8 self help resources to help you understand and manage your anxiety
In this post you'll find 8 self help resources that have helped me along my journey back to health and happiness. I hope that they help you too! As I'm sure most of us know living with anxiety or any mental health problem can at times feel very lonely. A lot of the time you feel isolated because you fear no one will understand. Heck, most of the time you yourself don’t even understand it – which can be pretty scary!
I know that for me it took around 12 months to finally admit to myself that something wasn’t right, let alone to anyone else. You tell yourself it’s just stress and it will pass. After awhile you start to accept feeling awful every day, you accept not wanting to go or do anything anymore. It gets to a point where everyone around you has forgotten you exist, so you just kinda write yourself off too.
I guess back then I was quite naive in thinking all mental health sufferers were ‘crazy’ and needed to be in a padded cell or something! I didn’t think for one minute that it would ever affect me. I loved to talk, socialise and go out. I loved to go for nice meals, see family and go on holiday. But all that soon changed.
All of this didn’t just happen overnight, it has a habit of sneaking up on you over time. But when it finally hit me and the realisation sunk in, it hit hard. I felt completely trapped, lost in a black hole with no visible way out. I was petrified. I didn’t enjoy doing any of the things I used to, I hated leaving the house and the thought of having to socialise or eat in front of anyone filled me with instant dread.
But it wasn’t until all this happened that I really thought about taking care of myself mentally as well as physically. No one ever talks to you in school or college about any of these problems and so I felt at a loss as to what I needed to do. Thankfully I’d grown up with parents who’d introduced me to several alternative therapies long before this ever happened. However they weren’t too familiar with mental health issues – nonetheless I knew I wanted to try going down a more natural path back to health.
Over the last 2 years I have read and used several self help resources to help me along my journey, and can’t wait to share them with you - so let’s get going!
Ok, ok, one last thing before we do get started... I just want to say I am no way affiliated with any of the products I mention below, these are just some of the resources I’ve had experience with and have helped me. I do however share with you 2 products I’ve created myself, as they’ve helped me manage and understand my anxiety a lot better.
Right, now that’s out the way, we can really get going!
1. Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world by Mark Williams and Danny Penman
This book was the first self help book I’d been recommended by my counsellor. I’d already been and done several mindfulness classes a few weeks prior but really wanted to understand more about the theory behind ‘being mindful’.
The book talks you through an 8 week program and get’s you to look at several different approaches to being more mindful in everyday life. The best part of this book for me was the free guided meditations CD that comes with it.
I found it really helpful to be able to just follow the instructions given within each of the meditations. It was also nice to be able to do this from the comfort of my own home, at a time that suited me.
2. The Self Help Workbook by The Happy Life Balance Co.
I created this workbook to show you a really helpful set of techniques I learnt during counselling. These exercises not only helped me to understand my anxiety better but also to look at it in a completely different way.
The theory behind the 3 exercises in the workbook is to get you to compartmentalise. What this means is that you need to separate your anxiety out in order to analyse and work on each one individually.
We often view our anxiety as one thing, when in reality it’s a build up of smaller anxieties that have become fused together. I get you to start thinking about the root causes of these anxieties and really get to the bottom of what’s caused it, instead of just trying to live with it.
3. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
I know I’ve mentioned this book in another recent post but it’s just so good. It really helped give me a whole new perspective on my life and how I could go about getting exactly what I wanted.
Instead of buying the book I downloaded the audio book and listened to it over the course of a week. I decided that in order to really focus on what was being said I would only listen to it whilst taking a bath, so I couldn’t get distracted.
In the book it includes stories and theories from a lot of well known public speakers. They talk about how your attitude towards life is directly linked to what you actually get from it. This is called the law of attraction. When you put positivity out into the world you are open and ready to accept it back. Negative people tend to be very closed minded and therefore don’t attract positivity to them.
This book was a definite eye opener to the fact that we are all a lot more in control of our destiny than we probably realise and I would highly recommend you give it a read, or in my case a listen!
