Many people struggle with anxiety. It’s more difficult than most people realize. It’s not simply “worrying”, it’s so much more. Personally, I have severe generalized anxiety disorder and it’s a daily struggle, (some days more than others). I am always looking for natural ways to manage it.
As with most things, what works for one person may not work for another. Here are some of the best ways that I personally help manage my own anxiety:
This is one of better ways to manage anxiety for the long-term. It doesn’t always work right away. Consistent exercise though, (at least 4 days a week), does help manage some of the symptoms of anxiety. I know there are lots of people struggling with social anxiety, but don’t worry – there are a lot of exercises you can do at home with no equipment. Find a workout you love. There are lots of workout videos on YouTube.
I find that I enjoy switching up workouts. Yoga & Pilates are great :). Also, at the gym, I like to spend at least 25 minutes on an elliptical at least 3 days a week. But, like I said, find what works for you.
This is so important and it’s good for EVERYONE, not just those suffering with anxiety. Practicing daily self-care seems to just make you happier. There are lots of ways to do this. A relaxing detox bath is a fantastic way to de-stress and help manage anxiety. Taking care of yourself is paramount to managing anxiety. Try various ways, (giving yourself a facial, being out in nature, ect).
Avoid your Triggers whenever Possible
Sometimes, avoiding anxiety triggers is simple impossible. There are just certain things we all have to do. Lots of traffic tends to be a big trigger for me, but that is just simply unavoidable at times. Only confront your triggers when you have to, or when it’s worth it. And – KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS. They are different for everyone.
Okay, so I used to call bullshit on this but it does really help me. Saying positive affirmations out loud, even in front of a mirror is a great way to wire your brain to be more positive. I like to write some down on Post-it notes and put them around the house.
I have a go-to breathing exercise that has stopped nearly 20+ panic attacks. It goes: 1.) Inhale for 7 seconds, 2.) Hold breath for 8 seconds, 3.) Exhale for 8 seconds & REPEAT. This breathing exercise works wonders for my anxiety but there are a lot out there. Simply practicing deep breathing helps as well :).
Get your 8+ Hours of Zzz’s
Sleep is so IMPORTANT. Think of your body like a computer – it needs a reboot. Sleep will provide that. Since I also have insomnia, getting those 8+ hours can be a challenge, but there are also ways around that that I’ll discuss in a later post. Sufficient sleep can aid in managing your anxiety because your brain has had time to ‘reboot’ itself.
I actually keep an anxiety journal to help document what I’m experiencing when my anxiety is at it’s worst. Write down what’s bothering you, how your feeling, what you’re experiencing, (physically, emotionally ect). Documenting your experiences with anxiety is a great way to not only establish what your biggest triggers are, but also can help relieve anxiety just by getting it off your chest. Plus – it’s giving you something to focus on.
Keep a lookout for Journal Prompt posts also 🙂
Take a shower and adjust the temperature periodically. Warm to cold, cold to warm. This works for me as it gives me something to physically feel and brings me into the present moment instead of focusing on the effects of my anxiety.
Cut out Negative People
If someone is always complaining and generally just negative – cut them out. It’s not selfish. Negativity can be a huge anxiety trigger for many people, (including me). If there is someone in your life who is just always negative, there is no reason to keep them around.
Diffuse some Lavender Essential Oil
Lavender is known to be calming and it does work. Put some in your diffuser and inhale. It really will help calm you down. Sometimes just breathing in pleasing aromas is helpful – as it gets your mind focused on your surroundings. Other oils that help manage my anxiety are:
- Ylang Ylang
This is key for my anxiety, personally. Lots of times, my anxiety is triggered by thoughts of scenarios that are just highly unlikely. If I hear odd noises when I’m alone – I somehow always think the worst. Rationalizing my surroundings has helped me so much. Writing it down helps also. When your anxiety is suffocating you, really stop to think about questions like:
- Am I really in any danger?
- What is actually the worst that could happen at this moment? (Realistically, not things you’ve dreamed up).
- Am I overthinking again?
- Am I being too critical of myself?
- Do I have a way to currently calm myself down?
Create an ‘Anxiety Toolkit’
This is something that is fairly new to me but was recommended by my doctor. You can create a lot of variations of this but the general rule is to add:
- Something you can feel. (Stress balls, and my personal go-to: a ‘worry stone’).
- Something you can see. (Positive imagery is highly helpful. Things like: photographs of people you love, your favorite things, favorite places, ect).
- Something you can taste. (Peppermints, gum, any little candies or treats).
I’ll do a more in-depth post about this later. It truly is helpful to have around when your anxiety just won’t relent. There are lots of fun ways to create an anxiety ‘tool kit’ that is specifically rendered for you 🙂
Music and/or Relaxing Sounds
Hearing something other than those crippling anxious thoughts will help you. I have several ‘Anxiety Aiding Playlists’ on my Spotify that I’ll share with you in other posts. Sounds other than music are great too: sound of running water, a crackling fire or rain sounds are personally helpful for me. There are lots of free apps you can download for this types of sounds. My favorite app is Relaxing Sounds, Sleep Easy. There are lots of options.
