While I’m not a doctor and haven’t studied anxiety in a professional capacity, I have a fairly extensive understanding of anxiety through the lens of a patient. So, I haven’t read up on the things that don’t help my anxiety, but I’ve paid attention to my body and mind when it starts to misbehave itself. Which is to say, a great deal.
When you’re living with anxiety on a day to day basis, you learn to keep an eye out for triggers that might worsen it or cause panic attacks. It’s a natural behaviour to avoid any unnecessary distress, and while worrying about triggers on its own can sometimes have negative effects, I feel that it still helps more than it hinders.
Off the cuff, here are a few things that I have personally noticed probably don’t help my anxiety on a day to day basis:
What do you not do when you’re feeling on edge and jittery? Drink a stimulant that dehydrates you. Yet, that’s sometimes what I do.
I didn’t drink a cup of coffee until March 2020, when the UK went into its first lockdown, and I have been an addict ever since. Retail workers needed the caffeine back then – and probably still do. But when my anxiety made me feel uncomfortable and extra jittery, I still had my morning cup. Unfortunately, you can have heightened anxiety and still have zero energy, which is why the caffeine was so important.
Where possible, I try to cut out the caffeine and have a tall glass of water with a squeeze of lemon. But of course, it isn’t nearly so satisfying to drink.
Stress At Work
Everyone gets stressed at work, don’t be a snowflake and deal with it or you’ll never make it in the real world. Sorry, if you’re a younger millennial, you’ll know we’ve been hearing this crap for about a decade now.
Some stress at work is unavoidable, especially if you work with the public. But some of it is, and I learned that walking away from impossible situations was a great tool to dealing with unnecessary stress, no matter how unprofessional it looked. Picking our battles can save us from stress that could worsen anxiety or worse, cause a panic attack.
By the end of my career in retail, I decided to make the choice to walk away from manufactured drama, and I will never look back.
So, here’s my highly unsubstantiated theory. When we’re tired, our brains decide to go on battery-saver mode, which means relying on ingrained thoughts and habits to help automate and save energy. Because of anxiety and a history of self-depreciation (that I am thankfully winning the battle against), my go-to thoughts can be none too kind at times.
Having these kinds of thoughts right before bed isn’t great for quality sleep, and sometimes they’re nightmare fuel. Getting to bed at an earlier time doesn’t guarantee a gentle drifting off to sleep, but it’s helped me to not fall into spirals of anxious thoughts. And hell, anyone with anxiety knows that we aren’t getting to sleep for hours once that starts.
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