I got this audio book for free by downloading Amazon audible’s 30 day trial. As part of the trial you get 1 free book and then its £7.99 per month thereafter – but you can cancel at any time.
4. Headspace – App for iPhone and Andriod
This great little app can really help if you are new to the whole ‘mindful meditation’ thing. You can sign up for a 10 day free trial where it talks you through exactly what to do and focus on each day.
Each of the 10 lessons are only 10 minutes long so it’s really easy to find the time to fit it in each day and to start building up the habit of a regular routine.
It also sends you a prompt when the next lesson is unlocked so you don’t forget to do each one. Once you’ve completed the free trial you have the option to subscribe to more lessons and helpful material if you so wish.
5. At last a life - anxiety and panic free by Paul David
This book is a fantastic insight to everything to do with anxiety and depression. It wasn’t until I read this book that I even realised I suffered with something called ‘depersonalisation’. I’d never heard of it before, but as soon as I started reading about it I felt one of those magical ‘aha’ light bulb moments.
Paul really helps you to understand what anxiety is and how it can affect you. Also throughout the book he references several stories of people from his online community which have benefited from his help – hearing what other people have gone through and overcome was very comforting, especially when a lot of the time you feel like it’s only you who’s going through these situations.
The biggest help I found, which I mentioned briefly already, is that he talks through a lot of the symptoms and knock on affects that anxiety and depression have on our lives. He also dishes out some home truths about the way we try to tackle these problems, when we should really just learn to be ok with them. Yes I know that can be easier said than done – but it can drain so much of our energy!
It’s definitely worth a read!
6. Michael Sealey’s Youtube channel
As I started to meditate more I found myself wanting to explore different guided meditations. After scouring the internet I came across a youtube video of Michael’s and decided to give it a go.
I’d only ever done longer meditations in the mindfulness classes I’d taken, so I was intrigued to know if I could be as focused at doing it at home as I was in the class. Thankfully I could!
On his channel Michael has a large selection of videos to choose from, each with their own specific topic. There are meditations to help with sleep, anxiety, depression, weight loss, confidence and so much more. I highly recommend having a look through as it’s a great free resource and is the only place I go to look for new meditations.
7. Dare to connect by Susan Jeffers
In this book Susan quickly pulls you in with her wisdom and humour – which I thoroughly appreciated given I’d developed pretty bad social anxiety.
In the book she looks at all the different fears around connecting with people and helps you to understand why it doesn’t need to be or have to be scary one bit.
The main takeaway I got from this book was that it’s ok for me to feel nervous and vulnerable but instead of letting it hold me back, I should just go ahead and do it anyway. This notion felt completely alien to me at first, as I’d spent much of the previous 2 years avoiding all uncomfortable situations. But reading this helped me to see that this wasn’t the way to live my life and I should start to put myself back out there, no matter how anxious I felt.
This book also gets you to look at the relationships you have already in your life and think about whether they are helping you move forward or not. Sometimes we need to cut these old connections loose in order to go out there and build new ones.
8. To Do Planner by The Happy Life Balance Co. (me again!)
One of the best ways that has helped me is to plan ahead. Anxiety has a good way of filling our heads with a million different questions, scenarios and fears all at the same time. This can make it extremely hard to focus or remember what it is you need to achieve that day.
Not having a plan can make you feel wildly out of control, which only adds to the anxiety that’s already there. A lot of the time we can be quite hard on ourselves for not remembering certain things, and then we continue to focus solely on these negativities for the rest of the day.
Planning ahead however, can help with this dramatically. It’s a great way to prepare for the day or week ahead so that when the time arrives we know exactly what it is we need to be doing.
In my To Do Planner I get you to focus on setting yourself goals and tasks, as well as keeping track of your daily routine and more. It’s specifically designed towards helping people to keep on top of their mental wellbeing and encourages a lot of positive habits and routines.
So that’s it, my top 8 resources for helping you understand and manage your anxiety!
Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve tried out any of the above or have any other resources you’ve found helpful along the way!