Watch something you Love
I’m a bit of an oddball when it comes to this one but Horror Movies really help relax my anxiety. I think it works like: Yeah, I’m experiencing high levels of anxiety but at least I’m not being chased by cannibalistic mutants” sort of thing. Hey – it works for me.
If that doesn’t work for you, watch something that’s uplifting or anything you love. It can help get your mind off of your own thoughts and help you get centered.
Random facts sometimes help calm my anxiety. I keep a list of facts in the notes section of my phone and just reading them has been extremely helpful in certain situations. Examples of some of the facts I have listed:
- A woman’s heart generally beats faster than a man’s.
- Animals dream too.
- You share your birthday with at least 9 million others in the world.
- Like fingerprints, your tongue has a unique print.
- Millions of people suffer from anxiety disorders in the US alone.
If I’m really anxious at home, sometimes I just start looking up “interesting facts”.
Talk it out
Have a strong support system. At first, it was hard for me to admit to people that I suffered from severe anxiety. It took a long time for me to accept it and to realize that I needed help managing, (from more than just my doctor). A strong support system is essential. Nobody can get through life alone and nobody can manage their anxiety alone (all the time, anyways). My guy has been extremely helpful in talking me through bad anxiety days but he can’t always be around. Call a relative, phone a friend – talk to people. Secluding yourself during bad episodes of anxiety usually makes it worse.
Bust out the chamomile tea – it will help naturally relax you and, therefore, help manage your anxiety. I like to drink a wide variety of tea throughout the day. It really does help me stay focused and in the moment so my mind doesn’t go wondering off, looking for things to worry about. Here are some other great teas to consider, to help manage anxiety:
- Green Tea
- Yogi Honey-Lavender Stress Relief Tea
- Mint Tea
Soak in some Sun
Spending time in the sun, I’ve found, really does manage my anxiety. I should note that I also have a vitamin D deficiency that I have to take those huge prescription vitamin D pills for – ugh. But, there have been a lot of studies that link vitamin D deficiency to anxiety and depression. Go outside in the sun, (if you’re able), even if it’s only for fifteen minutes. Fresh air and sunlight are great for boosting the mood and calming anxious nerves 🙂
Adult coloring is great. It helps relax and takes your focus from your anxious thoughts to staying inside the lines. I know, it sounds silly, but it truly does calm my anxiety 🙂
Read – Read & Read some more
Seeing a pattern? Sometimes just doing something that requires focus will really help manage your anxiety. I know a lot of people who find it helpful to read about anxiety in order to calm it. It has helped me in the past, but I just say read anything you enjoy 🙂
Don’t spend so much time on social media
Social media is great and all but there have been lots of times it heightens my anxiety. I think it has to do with comparison. You see a friend you went to high school with buying something new every week and you start downplaying your own life. This is in NO way healthy. There are some people who literally live on social media. Just avoid it if you tend you have worse anxiety the more time you spend on it. Remember though: People post their best experiences – not their worst. We all have problems and your old pal Linda from high school – she’s got issues to. Don’t fixate on the idea that certain people have flawless lives. They don’t!
Limit the Caffeine
I used to be a HUGE Mountain Dew drinker. About a year or so ago, I noticed that whenever I would drink a lot of it – my anxiety would go through the roof. (I’m not one of those people who like to follow suggestions all the time & I’m working on that). Caffeine has been known to increase anxiety levels. No more Red Bull for me, sadly. However, it truly does make a difference.
I’m one of those people that always used to just wing it. I thought I could keep up with everything I had to do everyday without any sort of planning or routine. This used to contribute worsening my anxiety. Routines and – A PLANNER – have truly changed my life. And, not to sound like a weirdo, but it does feel great to have a to-do list everyday and at the end of the day, looking at everything I’ve crossed off. This has dramatically helped me manage my anxiety. I recommend anyone that suffers from any form of anxiety shouldn’t just wing it, (like I used to). It’s chaotic and gives your anxiety that much more room to creep up and bite you in the ass. Plan your day – have routines – stay organized. It helps give you en element of control that is great for dealing with anxiety.
Healthy-eating is really life changing. There are lots of foods that have been said to help manage anxiety as well. Foods with magnesium, omega 3’s and vitamin D, are thought to help lower anxiety levels. When you put a bunch of crap in your system, (McDonald’s..), you’re going to feel crappy. Eating healthy has really helped me better manage my anxiety over time.
I know – everybody says meditation helps. I have recently been trying it and have no quite mastered it yet, so it’s not been a huge help for me. However, I did find that doing some guided meditations through YouTube have been beneficial. I’m not giving up on this one because I have started to notice it does help. It works for lots of people 🙂
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor and personally suffer from severe anxiety myself. I am, in no way, advising you not to take your medication. I still do but these are just other ways to manage your anxiety – in addition to what your doctor has already advised (if you have one).
These anxiety management techniques do work for me. I hope that some of them will work for you. 🙂
And, it’s also important to note that you are not alone in your suffering. Millions of people have anxiety. (Sometimes that knowledge alone has helped me cope).
Keep Living that healthy Life 🙂