As a man, it's a subject that we are often too scared to talk about, but at some point in our lives, it will have touched us all.
No, I'm not talking about Michael Jackson.
I'm talking about Anxiety.
Today is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and in order to highlight the occasion, I wanted to share some of my top tips for managing anxiety.
Although I like to make the odd joke here or there, please know that I take this very seriously.
As much as I love social media, it can hide a million truths and you never really know what may be going on behind the scenes.
A lot of what I post is very upbeat and 'comical', but I will be honest and say YES, I have had my struggles over the years.
Although I am much more confident and in control than I used to be, anxiety still plays a big part in my life.
I went through quite a rough time during my college years, to the point where my anxiety was affecting my overall health. Not only was I being physically sick, but it was affecting both my home and social life on a daily basis.
With that being said, I know I have come a long way since those days.
By sharing this today, I hope some of the below tips will help you (or someone you know) take back better control of their life.
Know Your Triggers
Despite sharing various aspects of my life online, I am still very much a closed book. It took me a long time to admit to myself, and those around me, what my biggest anxiety was.
Knowing your main trigger in advance can play a key part in helping you to manage it. This can be really simple, as it's not hard to notice when a pattern is forming.
For example, are you mostly stressed at work / school? Or is there a certain person or situation that brings out your worry?
I always prepare myself for the worst in every situation. It's probably not the best character trait, but that's just me.
I know what causes my stress, and although there's not a lot I can do about it due to my physical limitations, being actively aware of it can make you feel more in control.
This may sound a little strange, but I find running my hands under freezing cold water really helpful whenever I'm feeling anxious.
This may just be a personal preference, but I find the cooler my body temperature is, the easier it is to relax. This may sound like a contradiction, as I'm a non-walking advert for hot water bottles these days, but being hot and bothered when stressed is never a good combination.
Other quick ways to cool down can also be as simple as going outside, opening a window, or wiping your face with a cold flannel.
Probably the most obvious / important tip of all - yet the one we struggle with the most.
Deep breaths, if only it was that simple. Sarcasm aside, a basic inhale and exhale can go a long way.
I once saw a college counsellor who taught me some basic breathing techniques, but unfortunately our bodies work in different ways and practice doesn't always make perfect.
One thing that I have actually found really helpful is an app called 'Headspace'.
Headspace describe themselves as your "guide to health and happiness". Don't worry, I'm not turning all buddha on you (despite the belly rolls), but I do genuinely find their guided meditation sessions really relaxing.
I think you should check it out for yourselves before you judge me, alright!
*This is not an AD by the way. I genuinely use this app and find it really helpful.
So there we have it... my top tips for managing anxiety.
Since applying these to my own life, I have noticed significant improvements. Don't get me wrong, I'm no trained therapist. But maybe taking some of this advice on board will help, or at least encourage you to talk to someone about it.
I still have a way to go, as believe it or not, I'm not perfect.
Shocker, I know.
If you're struggling, just know that my door is always open...
(Well technically it's not. I'm forever cold and have it locked 99% of the time because I'm a wimp - but you know what I mean)