10 Tips to beat the Mean Reds

When Holly Golightly gets the Mean Reds, she heads for Tiffany's with a cup of coffee and a croissant. 

I've made no secret of the fact that the last couple of months haven't been easy for me. I'll  go one step further and admit that I was suffering from anxiety and panic attacks. I have always been inclined to worry, over analyse and stress, but this was the first time it had been anywhere near as bad or serious. At first I was confused and ashamed of my condition. I've always prided myself on being a capable person, who could push through any sort of challenge no matter how difficult. I did that terrible thing of keeping it to myself and suffering alone in what was an already lonely and isolated place. What surprised  and comforted me when I did finally confess, was that so many other people were ready to admit that they too had suffered from anxiety in some shape or form. So, this is why I'm speaking out, so that people know that they're not alone in this.

Anxiety can be triggered by so many things and isn't necessarily a long-term problem. The most obvious situations that come to mind are exams, living abroad, relationships and trying to plan for the future. I find that when I've had a full on week, with hardly anytime to myself, my body starts to react. Seeing as it's the exam season and my social networking fees are full of stressed-out friends trying to revise, I thought I'd compile a list of things that have helped me recently whenever I have felt anxious or stressed. 

1) Pray/Meditate: my first port of call is always prayer, but if you don't believe in God, then perhaps just sitting still and quiet, whilst listening to soothing music or dwelling on good memories will put you in a more positive frame of mind.

2) Exercise: release those endorphines and get those sleepy muscles moving. I really love going swimming for all the reasons mentioned in this article, it really helps me sort through all the craziness going on in my head. If I don't want to think about anything then Insanity is a really great work out. 40 minutes of just good breathing, good exercise and no space to think about anything but DIGGING DEEPER.

3) Cook Something: find a cool recipe or just be spontaneous. Get up from your desk, go the shop or the market, treat yourself to really healthy, wholesome ingredients and a little bit of chocolate, then come home, put on some music and take time cooking it all. Then eat it with friends or by yourself watching your favourite tv-show.

4) Talk to Someone: if you're abroad then organise a skype, or check to see whether one of your closest friends is on Facebook chat. Alternatively you can pick up the phone and the ring that person on speed dial.Whether you need to ask for help, encouragement or just need a listening ear, talking to someone often helps me put my problems into perspective.

5) Meet Someone for Coffee: this is quite Year Abroad specific, but it doesn't have to be. Whenever things get a bit overwhelming, I dig out my phone and text that new person I met at that film showing/church meeting/friend's party and see whether they want to grab a coffee. Making a new friend, speaking that foreign language and discovering a new part of the city always puts me in a better mood. I feel like I've achieved something and I had fun at the same time.

6) Get on with the little jobs that are stressing you out: I'm the kinda girl who will live in a sty of clothes, books, paper and dishes, whilst I try to study, write an essay or complete admin. I know tidying your room is often labeled procrastination, but it REALLY helps to have a tidy space. There are other little jobs like sending off forms, booking flights, emailing that person, phoning that other person, buying toothpaste or finishing a piece of work. Get rid of those horrible lingering pressures by just sitting down and getting it done. YOU WILL FEEL MUCH BETTER.

7) Have a shower and belt out some tunes:  we all get a bit lazy with hygiene when we're feeling a bit low or are going through a stressful time. It's worth it, trust me. The singing is optional, but who doesn't love a good ole' sing in the shower?

8) Put on some music and dance: there are times when I'll be sat at my laptop freaking out about something and I've found that just getting up, donning my headphones and prancing about to musicals for 15 minutes is incredibly releasing. It's a shot of exercise, with a sprinkle of feel-good tunes. 

9) Do something you love: over the past month I have found my refuge in the theatre and in the cinema. Whenever I felt a bit down, lonely or homesick I just took myself off and escaped into the world of the stage or screen. I actually really enjoy going to the cinema on my own, it's so immersive and you don't have to talk about it unless you want to. That's not to say I wouldn't mind company, it's just is what it is and if I didn't go alone, then I wouldn't go at all! Invest in things you love doing, whether it's sport, live music, a beer with friends, reading for fun, dancing, painting. Make time for these things during the stressful periods of your life and it'll make you feel more human.

10) Write it down: write a letter to a friend or a note in a journal. I find this really helps me to organise my thoughts and find out exactly what it is that I'm afraid of or thinking too much about. It's also great to look back through your previous entries and see how much you've moved forward. 

Whatever you do, don't face it alone. Just know that so many people are going through something similar and that pretty much everybody will be willing to help. Just be brave, be honest and things will slowly start getting better. ALL THE BEST!


  1. Ellie this is the best post ive read this entire week, totally helped out by the fact that audrey makes a cameo. Reminded me to not get so caught up in anxiety... Glass half full and all that ;)

  2. I hope you realise how important & mind opening your honesty is!! Your blog is such a beautiful thing, and especially posts like these seem to be a friend that I've never met speaking. Please remember that there are people (me!) who find lots of truth and comfort in your writing. And thank you for that fact! : )

  3. I love this post. I've been where you were and I agree with every single thing you pointed out but sometimes is so difficult just understand that you need to do that stuff. And I'm sure that write it out as you've done could really help a lot of people :)