Waking up at 6am everyday I find myself immediately reaching for my phone to do one of three things; checking how many emails I’ve received whilst I indulged myself in broken and restless sleep, going through my Instagram accounts to check the engagement of my posts or checking my various messenger apps. Sound unhealthy? It sure is and up until recently, I never realized how bad my habits truly were until I suffered a mild anxiety attack during my trip to Hong Kong in February. Anxiety is a word that gets thrown around a lot in conversations but how often do we really acknowledge what it can really do to your psyche.
It never occurred to me how debilitating the effects of anxiety were until I found myself alone in my best friend’s apartment, in the middle of Hong Kong with no close relatives or friends to call on (my best friend was out of town and my partner back home in Sydney) and barely able to gasp for air let alone will myself to get out of bed.
Waves of extreme nausea, intense unexpected muscle ache, concentrated heart arrhythmia and the urge to just shut off were just a few of the symptoms I experienced that morning.
I forced myself to hop in the shower and threw on something mildly acceptable before venturing out of the apartment to spend the rest of my day wandering the streets of Hong Kong aimlessly. It took almost six hours before I started even feeling close to myself again and to acknowledge what was actually happening. I noticed my recent arrhythmia happening more frequently, a constant struggle to remain focused on the work I needed to complete, feeling waves of nausea for no apparent reason, experiencing broken and restless sleep and just being an outright cow to those closest to me.
7 Ways to Manage Your Anxiety:
1. Having Sufficient Sleep – being physically exhausted can have serious affects but this can indirectly contribute to our stress and anxiety. This can quickly escalate into a self perpetuating cycle with anxiety causing restless sleep which in turn leads to more anxiety.
TIP: Schedule in at least seven hours of sleep and switch off all technology around you when you do.
2. Breathe & Meditate – Taking note of how you breathe and learning to control it will send signals to the brain to let it know that it can relax. Practice lengthening your breathing and couple this with meditation will allow us to pinpoint what exactly triggers our anxiety.
TIP: Wake up 15 minutes earlier every morning and sit yourself upright in your bed, close your eyes and just focus on your breathing.
3. Get Out & Exercise – go outside for a run because one – it clears your head and two – it fires up the endorphins.
TIP: Set aside just 30 minutes each day to do something that makes you break a sweat – run, skip or twerk – whatever get’s you moving.
4. Limit the Number of Times you Check your Inbox – research says it’s not the sheer volume of emails we receive on any given day that skyrockets our anxiety but the number of times we swipe down and/or hit control-refresh.
TIP: Only limit yourself to checking your emails three times a day, once in the morning, once at lunch and the last just before the close of business.
5. Keep Away from Technology Before Bed – something that many of us (myself included) struggle to do as we’ve become so reliant on technology and the constant stream of information to stimulate our minds. The light from your devices generally keeps your mind active and close to bedtime means it becomes difficult for our minds to switch off.
TIP: Put your phone away on charge that is far out of your reach an hour before bedtime and try to substitute a book in place of your phone.
6. Restrict your Caffeine & Alcohol Intake – I don’t believe in cutting things out for good but practicing moderation is key. It’s nice to be able to indulge in a cocktail with friends but try to avoid this during times where you feel your anxiety creeping up on you – it only adds to the problem. The same goes for caffeine, as good as those little drops of heaven can be when we have early morning starts; it also speeds up your heart rate which exacerbates the symptoms.
TIP: Drink more water instead. I’ve recently decided to stop drinking coffee and substituting green tea and enjoying how much more mellow I am in the mornings without it.
7. Be Grateful & Smile – start your day by reminding yourself of one thing that you’re grateful for because it’ll put your mind in the right frame for the rest of the day. Laughter is another great way to reduce your anxiety levels and whether it’s watching funny cat videos or people royally stacking it – these will alleviate your anxiety.
TIP: Find yourself a funny YouTuber who just makes you laugh with anything they say – Tanya Hennessy is a personal favorite of mine.
Have you ever experienced anxiety? Tell me about your experience and how you overcame it.