Unlike a broken bone or headache, unfortunately there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ treatment for anxiety. As an author and award winning mental health blogger, sadly I know that better than anyone! Medication and therapy have worked for me, but I’ve also benefited from alternative and less traditional methods. To be clear, I don’t mean sitting around a camp fire, chanting and trying to contact your spirit animal, (although if that works for you, then cool)! I mean finding things that are comforting for both your body and brain.
Here are my top five:
Aromatherapy. I really believe in the power of scent and it’s healing benefits. Lavender for example, has proven calming and soothing effects when inhaled. I like to rub some on my pillow before I sleep. Or I add a few drops to my bath for extra indulgence. If you don’t like lavender, the rose or Ylang Ylang are also good. The key is to inhale and exhale in long deep breathes.
Breathing techniques. Belly breathing has long been recommended for people who suffer with anxiety. Most people tend to do what’s called ‘shallow breathing’ from our chests. However, breathing deep into our stomachs can double the amount of oxygen in the body and reduce any uncomfortable symptoms. For an example of how to do this and other techniques, check out my YouTube video.
Exercise When I was told that exercise would improve my mental health, I admit that I desperately didn’t want it to be true, (because I’m a lazy cow)! However, regular exercise can reduce the symptoms of anxiety significantly. Evidence shows that it causes chemical changes in the brain, which positively alter mood. The key is to find one that works for you, and that you enjoy. There are so many options these days; Jogging, swimming, cycling, the gym, dance, team sports, or even a vigorous walk. All exercise is positive!
Talking Sometimes the best way to alleviate anxiety is to let it all out of your head. What better way to do that than with a good natter with a friend or family member? Maybe write down your top worries in advance to keep yourself on track, and go through each one. It’s good to have someone to help you rationalise your concerns. Plus, who doesn’t love a good vent!
You Time. We sometimes forget how demanding the world can be, especially for women. Striving to be the perfect mum, colleague, friend, partner. Not to mention the pressure of always looking good and never feeling tired. Well the truth is we do get bloody tired, and that’s ok! At least twice a week I would recommend that you book in some ‘you time,’ (seriously stick it in the diary, so that people know not to disturb you). Go to the cinema, read a book, paint your nails, or have a nice soak in the bath with a glass of wine. Forget about the world for a while and allow yourself to completely relax, guilt free.
Claire Eastham’s blog We’re All Mad Here was recently nominated for a Mind Award, and her bestselling book of the same name is available to buy now. (Jessica Kingsley £12.99)