The last four years of my life have been tough. Every time I think I’ve managed to reach the top of a mountain to see the beautiful view I turn around and there’s another mountain ready for me to climb. They get smaller each time but they’re still there none the less.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember, of course during school I didn’t know it was anxiety, and when I realised it was anxiety it wasn’t really the type of thing you admitted. Looking back now there are so many things that anxiety stopped me from doing, from big things like living overseas to small things like going out with friends.
My experience with anxiety now isn’t necessarily better or ‘fixed’. I’ve learned to approach anxiety (and approach myself when in the throws of anxiety) differently and use different wellness practices to help keep me on track.
I’m sharing what I do to help me, in the hopes that it might spark an idea or help you approach your anxiety in a different way.
Go for a drive
Sometimes I just don’t want to go home. So, some nights after work I’ll ‘run away’ for a little bit. I’ll head out west straight from work and head to a beach, usually Murawai beach which is perfect for watching the sunset. The drive is the part I like the most, it’s different from the everyday commute – and longer. I put on some music that suits my mood, play it loud and drive.
When I get there I just sit and enjoy the scenery and think. It’s okay to not want to go home and want to get away – sometimes things get too much and having this time away from everything and everyone is what’s needed. I love taking photos at dusk too so it’s nice to go and focus on that once I’ve had time to myself.
I go about once a month to get my nails done with my cousin. I love it! It gives me some special time with my cousin, we are the same age so it’s really nice to get that time together to relax. The way we work it is that one person waits while the other gets their nails done. In the beginning, I didn’t like the idea of waiting around for an hour and a half, but it’s forced downtime which I really appreciate, that, as well as the self care time of treating myself to getting my nails done, is a double whammy self-care dose.
We go to Christine at Champagne Nail Bar and Spa in East Auckland.
Spend one on one time with myself
Most evenings when I get home from work I do some chores, prepare and make dinner then sit in the lounge with the hubby and we’ll watch Netflix. It’s so nice! The perfect way to unwind the day. Some evening though, I don’t want to watch TV until bedtime, so I’ll leave hubs alone and go sit in our bedroom and spend some time alone. It could be playing a game on my phone, reading on my kindle or drawing. I consciously tell myself that it’s my time and try to prioritise the thing I want to do the most.
I looooove facials. They are my absolute go-to for stress relief. There are two types of facials that I enjoy getting.
1) Product-less facial massage – I go to Rosenthal Skincare, Michelle has her clinic above a hairdresser in Ponsonby and it’s my favourite way to de-stress. It’s a non-traditional massage because Michelle doesn’t use products with her facials. She uses massage techniques to release tension held in the head and face. I have trouble with my jaw especially when I am stressed and with a program of regular facials with Michelle, we have helped my jaw for the better. They also improve my skin and complexion. These facial massages also include a neck and head massage which is bliss!
2) Traditional skincare massage – I have a regular place I go to to get my brows waxed and IPL done (begone hair!) they also offer a wide range of other beauty treatments including facials and massage. When I’m feeling especially stressed out I’ll book in for a facial and massage, these can be pricey but because I get my IPL service at the same place they give me a discount on all other services – which is great. I go to The Beauty Clinic in Meadowbank.
I’m in a small messenger group with two friends. Each morning we follow a template that gets us to outline what we are grateful for today, what our desire of the day is and what our big dream is. I’ve only been doing it a short time, and some mornings it’s hard, but I love it. It’s a great way to start the day and encourage ourselves (and one another) to be positive and mindful.
This one I definitely wish I did more of. Ideally, I would go to yoga once a week but I prioritise other things and find it hard (at the moment) to push myself to go along. The idea of going along to a yoga class makes me quite anxious, but the times that I do go along it’s amazing. I’ll get there one day, or maybe teach myself how to do it at home. When I do go, I go to Fat Yoga by The Kindness Institute in Ponsonby. Fat Yoga is yoga for all sizes, which really helps break some barriers that I have with gyms and fitness. The classes are very reasonably priced and all proceeds go back into local communities.
Food & Water
Where possible I try and make sure I’m getting enough vegetables. That being said, usually when I est out I go a bit crazy. Most evenings with dinner I try to have two or three different types of vegetables, and I try to pack them in when you wouldn’t expect them; i.e.g Corn with rice with curries, courgette or carrot grated into meatballs or burgers.
Water is another biggie, I’m not the best at keeping up with water but when I do I feel so much more motivated and energised. I have a bottle I keep at work, one at my bedside table and one in the car too (all reusable ones) every morning I try to drink a whole bottle before I start my workday.
I feel very very grateful to be able to do the above things. I don’t get to do all of those things all of the time. I prioritise what I can with the means I have to be able to do this. I wouldn’t be able to do these things without the support of my family and friends.
You’ve got to remember anxiety often doesn’t go away entirely. What I’ve learned is that it’s okay to have a bad couple of days. It’s okay to want to run away. It’s okay to cry. It’s all ok. Accepting it is a huge part of the process.
Remember, no matter if you think your anxiety is big or small – it matters and you shouldn’t justify it away as not being a big enough deal or compare it to others. Your feelings are valid and you deserve to share your experiences with friends and family. If they love you, they won’t judge you x