Anxiety can make life a bit of an uphill battle all year round. In the summer, when everyone is running in slow motion on the beach, with hair flying, tans glowing and barbeques a-cooking, dealing with anxiety can mean this is all a bit much and you end up spending all your summer on the sofa. We want you to be able to enjoy as much of the summer as possible, whatever it is you’ve got going on, which is why the team at Ditch the Label put their heads together and came up with this list of 12 things you can do to make the most of it.
When you’re at home…
1) Take it a day at a time
Having big plans for the summer can be great for some, but when you have anxiety, it can be more a source of stress than anything else. Instead, take every day as it comes, and do little things that get you more and more comfortable with a change in routine.
2) Tell a few close friends what the situation is
If your buddies are keen to get you out and about, and you are struggling a bit now you’re out of your usual routine or school or uni, try talking to one or two of them about what is going on. That way, they will have your back when the squad is asking where you’ve been, and that’s one less thing to worry about for you.
3) Baby steps
If your anxiety is to do with being outside in the world, take it a little bit at a time. Go for a walk around the nearest bit of countryside or park for some open green space. Next time, stop at a little café and grab a coffee to fuel the rest of your walk. After that, stop at the nearest shop and pick one or two bits and pieces for lunch or for your parents. Then try a designated shopping trip, but on a quiet day like a Tuesday afternoon. Before you know it, you will be finding it easier and easier to be out and about, even when it’s busy.
4) Have some movies ready
Every now and again, there are gonna be days that are worse than others. When these days come around, keep a list of all your fave movies, books and TV shows that you need to catch up on to hand. That way, a quick scan down the list will give you a great distraction without you having to stress or get worked up over not being able to make a decision.
5) Team up with a buddy for days out
Rope a friend in for moral support when you want to head out to the shops, for a day out, or when you have to run errands. Having someone you trust near you will help to ease fears of what will happen if you have a panic attack, and they can help out in social interactions if you need it. For more help with panic attacks, check out this list of things to remember in the moment if you are having a panic attack.
6) Grab a yoga mat and get some sun
Getting some vitamin D can be a great mood lifter, so heading into your garden with a yoga mat to stretch, practice some yoga routines, or even just take a little nap is a great way to get out of the house and lift your mood. Having anxiety shouldn’t have to mean you spend all summer inside!
If you’re going away…
7) Find quiet spots on holidays
It seems like no matter where you go these days, every holiday spot is packed full of tourists. Pushing through crowds, jostling for space on the beach and overcrowded transport can all add to the fairly constant general level of panic when you have anxiety. That’s why it’s important to do a little bit of research ahead of time, or even go for walks early in the morning when it’s less busy, to find spots that are quieter where you can chill.
8) Arm yourself with books and headphones for journeys
Planes, trains, buses and boats. They aren’t exactly the best part of going on holiday for anyone. Have a chill playlist on your phone and some decent noise cancelling headphones to get you through, as well as a good book or magazine to get stuck into. If reading isn’t your thing, download a few of your fave shows on Netflix before you head off, that way you have something to focus on and won’t feel too overwhelmed by the journey.
9) Have a plan for the airport
During the peak summer months, every airport can be pure hell. Everywhere is crowded, kids are crying, you can’t get a seat anywhere and there is not a table to be had at any restaurant or café. That’s why it’s pretty crucial to have an airport plan so you can get through this little blip in your trip without too much stress. Whether your plan is to find a table at Starbucks and set up camp or trying to keep moving by choosing the quietest place in duty free and having a wonder around, do what works for you.
10) Plan where you are going for food ahead of time
If eating out is a source of anxiety for you, take a look at some places before you go and have a list of recommended restaurants and cafes to hand. That way, when everyone can’t decide where to go, you can swoop in with some solutions where you know you will enjoy at least something on the menu, without the stress of deciding on the fly.
11) Take comfy clothes
Holiday anxiety can be compounded by swimsuit fear. Take a few items that remind you of home and are also super comfy and fit you how you feel comfortable. Maybe it’s a huge t shirt for bedtime or the baggiest of shorts for after the beach, as long as they make you feel safe, the swimsuit fear will dissipate. If you are struggling with your body image, here are 6 practical things you can do to improve it.
12) Practice some meditation before you go
Learn a few meditation bits and pieces before you go so you aren’t struggling with terrible wi-fi to get your guided meditation or fave yoga tutorials up on YouTube. Commit one or two to memory before boarding the plane and you’ll feel better knowing that you have at least one or two tools to help keep you calm and centred.
If you are struggling with anxiety, you can reach out to the Ditch the Label Community here and we will listen.