So, last week I finally worked up the courage to share my story and the scrabble set which is my anxious mind, and I am really glad that I have. Although I was anxious (the irony) about putting myself under the spotlight and opening myself up to the possibility of scrutiny, I have received so much support, words of encouragement and thank yous, that I honestly feel that I have done the right thing. While Kendall Jenner might be the face of Estee Lauder, Ella Woodward of vegan food -even though it’s far less glamorous and nowhere near as lucrative – I guess I can be one of the many voices of anxiety.
In the last week alone I have felt the freest I have felt in a long time, having finally come out of the anxiety closet. Now that my story is online, floating around in cyberspace, it can’t really be taken back, which is a seriously scary thought. But it’s also encouraging me to carry on with this conversation and to at least try to make a positive contribution to it now that my friends and followers know about a part of me I once tried my best to paint over.
Therefore, I have decided to make this second post a little more positive and proactive. As most people who suffer from anxiety know, it can be difficult to enjoy or appreciate the present moment because you are fretting about the past or worrying about tomorrow. I kid myself into thinking I will master the art of mindfulness if only I win a 5* trip to Copenhagen, believing I will feel calmer when I lose weight or when I get that dream job. But the truth is, anxiety doesn’t wait for pay day or planes, for pounds to be shed or for you to achieve personal goals.
Now I’m not professing to be an expert. By no means am I the guru of getting rid of anxious thoughts and banishing bad mindsets. If I had all the answers, a magic potion, a perfect plan to paralyze the pain and panic, I’d have been given my own talk show by now, released my own weight loss DVD and would probably own a canal-side penthouse in Denmark. So, until I find them, here are a few fail-safe tips that almost always help me to freeze ‘the fear’.
Whether you believe in Chinese medicine or think it’s complete rubbish, you can’t deny the relaxing properties of having a massage. When I step into the treatment room I instantly feel calmer listening to the yoga retreat-eque music and inhaling the scents of aromatherapy oils. For that brief 40 minute slot I am as close to calm as I can get and often feel happier and more at ease for the rest of the day. And at the risk of plagarising an ancient Chinese proverb, I am still going to say that I am a firm believer that a relaxed body really does go a long way to achieving a relaxed mind. Whether it’s the perfect fix or complete rubbish, I’m sticking to this philosophy.
2. A trip to the seaside
It wasn’t until I moved to England to study History at The University of Reading that I really began to appreciate the natural beauty that Wales has to offer. For most of my childhood I took the beaches on my doorstep for granted. I spent hours upon end building sandcastles, soaking my sandy feet in the sea and sneaking my childhood dog into our regular ice-cream parlour on seaside adventures with my grandparents. I assumed everyone’s weekends were spent in the same idyllic way. Then, one of my university friends told me that she had never been to a British beach. I realised just how lucky I had been and that these family days out, with salty hair, holding my grandfather’s hand were where I was happiest. Whether it’s the sea air or the currents of nostalgia, a stroll around Langland Bay or a day trip to Saundersfoot normally does the trick.
3. A classic movie
I’m a massive film lover and have a floor-to-ceiling DVD wall at home to prove it. Like most children I grew up on Disney films, but with a less conventional mix of James Bond and 80s action classics thrown into the mix. If I’m feeling particularly tense or anxious, my sister always knows that transforming my bedroom into a cinema for the day will do well at the ‘better mood’ box office. Some of the movies guaranteed to banish the blues are The Princess Diaries, Overboard,Tangled, Letters to Juliet or Back to the Future. I’m not sure what the common link is between these greats, but it’s likely to be a winner if it involves Julie Andrews, a child named Roy, a musical number with frying pans or floating lanterns, a pretentious Englishman who turns out to have a heart of gold or a flying DeLorean.
What are some of your go-to anxiety busters?