Something I briefly mentioned in our 2019 year review and 2020 goals blog post, I was diagnosed with Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). Since being diagnosed with this mental illness I have been working on ways to improve my mental wellbeing. Talking about how I’m dealing with my anxiety is important for me and for many others.
Unfortunately, anxiety affects about 1 in 7 people in Australia each year. About 3 per cent of Australians suffer from GAD. It is clear that anxiety affects a lot of people and that is is why I think it is important to talk about it. Living with anxiety really sucks and I don’t want anyone to have to deal with what I have been through for the past few years. If you already suffer from anxiety then I think you should try the things I have found to be the most successful for me.
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How I’m dealing with my anxiety
Nature has been scientifically proven to improve mental health and decrease stress. I tried this to see if it works and it has definitely been the most successful thing for me. Hearing singing birds, insects, streams of water and the sound of wind are all calming sounds. Even the sound of silence while walking or sitting in a park or reserve really does help with letting go of all the negative thoughts that swirl through my mind.
I try to get out into nature as often as I can, this sometimes includes a walk to a local garden or park and sometimes includes bushwalks.
Surrounding myself with plants
It’s not always possible for me to get out into nature reserves or go bushwalking every day so I have tried to bring nature to me. I have fallen completely in love with nature so much that I am now collecting indoor plants. There have been many studies that have highlighted the benefits of having plants in and around the home.
- Indoor plants can improve air quality by more than 80 per cent
- Plants inside the home can improve sleep
- Plants also reduce stress and anxiety
- Indoor plants can improve our immune system
- They can also increase our concentration, productivity and learning abilities
- Just looking at plants has a calming effect which makes us feel good.
All these things together improve our overall mood, physical health and mental health. I can genuinely feel this working for me. I find that I work better and get more done when I can see plants and I do feel calmer and less stressed when I am looking at and touching my plants.
Going to the gym
Growing up I was always super active. I did swimming for many years, I played cricket for 10 years and played football (soccer) until I was about 18. In my late teens and early twenties, I also played indoor soccer with a couple of friends. I was always super fit and healthy. I stopped playing sports in my early twenties because other things took preference, travelling, studying, working, etc. The time I once had for these sports was now limited.
It wasn’t until later I realised how important regular exercise was in my happiness and mental wellbeing. I now try to get to the gym at least three days a week, even if it is just for 20 or 30 minutes. Working out at the gym really helps my stress and anxiety and makes me feel great.
Just like studies have proven nature is good for mental well-being, regular exercise is also great for reducing stress, anxiety and depression. Exercise releases chemicals like endorphins and serotonin. These chemicals improve mood.
Another form of exercise I do is a 20-30 minute walk one to two times a day. Kayleigh and I have to exercise our dog Suki daily, otherwise, she will be destructive around the home. One way in which we do this is by taking her for a walk every morning. We sometimes walk her in the afternoon too. While the purpose of the walk is to stimulate our dog it also has the added benefit of doubling up as exercise for us also.
Walking is an easy form of exercise that can be implemented into anyone’s daily routine. You can walk your dog, you could walk to your local train station each morning or you could walk to the grocery store instead of driving your car. Walking is easily done and is a great way to reduce your negative thoughts. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, a 10-minute walk may be just as good as a 45-minute work out in helping to relieve anxiety and depression.
Deep breathing exercises
One of the more recent things I have started to do is deep breathing and meditation. I often find myself thinking into the future about things that haven’t happened. I’m constantly in my own head telling myself what if this happens. My mind is always playing scenarios that haven’t even happened. The problem with this is they are just thoughts, they aren’t real. Deep breathing exercises and meditation allows me to clear my mind of all these negative thoughts and focus on my breath and the present moment.
Research has shown that consistent meditation practice reprograms neural pathways in the brain that improves our ability to regulate emotions. Through guided breathing exercises I have learned how to see all my negative thoughts and let go of them.
I currently use a few apps when I am feeling stressed and anxious.
I highly recommend using Simple Habit app, the lessons are as short as 5 minutes and are really easy to listen and follow along to. If you’re interested in signing up to Simple Habit, click here to receive two weeks of unlimited meditations with Simple Habit Premium.
I also really like to use the Headspace app. Sign up for Headspace here and get 14 days of Headspace Plus free.
Another excellent app is Calm.
One of the more peculiar ways I have been helping to reduce my negative thoughts and clear my mind is by colouring in. While looking in a department store one day I noticed a colouring-in book specifically for adults to practice mindfulness. I thought that this would be a lot of fun so I purchased it. The title of the book is Art For Mindfulness Landscapes, but there are many others available.
The introduction to the colouring book describes mindfulness “as approaching the present moment non-judgementally, and with curiosity. It offers a break from our incessant, autopilot mind, and provides the opportunity to live a fuller life.”
“Art for mindfulness lies in the intersection of mindfulness and therapeutic art, offering a doorway into mindfulness that is accessible, relatable and fun.” It also goes on to say that colouring helps “many adults reconnect with a simpler, more spontaneous way of being.”
Colouring in definitely does allow me to forget about everything else and just focus on the present moment. I have found this to be very therapeutic indeed. If you’re interested in purchasing the Art For Mindfulness Landscapes colouring book consider purchasing it through our affiliate links below:
You can see more colouring-in books for mindfulness on Amazon here:
I would love to know, how are you dealing with your anxiety?