With increasing costs adding to the challenges people are facing, feeling emotionally drained, angry, or worried is understandable.
It can be difficult to stop anxious thoughts from becoming intrusive, but there are some steps you can take to help you look after your mental health.
If you feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts or are thinking about harming yourself in any way, please do not struggle alone. Speak to your GP so they can help you get the help you need. You might also want to consider talking to a free listening support service like the Samaritans (call 116 123 for free, 24 hours a day).
1) Accept that anxiety can affect you physically
It is normal for fear to trigger our natural 'fight or flight' response, preparing us to 'fight' or take 'flight' to run away from danger. This makes your heart beat faster and floods your body with adrenaline, which can make you feel sweaty, dizzy and short of breath.
2) Regain control by focusing on your breathing.
Try this technique to calm your mind and body:
Rest one hand on your chest and the other hand on your stomach.
Breathing normally, notice your chest and stomach moving under each hand.
Now imagine you have a balloon under each hand. As you breathe in through your nose, focus on inflating the balloons equally (it may take a few attempts to get the hang of it).
Move on to focusing on the ‘balloons’ deflating equally as you breathe out. Do this for however long feels comfortable to help you regain a sense of control.
3) Use an app to provide some calm time
If you are finding that anxiety is affecting your sleep, try using music or a mindfulness app to help you rest. Lots of different apps are available, but check if there will be charges to pay before you sign up.
4) Talk to somebody
It can really help to share your worries with a member of your renal team or a family member or friend who is calm and understanding.
Kidney Care UK's advocacy team understand the pressures of living with kidney disease and are always available to listen and support you. Get in touch to arrange a chat with your local advocacy officer.
Don't allow yourself to become isolated with your concerns. Whatever your needs, we're here for you.
5) Practise mindfulness
If thoughts become overwhelming, take a walk or engage in a practical activity. Make sure you focus on the physical task and keep in the moment.
6) Try allocating a specific time to worry
Worrying can easily take over your every thought.
Whenever a worry comes into your head, don’t focus on it – just write it down and try to get on with your day. At a set time, read your notes. This will provide a controlled environment for you to consider what is causing you to feel anxious, nervous or concerned and allow your mind to be free from constant negative thoughts.
Acknowledge that you are doing the very best you can to cope at this time. Repeat this out loud (or in your head): ‘I am doing the very best I can at this time’ in order to challenge and stop intrusive thoughts. Most importantly, follow the advice of your renal team and do not panic.
More strategies to help you manage stress and anxiety
- Our advice and information page about coping with a kidney failure diagnosis offers advice and tips. You can also download our Emotional Resilience leaflet.
- Kidney Care UK's Lead Counsellor, Jackie Pilcher, shares advice about turning negative thinking into positive thinking in difficult times. This can help us to feel empowered and remind us that even when our options are limited, we still have choices.
- Find out more about depression and how to get the help you need.
Additional support for people living with kidney disease
Remember, if you are struggling, you don’t have to suffer in silence. We are here for everyone affected by kidney disease, with emotional, financial and practical support.
If you need financial support, our grants team may be able to help towards domestic costs, household items, travel expenses and training / qualification expenses.