I did a poll on Twitter a while ago asking if anyone would be interested in reading a list of my favourite mental health posts from other bloggers. I have put together a collection of posts which include advice and personal stories on a variety of mental health issues. I hope you find them as interesting and useful as I do!
- Breathing in a Panic
- The Taboo of Tablets
- When Your Mental Health Affects Your Job
- Using Mindfulness to Choose Happiness
- 10 Things to Remember When You’re Having a Bad Day
- How to Deal with Anxiety While Living Alone
- Anxiety: 5 Positive Steps for Improvement
- Lack of Sleep with Depression: How to Cope
- Labels, Diagnosis and Mental Health
- The First Steps to Getting Help
Comment below if you have come across any posts that you think should have made the list!
I have often fallen into habits that may help my anxiety at the time but are unhealthy in the long term. These habits are referred to as ‘crutches’ and we use them to relieve the feeling of anxiety when it becomes overwhelming. However these actions can disrupt our lives in ways that make the initial relief not worth it. Below are a list of crutches I have developed on and off over the years and what I do to avoid them.
Carrying A Paper Bag in Fear of Hyperventilating
I used to have regular panic attacks and though I rarely reached the point of hyperventilating, I felt the need to carry a small paper bag with me just in case; if I left it behind, it would worry me until I got home again. The best way to deal with panic attacks is to learn coping mechanisms so that when you start to experience one you know exactly what to do and that way there is no need for a crutch, such as a paper bag, in the first place.
Avoiding Eating Food with Nuts
I have eaten peanuts and various types of nut in the past with no problem but I still prefer to avoid them in fear of having an allergic reaction. As a result of this fear, If I do eat something which contains nuts it will often lead to a tight feeling in my throat and other symptoms of panic. This is of course purely psychological and a direct result of the worrying thoughts. The only solution is to start eating nuts regularly to remove this association which is something I still need to push myself to do.
Checking Where the Nearest Hospital is
I often do this when I am on holiday or staying in a new place as it is comforting to know that I can easily get to a hospital in the unlikely event that something were to happen to me. If I become anxious and it leads to physical pain my first thought is often “How close am I to the nearest hospital?” and if it is not nearby, my anxiety worsens. This is another example of worrying thoughts leading to physical symptoms of anxiety. By avoiding any thoughts about hospitals when there is no emergency and instead focusing on relaxing, you can begin to combat the anxiety.
Avoiding Eating in Fear of being Sick
Previously I have avoided eating a meal before doing something/going somewhere that makes me anxious as I would worry about being sick in public and embarrassing myself. Getting into a habit of doing this can be toxic as the more you worry about being sick and expect it to happen, the more chance it will. As silly as it sounds, just reassuring yourself that if you are sick it will not kill you nor anyone else can be a huge help.
I hope I have been able to give an insight into why we look for crutches to alleviate anxiety and why this isn’t always the best solution. Please share in the comments what you have done to overcome your own crutches!
It was around the age of 11 that I first started to experience anxiety manifesting itself in the form of pains in my chest. I remember feeling convinced each time it happened that I was having a heart attack but I didn’t say anything to anyone about it because my childhood logic told me “if you don’t acknowledge it, it won’t be true”. Instead I just sat there feeling very anxious and, of course, the pain lingered.
These pains have been coming and going, both regularly and irregularly at different points in my life, ever since. As well as in my chest, I sometimes experience pains in my head which then leads to the disastrous thought of “I’m having an aneurysm”. In more recent years, I have learned to take a different approach when I begin to feel a ‘stress pain’, as I like to call it:
- Fully engaging in an activity e.g. a board game so my mind is distracted and I am less likely to have dramatic, unhealthy thoughts.
- Using meditation or just simply paying attention to my breathing if the pain worsens and the feeling of anxiety is overwhelming.
- Going for a walk to help clear my head while I wait for the pain to pass.
These are just a few tips I have found help ease my mind in situations where it is easy to lose control and trigger your fight or flight response. This is something that I am still battling so please do comment with your own advice/experiences!