Disclaimer: Everyone’s struggles will vary which therefore means some of these things may not be achievable for some and some may also not benefit from these tips. This is based solely on my own personal experience.
This morning I woke up in a pool of my own sweat, trembling, with a tight chest and a heavy head. I’d had next to no sleep as a result of waking up countless times in such a way and being unable to let my mind calm enough to fall back afterwards. This isn’t abnormal for me but nor is it normal. I have ok days, good days, mixed days, bad days and worse days. Today was a bad day. BUT I’ve managed to push that into more of a mixed days with a few self-help tips and I thought I’d share those with you on the off chance they can help anyone out there – in no ways are these solutions but they help me manage things better and find a little relief on days where there isn’t much calm.
- Open the windows. I was lucky enough to be able to reach mine from my bed this morning and honestly, the breeze helped cool me down almost instantly and the air just generally made me feel a little more connected to the world. I suggest just sitting there, eyes closed, feeling the breeze for a good few minutes. This will also be super helpful if you have any of those annoying side effects of anxiety such as nausea and headaches.
- Change your underwear. To some people, the fact I have to really drag myself to do this or am suggesting this may be disgusting or absurd but on bad days the idea of even rolling over in bed is a challenge. I suggest this not just to make you feel a little bit better and to give you an achievement of the day to be proud of (although just getting through those bad days is enough) but because – especially for those of us with vaginas – it is really quite important for our health.
- Calming music. I use an app called ‘relax melodies’ (I think Zoella has mentioned it before also?) that allows you to pick nature sounds to listen to – waterfall and flute are my favourite pairing. I find I feel very ‘out of it’ and disconnected on my bad days so not only do I find this calms my breathing but it helps bring me back to nature and the world.
- Showers. If I can bring myself to make it to the shower there is no doubt I’ll be there for a good half hour. It seems to be possibly the best thing for me and I always leave with a steadier heart rate and a clearer mind. (Also a cheeky lush shower gel or shower jelly never goes amiss!)
- Positive quotes. I have a range of books with good thoughts and good quotes and as cliche as they may be I always find they can at least put a half smile on my face.
- Avoiding caffeine. This is a big one I have to remember to do as I am rather inclined to a cup of tea – or 5 – which in the long run is very unhelpful. The additional energy can set me straight back to a bad day no matter how much progress I’ve made trying other things.
- Eating/Drinking. This is a MUST – your body will naturally use more energy and be more dehydrated on days you are more anxious and as nauseous as you may be you must fuel your body. Typically I’ll have plain(ish) foods throughout the day, lots of no caffeine fruit teas, squash, soup, fruit juice and I’ll always try to end the day on a nourishing meal. Today I’m having a vegetable pasta with cheese to ensure I’ve got the vitamins and minerals from the veg, the carbs from the pasta and the veg and some added protein from the cheese.. DELISH!
- Texting/Online Support. I am blessed with some unbelievably supportive friends which allows me to reach out on my bad days and get some lovely, encouraging responses back which will make me feel less alone even if nothing else. I am however aware that some people may not be blessed in the same way and also may not feel comfortable reaching out to people they know personally so I suggest online chat rooms and numbers such as Childline and the Samaritans.
- And finally… colouring! I just find it keeps my hands busy and my brain a bit more active and even if I only colour part of it I feel a sense of achievement
I hope you’re all okay and please if you’re struggling feel free to comment (I will message you back!), reach out online and in real life and please know things do get easier.
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And if you’re at the University of Sussex please don’t hesitate to call security and ask for the welfare team, visit welfare at the SU or take a peek at these pages, HERE and HERE.