“The best use of imagination is creativity. The worst use of imagination is anxiety”
I know what brought my anxiety on, and can pinpoint exactly when it started. Worrying about money, burying my head in the sand instead of facing my debt, and little by little the doubts and negative thoughts started to creep in. I’d lay in bed at night unable to sleep thinking “What will I do if something bad happens?” and play out situations in my head. People getting hurt, or me losing somebody I love. Trying to work out how I would cope with any sort of emotional trauma. Before I knew it, these thoughts had turned into episodes during the day where I felt like I just could not take a deep breath. It was almost like something was crushing my chest. A concrete block, or a bloody elephant. Then, I’d have dizzy spells and feel as if I was in a dream… or just that I was going faint/to stop breathing all together!
Next came the panic attacks. I remember collapsing on our bathroom floor once, feeling like I was going to be sick. I couldn’t see or breathe, my head was fuzzy. The fear was so intense, but I just couldn’t tell you what I was scared of. It’s crazy how one life experience can turn into an array of negative thoughts, and how much those thoughts can spiral out of control and morph into the monster that we know commonly as ‘anxiety.’
I’m writing this post because over the last couple of years I’ve worked hard on finding coping methods that don’t involve taking any medication. That’s not to say that medication is wrong – everybody is different and needs to focus on what works for them… and you can only figure that out by trying. However, there are natural methods out there and I thought I’d share my experience of what has helped me, in the hope that it can help somebody else. I don’t believe that you can ever really cure anxiety – but what you can do (with practice and lots of trial and error) is manage it.
In a hot bath, on your pillow before bed, or even a dab on your neck and wrist. When I was travelling a lot last year, the crushing feeling in my chest was back with a vengeance. Sometimes, I’d even unscrew the cap of the bottle and just smell it. You do get some funny looks, but I found the smell of lavender really calmed me. Using it on my pillow helped me drop off to sleep, and left the negative thoughts less time to worm their way into my head!
I read ‘The Secret’ for the first time in October 2017. If you haven’t read this book, I urge you to. Whether you believe in the law of attraction or not, the message behind every page of Rhonda Byrne’s book is pretty powerful. Thoughts multiply faster than we can possibly imagine. How often have you got out of bed feeling like crap, and everything just goes wrong for you that day. It gets progressively worse the more you think about how rubbish you’re feeling. You might spill your tea, or stub your toe… then you’ll hit a huge traffic jam on the way to work. Coincidence? Or are you so focused on how awful you’re feeling that you’re subconsciously attracting even more negativity? If you’re thinking about how anxious you are, or how worried you are… you are only attracting more anxiety and more worry. Believe me. In the book, she talks about having frequency shifters ready in your mind for when a bad thought rolls up. Something that can instantly make you happy, like a funny memory, or your favourite song. Have these ready and use it to bat off thought by thought.
There’s no phrase more empowering than ‘I am’. Grab a notepad and write down a counter to all of your fears and worries. If you constantly think “I’m in so much debt, and I never have any money” write “I am making progress with clearing my debt every day, and money flows into my life easily”
If you constantly think “I’m never going to be happy, or get rid of these feelings” write down “I have a choice to be happy. Today, I choose to be happy”. Even if you don’t feel like it at the time, writing this down and reading it back to yourself when you need to only reinforces the statement in your head.
Gratitude is another important tool to have handy when the anxious thoughts and feelings rear their ugly head. Writing down 3 things you’re grateful for in that moment, on a piece of paper, in your phone… or even just thinking of them in your head. This helped me tonnes, and I made a habit of turning every worry into me thinking about how grateful I am for that person, or that situation.
Like I said before, these tips won’t work for everyone, but I think it’s important to give them a chance. Listening to one positive audio book, or reading one book isn’t going to make your negative thoughts miraculously disappear. Helping yourself is a commitment, and sometimes it feels like it would be easier to just wallow in the worry instead. It takes a lot of effort and energy.
But do you know what else takes a lot of effort and energy? Feeling bad!
We’re blessed with choices, so choose yourself, your health and your happiness.