How to Deal with Anxiety
As I write this, we are in week 6 of lockdown in the UK. We have no idea when it is going to end, or what the next stage of restrictions being lifted will look like. It is a time of so much unknown. Many people are struggling with anxiety, including me so I thought it would be useful to share my story and how to deal with anxiety. I have found some great answers from experts.
Anxiety Hits Hard
The weekend at the end of week 5 of lockdown was where anxiety hit hard. There was a combination of things which have contributed to it. Firstly, several very stressful situations with one of my boys, who is not coping at all well with lockdown (and separation of parents). Then there is lockdown itself, the same old routine every day, the same hour of daily exercise, the same sitting at my computer working, the same zoom calls, the routine is dull.
There is an impact on me of the recent separation. The ex left just before lockdown which feels amazing, positive, I have freedom. Except I do not, as I cannot go out and celebrate my newfound freedom with my friends.
Owning my house is amazing but it comes with its own stresses. Namely the higher mortgage payments (although I have taken advantage of the mortgage holiday). It feels like everything is breaking and needs fixing although in reality nothing has been fixed in the past 10 months of toxic living life. In the past lockdown weeks the kitchen tap has broken, the sink blocked, the garage door broke, the locks needed replacing, a roof tile needs replacing, the list goes on and on and mostly with a cost attached and a person needed to fix said roof, replace said kitchen tap (thank you neighbour Adam who fixed my blocked sink, social distanced of course!).
Coffee and Booze…
I am drinking coffee, two cups a day but this is adding to anxiety and I am drinking alcohol (isn’t everyone?) but sometimes 4 drinks in a day is too much (Normally a weekend thing, but I am having a drink every day).
Also, I have an incredible amount of work on the go for Mrs Mummypenny, which is amazing, and I am hugely grateful for, but it can be slightly stressful fitting in meetings, negotiations, emails, doing the work. Plus, I have decided to write my book. And I must home educate 2 or 3 children (depending on if J decided he wants to be here or not) for half of the week, ages 7,10, 12.
Anything else to add to the mix of life at the moment? Oh yes the combination of all this means my sleep is terrible, I often have nightmares (normally about still being in the previous pre-lockdown relationship situation), and will then lie awake for an hour or two stressing out that I’m not sleeping.
What does Anxiety feel like?
I spent four days living with the building anxiety. Anxiety feels to me like uncontrollable bubbling inside me. I feel manic, my mind is buzzing with all my worries and things on my mental to-do list (much longer than my actual written to-do list), I struggle to focus and flit from one task to another. I feel like a buzzing bee trapped inside, banging against a window again and again trying to get out.
What did I do to deal with the anxiety?
On day 3 of anxiety I reached out to a few friends or they reached out to me, I cannot remember which was around it was. One friend is Heather Hall. My friend of ten years, we met working together at EE. She left there the year before me in 2014 to set up her own business as a hypnotherapist.
We meet up every 6 months or so for a coffee in London Colney, always the same retail park and download life, talk about business, discuss plans, generate marketing ideas, talk relationships, issues with children.
She also treats me occasionally using her cognitive hypnotherapy techniques. In the past she has helped with weight loss (I lost 4 stone after leaving EE using hypnotherapy techniques), loss of confidence and focus. She also tested out her life coaching course using me as a trial.
She offered to call me on day 4 to help with my anxiety. It was a very simple conversation over the phone, but she can do skype as well, and obviously can meet up in person from her base in Hemel Hempstead (once all this is over).
Talking through what I can control
We spoke about everything that I CAN control. I was able to reel off some things and she prompted me with lots of other thing to think about. She was writing it all down as I spoke. When done she asked me to close my eyes and she repeated it back to me and my subconscious mind in her calm soft voice. She asked me to imagine each of the things I can control in an image in my imagination, I chose the Tree of Life (a poster that I used to have in my bedroom as a young child) and added all the things I can control as fruit and animals on the tree.
I also imagined all my worries and negativity flowing away down a spiralling plughole, like water running out of a bath.
After the Call I felt calmer
Immediately after the call I felt calmer and my mind less busy. We went out straight out for a walk, in the rain. We came home, cooked dinner. The boys sat in their rooms watching YouTube, I watched Killing Eve, had a bath, read some of Big Magic (fab Liz Gilbert book!) and went to bed at 9:45! I slept until 6am, my Samsung watch tell me that I slept in that time for 7 hours 45 minutes with 89% efficiency. The REM and deep sleep, the good stuff made up 22% of my sleep.
And now this morning whilst the boys still sleep, I am beavering away at website stuff, writing this post, and changing my name back to Beattie on my social media profiles! Today I am limiting my coffee to one cup only and will get some decaf in at the next shop I go to. And booze, well no I am not giving up booze. You cannot do everything can you?
A FREE Guide to help you
Heather has produced a FREE guide over on her website, 6 easy to apply tips to help take back control and minimise the effects of anxiety during the Coronavirus pandemic. Head on over to her site, pop in your email address and she will send it over. And if you are thinking of trying hypnotherapy for yourself (anxiety is the most common issue that she treats!) there is no one better than Heather.
Full disclaimer, Heather is a friend, and this is a favour, no money changed hands, although we do buy each other coffee, sometimes cake.