I want to share with you the way I described my mental state two years ago.
“Sometimes my anxiety gets so bad it feels like there’s a fire alarm going off in my system and it’s not gonna stop. It keeps going. I don’t think it will ever fully go away, at least in some cases anxiety is a normal part of life. For me it hasn’t been anything normal for a long time. At times I can feel my chest aching. My heart actually hurts, not in a heartbreak kinda way but in a possible heart attack kinda way. It scares me. Sometimes my heart is pumping so fast and loud that I’m afraid. Especially when I’m going to sleep I start thinking about stuff and my heart hates it, and I know I can’t sleep with stress and a high pulse.”
I feel sad for the girl I was back then. My heart goes out to each and every one of you reading this who’s suffering from such severe anxiety that it has taken control over your life. I know so well how it feels like, but have come a long way from that and I felt like I should share my tips on how to feel a bit better when you can feel the anxiety storming inside your head and you feel like there’s no escape. These things gave me some relief and I hope these are helpful for you too.
1. Bring back your childhood
Everything that reminds me of my happy childhood memories and much simpler times when I wasn’t overthinking, makes me smile and calms my nerves automatically. You just can’t be stressful when you’re thinking about Disney movies, or any animations at all, blowing soap bubbles, playing a card game or swinging outside.
Very energetic songs that have powerful lyrics can help anxiety. When I listen to my power singers or songs, like Whitney Houston’s When You Believe, I realize I got this, and these feelings won’t beat me. They might get me down, but I can still rise back up and do great things. Playing an instrument can help too, especially piano or listening to piano music. My favourite one is Yiruma’s River Flows In You.
3. Motivational speeches
Words have so much power. There are so many motivational speeches that are all about rising from the ashes stronger than ever. I’ve never felt like a loser after I’ve listened to a great motivational, inspirational speech, like one from Les Brown. It makes you think in another way. Youtube is full of great videos but motivational books can help A LOT too.
Writing about anything that I have on my mind clears my head. I write blog posts, poems, song lyrics, lists, things about my day. In English or Finnish, whatever I feel like. Being creative in any way is great, it makes me feel accomplished and proud of myself when I know I just nailed a poem or a song. Misery can be used as a great source of creativity.
5. Being creative but in a more active way
Painting, drawing, cooking, do-it-yourself-projects, designing something, photography, even just editing photos or videos. It takes the mind off of what’s bugging me and lets me express myself, again leaves me feeling like I’ve achieved something nice today by myself. It’s awesome.
This one (below) for example, was inspired by my feelings of anger and anxiety seeing people harm animals, not seeing them as equal and worthy as they are, living, breathing beings on this planet. It just shows that you can create beautiful things out of your difficult feelings.
When I really need to get negativity out of my system, I do HIIT aka high intensity interval training. I jump, run, kick, punch and crunch and feel like shit while doing it until I’ve given my all, and feel so much better afterwards. It makes me feel strong. Whatever is pushing me to the ground, I’m pushing back even harder because I’m strong, I’ve got some fucking strength in this body and mind and if I can tackle awfully hard hiit-workouts then I can tackle anything. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes good ol’ relaxing walks and runs outside are much needed to get thoughts in order. Whatever my anxiety levels demand that day. And sometimes I don’t want to move anywhere, and that’s okay too.
7. Peaceful meditation
Meditation means simply concentrating on the moment. I lay on my back on the floor, put on some alpha waves 432hz music from Youtube and try to give up thinking so much. Life will go on whatever happens and no matter how hard the bad times in this life are, they are not here to stay. Living in this moment is so important.
This always helps me. Anxiety cannot co-exist with gratitude. I list my five things that I’m grateful for today, or any things that bring me joy in my life. I realize how much good there is and how even darker clouds have a silver lining. I try to look at things differently, and how even my shittiest experiences had something to teach me. I understand that everything happens for a reason.
Why would I waste my time dwelling on the bad things when there’s so much love in my life? The sunrise in the mornings, a cup of tea with my favourite oat milk, a page of pretty drawings that took only 20 tries and 2 hours to create, my plants that I can take care of. It takes practise, but that is my superpower. Being grateful obviously doesn’t solve all problems but most of them. Everyone should practise gratitude everyday.
Everyone has their own relationship with spirituality and no one shall judge others for what brings relief to them. I believe in angels that protect us, and I often pick angel cards when I’m feeling lost. Those cards magically make me feel alive again, I feel so loved and guided, like everything is going to be okay. I’ve cried so many times for it, and it always feels like a huge weight is removed from my shoulders.
There are so many wise quotes in this world, and whenever I see a quote that hits me, it’s healing. It helps to realize that other people are going through this too. There have been times when I’ve counted only on them and screenshotted everything that lifted me up. It’s so important to be surrounded by healing words whenever you feel like drowning. It’s like a sunray that sparkles on the surface, gives you another perspective on things.
11. Going back to your roots.
Nature is a great way to forget anxiety. Spending time in the forest listening to the wind or birds singing, or on a beach, looking at waves, enjoying the warmth of the sun, feet in the sand… Is there anything more relaxing? Just any nature sounds are great, if I can’t go outside, I put on a nature sounds- Youtube video, close my eyes and let my imagination take me away. Also looking at animals or even connecting with them, petting a cat or a dog makes the heart sing.
Nature documentaries especially make you realize that we’re all the same: we may look different, but we’re all the same with our basic needs. You realize how small you are in this world and how in the end, it only matters that you have something to eat and drink, a safe place to live and others around you that care. The world is so beautiful, it has its own circle of life, everyone has very little time here so better make the best of it.
12. Check your blood
If you’ve been feeling low and can’t really understand why, there’s a chance that you’re lacking some vitamins. Taking B12, iron and D-vitamin helped me so much and could help you too. Get your blood tested to make sure you have no nutrient deficiencies. I consider this perhaps the most important thing to do, because if the issue is in your blood, any amount of meditation or therapy won’t fix the problem.
13. Keep it simple
Breathe. In the end, living is really very simple: breathing in and out, again and again. I know if I can just do that, I can survive whatever comes.
And just remember…
You might feel like you are alone but you are not. Remember that you never know what people around you are going through, so be kind. I’m always the one smiling and making jokes, excited about stuff and encouraging others but it doesn’t mean I’m not struggling sometimes. (It doesn’t mean I’m fake either). It doesn’t mean you are not struggling. And it’s okay. You don’t have to be severely depressed to get help or admit that you are not feeling well mentally.
Everyone has their own ways to feel better and it doesn’t have to include professionals if you don’t want to. But if you are struggling, make sure you have some kind of outlet to get that out of your system for a moment at least, using some of my tips for example.
Don’t forget to ask others how they’re doing as well. Let’s look after each other.