If you’ve read this recent post of mine, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling with my anxiety recently. Now, I’ve had anxiety for years and I’m pretty used to the ups and downs of this particular mental illness, but the this particular ‘blip’ was a particularly intense one.
My first question was why. Why was my anxiety so bad? What had happened to trigger it like this? Was there any particular incident or incidents that I could trace back in a neat and succinct line and say “ah, that’s where it started”? This is my normal first step in the face of an anxiety crisis. Usually, there is some merit in this–maybe I’ve had a really hectic, stressful time of it lately, or not a lot of space to chill. But this time…nothing. There is nothing I can particularly pinpoint as being absolutely awful, just a barrage of teeny not-that-stressful occurrences that have somehow added up to a big ball of anxiety.
My next (and probably) most prominent thought was how do I stop this? How do I get back to calm and happy version of myself? I did my usual routine–exercise, having a few days off, trying to get a good nights sleep. But nothing I did worked. I found myself sinking deeper and deeper into this kind of void, one that seemed impossible to escape and was making me more on edge by the day. I’m a pretty type-A person. I like hitting deadlines and not cancelling and being reliable. And that fact that my anxiety was so bad I wasn’t able to do all of those things made me even more anxious. BASICALLY, I was on an anxiety hamster wheel.
So I did the thing I dread doing, the thing that I tried to avoid for ages. I phoned the doctor, I upped my meds, and I made an appointment. I’ve hated doing that for so many years. Because of the whole type-A personality again, it feels like a failure, like I’m giving into anxiety.
But this time, it was a relief. I felt like had done something to stem the downward spiral I found myself in. And this brings me to the tenuous link between this blogpost and its title. In the midst of all this horribleness, I was frantically googling things like ‘HOW TO STOP ANXIETY’ and ‘THINGS THAT HELP PANIC ATTACKS’, and I stumbled across a tip that said lavender plants are good for anxiety.
At this point, I was desperate to try anything. So I brought a lavender plant or two. Now, I’m no gardener, I know zilch about plants and as a writer/PhD student I spend a lot of time inside. But for some reason, these lavender plants made me smile. I felt calmer, the simple act of watering them provided a sort-of routine, and the greenery brightened up my mood, and my room.
I’m not saying that lavender plants (or any plants) are a cure-all fix for mental illness, but they have really helped me to get myself through this anxiety rut. Obvs this is a totally non-scientific experiment based on a 3am insomnia driven internet search, and is probably more proof of the existence of the placebo effect than a link between lavender and anxiety BUT if your usual methods of calming down aren’t working, or you’re still waiting to see your GP, why not try something new? (I recommend lavender plants wholeheartedly.)