Did you know that 10% of the UK population suffer with anxiety, putting it at the top, along with depression, as the most common mental illness? This means that everyone will come into contact with it at some point during their life and with the Christmas season underway the pressure seems to rise.
We are here you help you focus on the positives with our A-Z list of coping strategies. These are desgined to distract your brain from your worries making each day a little bit easier.
Grabbing your pet and giving them a good squeeze is always a great reminder of unconditional loveas it has been suggested that oxytocin is involved in human–pet bonding.
Don’t have a pet? The internet is full of cute animal videos that are known to crack even the hardest of nuts with a smile.
DISCLAIMER- We strongly discourage hugging any pets that are deemed dangerous e.g snakes.
Chosen exercise – Aqua
When you begin to feel yourself tensing up and panic starts looming over, the easiest most effective coping strategy is to breathe. Indulge your body with oxygen by deep breathing. People who are anxious tend to breathe in their upper lungs (upper chest) with shallow, rapid breaths, instead of breathing into their lower lungs (lower chest).
Remember in through the nose out through the mouth. If you own a smart phone it might be helpful to download an app such as Headspace or Insight Timer.
Chosen exercise – Body Balance
Avoid bottling up any frustrations or emotions. Communication is key for relationships and for help. Being honest & open will help people understand your thoughts and feelings and may help them help you.
Chosen exercise – Cycling
You will often hear that what you eat can affect your hormones and body. Here are a few tips to change your diet into a healthier one. Eat regularly, if your blood sugar drops you can feel tired, irritable or depressed. Eat more protein, not only does it slowly release energy throughout the day but protein also contains amino acids, which make up the chemicals your brain needs to regulate your thoughts and feelings. Keep hydrated to boost concentration and stay away from caffeine!!
Chosen exercise – Dance
We cannot tell you enough how great exercising is for your well-being. Exercising allows you to create goals and reach realistic targets. Plus it means you don’t have to feel so guilty for giving into to a bit of chocolate when times are getting tough. BONUS CHALLENGE – To keep you active why not see how many chosen exercises on this list you can try.
Chosen exercise – Equestrian sports
Surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good is the best thing you can do when you are feeling down. Friends can be there to listen, distract and empathise.
Chosen exercise – Football
When you are feeling particularly down about a situation list down all of the things you are grateful to have, even if it starts with your toes to a warm bed at night. “Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have”.
Chosen exercise – Golf
Laughter is the best medicine. Need we say more?
Chosen exercise – HIIT
If you are feeling anxious about a certain situation allow yourself to imagine how you would like it to turn out. Imagine yourself waking up that morning, what clothes you will be wearing, what you’ll eat for breakfast, who you will see along the way, what will you talk about? If you train your brain into thinking it has already encountered a situation, you are less likely to be fearful of the unknown.
Chosen exercise – Ice Skating
J- Join in
Sometimes you feel like you are forcing yourself to do certain things. Staying in your PJs and putting off a nice meal out with friends may sound most appealing but sometimes it’s good to join in and put yourself in an uncomfortable situation. If you have followed C & F above, chances are your friends will make sure you have a great time!
Chosen exercise – Jogging
“Give a little love and it all comes back to you”. Being kind to others will make you feel good in return. A simple smile or holding a door for a stranger will give you the warm fuzzies. Take a look at Random Acts of Kindness to see how you can make a start today.
Chosen exercise –Kettlebells
All of these strategies are distraction techniques and a great way to distract yourself is learning something new. Maybe you can learn how to fix that broken table leg or learn how to knit (future Christmas presents will be much cheaper when it’s balls of wool!). Learning a new skill is great for your moral.
Chosen exercise – Lunges
Music can work wonders when your brain is a tornado of thoughts. Create a playlist full of music that you enjoy listening to. Maybe add a mixture of nostalgic songs from your past and some more recent feel good songs. When you feel an anxiety attack coming on plug yourself in and listen to each instrument separately. Once all your focus is on that one sound your worries should just float away.
Chosen exercise – Meditation
N- Nurturing yourself
You’re allowed to treat yourself every so often so never feel guilty about focusing time to yourself.
Chosen exercise – Nordic Walking
O- Over coming fears
We’re not talking “I’m a Celeb” kinda stuff – the simple stuff like walking to the shops on your own can be a massive anxiety fear. Just take a deep breath…
Chosen exercise – Orienteering
Instead of listing down the pros and cons of a situation write down just the pros. If you’re suffering with anxiety you may find that you’re already listing all the negatives in your head. Let’s put them aside and see what great things can come out of a situation.
Chosen exercise – Pilates
Q- Quality time
Spend time with the people, animals, things you love and make memories that will last.
Chosen exercise – Quad stretch
R- Realistic / Reflect / Relax
Be realistic to yourself. Ask yourself what is the worst thing that can happen? Are you catastrophising a situation? Take yourself out of the situation and think “What would I tell my friend if they had this problem?”
Chosen exercise – Rowing
It’s okay to seek professional support. There are a variety of treatments available from therapy to life-coaching. You can even visit your GP who will work with you to determine the best course of treatment.
Chosen exercise – Swimming
When your mind is stressed so is your body. Having a massage every so often will help those tense muscles making you feel relaxed, mentally and physically.
Chosen exercise – Tennis
Understand that everyone at some point goes through a little blip and the more you are open and honest about how you are feeling it may surprise you to find that others feel the same.
Chosen exercise – Under water diving
Going hand in hand with talking to someone, sometimes we just need to moan, be listened to and comforted. If something has really been playing on your mind venting it to someone else may help lift the situation off your shoulders. You may also get another opinion, which is always useful when you are over-dramatising.
Chosen exercise- V Sits
W- Write it down
Keeping a diary is great to get your thoughts down especially as there is no risk of judgement. Starting such things as a worry diary can really clear your headspace.
Chosen exercise – Weights
X- Expressing yourself
Don’t let anxiety define you. Be who you want to be and accept who you are.
Chosen exercise – Xtreme Sports
No one has the power to make you happier as much as you do. Focus on something that you want to do and reach for the goals that you want to achieve. You can control your anxiety better than anyone else can.
Chosen exercise- Yoga
When times get tough sleeping may be the only answer. The human body needs a chance to rest and repair itself after a long and stressful day so try and collect as many Zzz’s as possible.
Chosen exercise – Zumba
For more information on anxiety or any other mental illness’ visit Mind.