Anxiety can be your biggest enemy. In a matter of seconds, it can turn any situation around and make you feel like running to the hills.
I struggle with anxiety and depression. I’ve had therapy, I take medication and I’m awaiting a specialist counsellor to discuss PTSD.
Socially it’s hit and miss for me. I like being around people, but I like my own company too.
I need that space to unwind, for my body and brain to relax after holding anxiety at bay so I can be social.
I prefer small groups of people and I hate being centre of attention for anything.
Anxiety is sneaky, evil and it’s exhausting.
My daughter, Eliza, is ten and suffers greatly with anxiety, especially with social situations. There was a time not too long ago that she was housebound other than attending school.
She was unable to enter a shop, theatre, cinema, restaurant…. Generally, anywhere that there would be a lot of people, noise and distractions. It was too much.
Sensory overload and anxiety are not a great combination at all. It was very hard to plan anything because of how she’d react but we let her go at her pace and take it in her own time.
It took years of patience, support, love and understanding before she was able to go in to these places again and be fairly relaxed about it.
For both of us it’s been trial and error in finding anything that helps anxiety. We both use essential oils (I know there will be a roll of eyes at this as a lot of people don’t believe in their benefits.
But if you find a reputable brand that is a great quality, there are many benefits from them and they work for us which is what matters).
For me, I’m happy to wear the oils on my skin or diffuse them. For Eliza, she prefers a drop on her coat or t-shirt collar rather than her skin.
We found what works for us and they have been brilliant at ‘taking the edge off anxiety’.
Distraction/Focus – When out and about you can guarantee anxiety will attempt to take one of us down. I like to focus on where I am going, how far from the car I am.
If I start feeling a bit ‘wobbly’, I’ll read street signs or sit on a street bench and read a book that’s stored on my phone.
For Eliza, she likes to talk when she needs to battle that rising feeling of anxiety, so we make it a bit more of a fun distraction. I
’ll ask her to find certain things and point them out to me, for example – Find 3 ladies wearing coats, find 2 pigeons, can you see 2 red cars…… anything you can see can be used.
She likes to do this. It helps her keep control, keep her mind busy and nearly every time, this is enough for her to carry on whatever we were doing.
Sometimes she prefers to go sit in McDonalds or a café. On the top floor and as far away from people as possible.
That quiet time is important, and she likes to be as high as possible off the ground when anxiety strikes, whether it be in a food place, up a slide, up a hill, in an elevator….
Fidget toys have been incredible for Eliza. She has a huge variety of fidget cubes, rubix cubes, stretchy toys, bendy toys, clicker toys, flashing and spinning wands…..
She takes a bag of fidget toys to school with her, to play with on her journey as she goes on transport. They calm her whilst giving her a distraction, keeping her busy.
Horse therapy – I love horses, always have. I used to teach children to ride (many years ago).
No matter how I was feeling, how bad the day was going, the minute I went riding or even just grooming a horse, I felt so relaxed. It was extremely calming.
Eliza did horse therapy for a year. It really helped her anxiety, she was so calm, confident and relaxed when she was riding. With anxiety gone she could think clearer.
She also benefitted greatly from the social interactions with other children as it was one of the few things she’d attend as she was getting control of her anxiety.
Art therapy – This one is just for me as Eliza is not a fan of art, it just doesn’t interest her at all. I love it.
When anxiety is attempting to drag me down, I get the sketch book out and draw (anything! No specific subject and sometimes just doodles).
I’ll get a small canvas and paint a landscape that I make up in my mind. It doesn’t matter how good it is, it’s what I get from doing it that matters.
I feel calm, I relax and I am able to tell anxiety where to go!
These are the main ones I wanted to share. Eliza also ‘dabbles’ in music therapy when the mood takes her.
I’m sure there are many more that others can add themselves. I hope some of these are useful to others that experience anxiety.