year I decided to drink less coffee. It wasn’t actually anything to do with anxiety initially but it has helped me to stay a bit calmer. Caffeine stimulates your “fight or flight” response, not good for people with anxiety. I didn’t go cold turkey and completely cut coffee out altogether but I limit myself to one cup a day. It sucked to start with, and I felt soooo tired, but after a couple of weeks, I got used to it.

2. Exercise

For me, exercise really helps me de-stress if I’ve had a tough day. A run is a great way to switch off and clear your head, I don’t really think about much when I’m running – probably about the only time I don’t have a million thoughts running through my head! If running isn’t your thing, then even just getting outside for a walk can help.

3. Take time to do something that relaxes you

Everyone has their thing that helps them chill out. I love a bath with a Lush bubble bar and either a good book or a Netflix binge. Or curling up under a blanket with a cup of tea (normally decaf) and a book. Find your thing and do it, it also helps if you put away your phone.

4. Talk to a counsellor

Earlier this year I went to counselling. I would highly recommend this to everyone. Everyone should go to counselling at some point in their life. We spoke about things that make me anxious and focused on particular incidences when my anxiety was bad. He encouraged me to talk through how I felt and we used CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) to help me with coping strategies. For me, it was easier to talk to a counsellor than someone I know. I feel pretty embarrassed when my anxiety gets the better of me, and I don’t really want to talk to my friends or Mark about how it’s stopped me doing something.

5. Get more sleep

I love to sleep. And I don’t function all that well if I’ve not had much. Getting more shut-eye definitely helps me feel less anxious. Having a night time routine also helps, spend some time reading in bed before you turn the light out. And put away your phone.

What helps you with your anxiety?

The name Kayleigh written in pink cursive font.