Don’t Freak Out

I’ve been telling myself this a lot lately. Don’t freak out. Don’t panic. You’re just fine. Fine, as they say, stands for Freaked out, Insecure, Neurotic and Emotional. When dealing with anxiety, the line between fine and FINE can be very thin indeed.

A lot of people deal with anxiety at some point or another, and everyone has their own triggers and their own ways of managing. I’m staring down the barrel of adulthood, and it’s quite possibly the most intimidating thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes I feel unprepared for being a grown up. Like someone somewhere is about to realise they’ve made a terrible mistake, revoke my Certified Adult card and send me back to adolescence for a few more years until I’m ready for the world.

I’ve been drifting back and forth between fine and FINE. Most days the rational part of my mind wins out. I remember that things are not as bad as I think they are, I try to keep things in perspective. Sometimes, though, the worry wins, and all my uncertainties and stresses pile up until it’s hard to see anything past my own fears.

The good news is that I’m much better at recognising this than I was a few years ago. I realise when I’m spiralling, I understand when I’m letting irrationality win over and I know what steps I can take to avoid the crash. I know how to take care of myself and put procedures in place to manage my worry. While everyone copes with worry in their own ways, there’s a few things everyone should consider before acting when anxious.

  • Are you hungry and/or thirsty? If your body is stressed, your mind will follow. Make sure you’re giving your body what it needs. Keep it well fuelled and cared for. Quick fixes like sugar and caffeine are a bad idea.
  • Are you sleepy? Sleep is basically the human equivalent of “Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”, and more often than not, it works. Stress can make it hard to sleep, so natural aids like herbal teas or valerian may help.
  • Are you lonely? Have you spoken to anyone today? It’s good to have your own space, but isolation can be counter productive. Talk to someone. Hug your dog. Bribe someone to cuddle with you. Contact is a good thing.
  • Are you comfy? Take a shower. Brush your teeth. Do your hair and get dressed, even if you’re not going anywhere. Work on feeling good in your own skin.
  • Are you doing something? A lazy day watching back to back episodes of Game of Thrones can be a good idea. It can also be a trap. When you’re doing nothing and feeling unproductive, it’s easy to spiral into despair and anxiety. Go for a walk, bake a cake, write something, do your laundry – keep busy. Give yourself purpose. Deny boredom its power.

I’ve figured out what methods of self-care work best for me. Usually it involves cleaning out the fridge and scrubbing the shower, or curling up under a heavy blanket with an exceptionally large cup of tea. I’ve learned to take control of the things I can so the things I can’t don’t overwhelm me.

Sometimes I tread the line between fine and FINE, but more often than not these days I lean towards the former. I know myself better. I know how to take care of myself, and that may honestly be my biggest achievement from the past few years. 

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