I hold my hands up - I am a worrier. And I don't say it likely. Bouts of stress and anxiety have hit me and dragged me down, way down, at the most inopportune of moments in my young life. I've found that, particularly since graduating and since the 'routine' of education was removed from my life and I've actually had to think about the other 'r' word ('responsibilities'), things have had a tendency to get a on top of me a little. Today, after a very hectic day in Ikea trying to simultaneously budget/furnish and mentally plan out my house, I thought I'd share a few simple tips I use to keep my anxiety in check.

TAKE OWNERSHIP: One of the most important things you can do is recognize your triggers when you panic. Do you start to get short-tempered? Irritable? Impatient? Exploring every possible worst-case-scenario there could possibly be in some macabre alternate universe? If you, like myself, answer a big 'yes' to all of the above, it should be fairly easy to pinpoint the usual suspects when it comes to sending yourself on a stress spiral. When that happens, make the decision to stop. Don't pressure yourself or worry that you won't be able to, just occupy your mind with the calm repetition of: 'I am not going to allow myself to worry'. It takes discipline and practice, but it's SO worth it.

THERE IS NO 'I' IN CALM: Distract yourself by focusing on others. Is there anyone nearby who might like some help or company? An old friend you can call to ask about their day? By taking the focus away from the 'self', we not only remove the obstacles of our mind (worry, stress, anxiety), but also boost our self-confidence by doing something great for someone else. I don't know about you but I spell that 'WINNING'.

PUNGENT POWER: It might sound ridiculous, but scents can actually really affect your mood. You know that feeling you get when you spray your favourite perfume - you suddenly feel a little more confident, even sexier, more girly? I find that lighting a scented candle makes me feel good too. Something about bringing warmth, soft light and a beautiful smell to my living space keeps me calm and boosts my mood. Try it out! I'd personally recommend the Bath and Body Works Aromatherapy Stress Relief Candle (pictured above) for a fresh, herbal scent to calm your senses. Alternatively, if you're in the UK and not willing to pay the shipping for B&BW, try any of the beautiful Paddywax range of candles from John Lewis. They're soy-based, packaged in a recycled wine bottle (I've actually made one of these into a brush holder - expect a blog post soon!), and smell absolutely divine. Instant feel-good factor.

HAVE A SING-ALONG: This one might sound a little insane but, sometimes, when I start to feel panic setting in, I put my headphones in and sing along, full volume, to whatever song I know will uplift me (right now it is most of Now!84 - no judgement please). Obviously you won't feel comfortable doing this in public, but try putting music on and singing along in your head, focusing on the lyrics of the song. Engaging your brain in something unrelated to stress, whether it's a song, book, even a sudoku puzzle, will help. 

I guess all of these tips pretty much go along the same line - distract yourself, trick your mind out of its stress 'playlist', and make yourself comfortable. Try not to get angry with yourself or put pressure on yourself to stop stress - in my experience, this only heightened the issue. Just be gentle, go easy, and find something more fun to do with your time than burying yourself under worry! I promise it's NOTHING to feel guilty about. 

How do you manage worry? Are you easily 'stressed out'? What do you worry about?

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