In his early 20s, Joshua Fletcher, who is now a well-known clinical psychotherapist at The Panic Room and successful author, suffered a nervous breakdown. For a while, he was unable to function or do anything. This hurt both his social and professional relationships. It meant that he couldn’t work or engage with other people. It had a demonstrable impact on his life and outlook of the world.
Because of ongoing coronavirus pandemic, anxiety disorders have made a considerable resurgence, which is often common during economic downturns and social upheaval. With people forced into strict lockdown requirements, millions of people across the world are looking for new ways to handle their stress and anxiety. Having studied psychotherapy and the nature of anxiety disorders, along with experienced it himself, Joshua is more than qualified in helping others achieve happiness in their lives. Here are some of his essential tips for coping with elevated stress during these uncertain times.
Don’t fight it, embrace it
In Joshua’s view, fighting your anxiety disorder will only serve to worsen it. Instead of bottling your feelings and obfuscating them from your mind, the best first step is to normalise it. What does this mean? Well, it means you need to admit that you have these feelings and thoughts. Be upfront and honest with the people around with you.
Reach out for help
You must reach out for help when you need it. In his books (Anxiety: Panicking about Panic and Anxiety: Practical About Panic), Joshua always recommends his readers to consult with a psychotherapist they trust. You won’t be able to solve your problems on your own, and having the support of a professional will be nothing but beneficial to your mind and outlook. Face to face consultations are helpful; however, Joshua recommends that reading self-help guides can also be of great value to the reader.
Sleep and exercise are essential
If you want to minimise your stress as much as possible, then getting a good night’s sleep and exercising regularly is very important. You should aim for at least eight hours of sleep per night and remember that getting to sleep before midnight (or as early as possible) is often more enriching sleep. Likewise, getting daily exercise is essential for relieving your body of stress and toxins. It releases a series of endorphins that are great for your mind and body.
Avoid alcohol and caffeine
Caffeine addiction is widespread. Ask anyone who is working a 9-5 job, and they’re likely going through several coffees per day. While caffeine is reliable for boosting your metabolism and energy levels, it has been linked to stress and anxiety. Alcohol can have the same effect. However, this doesn’t mean that you must avoid these foods entirely. Start by curbing your consumption of them, like limiting yourself to 1-2 cups of coffee per day, instead of 4-5. The same goes for Friday night drinks after work. It’s easy just to let go and drink as much as you want; however, the next day won’t be pretty. Minimise your alcohol intake, and you’ll be feeling more relaxed and at ease the next day.
Don’t change your life drastically
In his books, Joshua recommends trying to maintain some normality in your life. Your anxious mind will start spouting random solutions to your problems, and some of them might even seem reasonable and actionable. However, it would help if you left the diagnosing to a professional. Try and maintain a consistent schedule that doesn’t affect your life too much. When things are changing so rapidly around you (like what we’re experiencing right now), sometimes the best thing for everyone is consistency. If you want more information or help, check out Joshua’s podcast, books or personal website on how to handle your stress and anxiety.