2017 started in the most amazing way, as we welcomed in the new year whilst on our honeymoon in Australia. Even when we returned in mid-January, after 3 weeks away, I felt so refreshed and the most ‘new year, new me’ I’ve ever felt.

This continued for a few weeks; I felt so in control of my life and positive about everything. I was continuing with my weekly yoga classes at work and adopting some mindfulness activities.

And then my old, unwelcome friend, anxiety, started to creep back in.

So which coping mechanisms and activities do I find help me? Read on to find out…

Coping with anxiety

Yoga

Towards the end of last year my work organised a yoga teacher to come to our office to teach a class every Wednesday. We do this in an empty office space the floor below ours. I love how convenient this is as I have no excuse not to go! It would be easy to just head home because I’m tired, but I always feel such a sense of achievement for going so always make the effort.

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Positive thoughts

While in Sydney airport I found one of my favourite new shops, Kikki.K. Here I bought a book: ‘Life is for Living – Words to Inspire’, and have been reading a quote a day since I got it. I love reading these positive words that give me a few minutes to think about them and how they could influence my life and thinking.

Even by thinking ‘I need to think more positively’, actually just makes it happen. It’s always at the back of my mind so if I start to think negatively then my brain automatically tries to balance this out.

This month at my work we’ve been embracing health and wellbeing. This has included exercise classes, healthy snacks and lunches and also, a variety of relevant talks. A couple of my colleagues chatted about their issues with anxiety one lunch time. It was so great of them to open up and to listen to stories of their very different struggles. Last week we also had a fellow blogger Mummy Jojo in to talk to us about ‘How to be Happy‘. She spoke very frankly about some of her own experiences in life so I definitely recommend checking out her blog.

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Weekly planner

I love all the Pusheen stationery available on ASOS; in particular, my weekly planner. Every Sunday I take a few minutes to look at my Google calendar and fill out my planner with what I have on in the week ahead. I love the act of physically writing these things down and it allows me to see if I have too much on and maybe need to rearrange some plans.

Managing my MS fatigue is very tricky, so making sure I have lots of rest time each week is so important for me. Filling in my planner also makes me feel in control of my life which eases my anxiety.

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Gratitude journal

I’ve recently been listening to a couple of great books on Audible, ‘Confidence: The Secret’ by the beautiful Katie Piper and ‘Lessons I’ve Learned’ by the incredible Davina McCall. Both women have such inspirational stories to tell and I learned so much from them. One key thought I took away was that I need to be more grateful, so last week I started a gratitude journal.

Each evening when I go to bed I write down 2 or 3 things that I have been grateful for that day. It could be something as simple as a friendly shop assistant that made me smile, coffee with a friend, or receiving some praise at work.

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Getting Fit(a)bit

For my 30th birthday at the end of 2016 I got a Fitbit. To be honest, I barely do any exercise due to my severe MS fatigue, but I really should fight this and do more. I’m not about to take up running, but my Fitbit helps me monitor my steps so I at least move around more and increase my water intake, as I want to improve this too.

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Sleep

Sleep is one of the most precious things to me. If I don’t get enough sleep then I feel terrible as this just exacerbates my MS fatigue. If I’m super fatigued then this frustrates and upsets me and therefore makes my anxiety flare up.

I go to bed really early each week night and try and get as much sleep as possible. My bed really is my favourite place in the world. It’s my happy, safe place that gives me the comfort and security I need to take some time out and calm any anxieties.

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Instagram

I recently bumped into a friend, Sally (aka. Salidatious), on my way to work one morning. She greeted me with a big hug, as we hadn’t seen each other in a while, and proceeded to tell me how much she was loving all the happy things I’d been sharing on Instagram. Needless to say this was the first thing I put in my gratitude journal that night!

I know that we usually share the best photos after taking 30 or so that don’t pass our strict vetting process, so my Instagram account isn’t an overly realistic view of my life. However, all I do here is share photos of things that make me smile and that I hope might make other people smile too.

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Mindfulness

Taking the time to check in with myself is really important to me. It helps me assess how I’m managing my MS and anxiety. I could definitely practice more mindfulness activities but for now I find that even just taking a few minutes each day to slowly breathe and focus on just that, helps me reset a bit.

I recently came across the mental health charity, Blurt Foundation, and their Buddybox subscription, aka ‘a hug in a box’. I ordered a one-off ‘lite’ box and it was a lovely package of delights that turned up on my desk at work.

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My final thoughts…

I’m finding that all these small changes and thinking positively makes me a happier person and therefore nicer to be around. This allows me to form new and better friendships and continue to have a fantastic marriage with my husband.

I’m not being unrealistic about all this, I do and always will still have down or angry times but I think I’m in a better situation to try and sort myself out.

Do you have any tips on coping with anxiety?

Jennie Stamp