Taming My Anxiety Goblin
Something you may or may not know about me is that I've suffered with anxiety since my early teens. Back then I would have panic attacks frequently and would ball myself up with worry until I was almost paralysed by it. As I've grown up I've become a lot better at managing it, but in the past 6 months my annoying little anxiety goblin has been rearing it's ugly head once more. I first heard the phrase anxiety goblin on the wonderful Katie's blog and it seemed to sum up perfectly the way my own anxiety feels. Just when I'm in my flow and cracking on with things, the little goblin appears on my shoulder, questioning everything that I'm doing and telling me that everything will just go wrong anyway. It lists out everything and everyone I have in my life and ponders over the ways I might lose them. My anxiety goblin isn't a very nice guy - in fact, he's downright mean.
So I've been working hard recently and doing everything I can to keep him at bay. Some techniques and tricks seem to work better than others, so for anyone else who has their own little goblin knocking around, I thought I'd share the ones that seem to be most effective for me...
Anyone who has ever seen my desk at work or my bedroom floor will vouch that I am not a very organised person. My style tends to just be cracking on with it and hoping that I don't forget something, but when I'm feeling anxious I find that sorting and organising really helps. There's something about putting things in their right place that seems to calm my frantic mind.
Cooking at home is something I've been doing a lot more of recently and I was surprised to realise how much it helps me feel more at ease. I think it's because when you're cooking or following a recipe your mind is very focussed on the task at hand, which leaves less time for worrying about daft things that are never going to happen. Plus you get to eat some yummy food at the end of it.
3) Classical music
This was actually a tip from my sister in law (to be!), Kate, and it has worked wonders for me. If I'm feeling on edge about something at work, I pop Classical FM or Radio 3 on on the way into work and listening to the music seems to really soothe me. Kate recommended trying to focus on just one instrument while you listen which is a really great way to get back in the moment when your brain is whirring at 100 million miles an hour.
4) Write it down
This one works particularly well for me in the middle of a busy day when I have tonnes of meetings and a never-ending pile of projects to finish. Whenever I feel myself starting to panic or freak out, I write down everything that needs to be done - literally everything that is tumbling around my brain. I then try and focus on just two or three things that absolutely need to be done that day and worry less about forgetting the other stuff because it's all written down.
My last trick is my favourite one and definitely the one that works most effectively for me. I find that reading and getting lost in another world is the only task that completely switches my brain off and quietens my anxiety goblin for a decent length of time. I always read before bed and if I'm feeling particularly worried about something I'll curl up with my book for half an hour before trying to tackle it. I do have to be careful with what I'm reading though, as if I'm going through a particularly bad spell, I find that certain subject matter can be triggering.
I hope this post was useful to some of you. Anxiety can be a real bitch to live with and I'm always on the lookout for new techniques to try and minimise the impact it has on my life, so if you have any please lemme know. And if you also have a horrid little anxiety goblin tapping at your shoulder and want to chat to someone who knows how it feels, feel free to whizz me an email or a DM - I know how lonely it can feel sometimes.