Just like a lot of folks these days, I have struggled from anxiety for most of my life. For years, I was embarrassed of my condition. I would try and hide the fact that I was having anxiety attacks; I’d go to a bathroom, for a drive or even just walk away from situations that would cause it. In hindsight, walking away from these situations probably helped me a lot. However, I wasn’t doing it to try and calm my anxiety and I wasn’t distancing myself from triggers, I was hiding the fact that I was having an attack.
There is NO shame in having a lot of anxiety. If you feel like you need help, please reach out when needed. I am not a doctor and I’m not here to diagnose nor treat any condition. This is simply a list of what has helped me throughout the years.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 4-7-8 breathing method, it is used specifically to help calm you down or fall asleep. You simply breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds and breathe out for 8 seconds. Repeat this until you are relaxed.
2.USE ALL YOUR SENSES
Pay attention to your surroundings – pinpoint all of the little things. Point out 5 things that you can see, notice the noises around you, touch something warm or cold (a hot tea cup or a cold glass of water), pay attention to what you can smell as you are doing your breathing exercises and find something to eat; a stick of gum or a breath mint. I find that when you combine using all 5 of your senses, especially while completing your breathing exercises, it does a fantastic job of calming you back down and bringing you back to reality.
3. DRINK A GLASS OF WATER
This probably sounds like the simplest of solutions, but honestly I feel like drinking a glass of ice water after an anxiety attack calms my body down so much. I go from being warm and flustered to finally cooling off in a matter of minutes.
4.CREATE AN ANTI-ANXIETY PLAYLIST
Make a playlist of grounding music. Nature sounds, classical, maybe even throw some guided meditation recordings in there. Have this playlist easily accessible for when you need to relax quickly.
5.FIGURE OUT WHAT’S WRONG
While most of the time anxiety has a very obvious cause, sometimes that is not the case. There were many times that I would have a sudden anxiety attack and I had no idea why I was having one. I’d be walking, driving, even watching tv and suddenly things were going down hill. Our brains are ALWAYS on the go. Even when we are spaced out, we are still thinking. Overthinking was honestly one of the main causes of my anxiety. More often than not, it would take me a little while to figure out what exactly was causing my attacks. Once I was able to figure out what was causing it, I was able to figure out how to calm myself down, get a plan in place to fix whatever issue I was having, and keeping the anxiety away.
6. ASK YOURSELF IF YOU CAN CONTROL THE SITUATION
Not everything is under your control. You cannot control what other people think, feel or say. You cannot control the weather, or what happens around you. If you cannot control a situation, DO NOT let it consume you. Also, remember that when you cannot control, you can react. If someone does or says something that negatively affects you, the way you react can make a whole world of change. You can choose to let these things get you down and stress you out, which is exactly what is going to cause an anxiety attack. Or, you can accept the situation as it is, since you have no control over it, and let things play out exactly how they are meant to be.
7.TALK IT OUT
Sometimes, the answer is as simple as getting a fresh perspective. Find someone you trust and talk it out. Also, if they are shining different options upon you, remember not to take offense. They are trying to help you.
8. DO A BRAIN DUMP
Brain dumping is one of my all time favorite anxiety attack hacks. Get a piece of paper and start writing. Pay no mind to grammar, or punctuation, or the clock. Let the words run freely from your mind to the paper.
9.ACCEPT THE SITUATION
Kind of touching back to knowing if you can or cannot control the situation, learning to accept it will also help a vast amount. If you cannot control whatever is going on, then the only thing you have left to do… is accept it. I know it is easier said than done, trust me. To this day, I still sometimes have issues with this. But, once I do truly accept it, it feels like there is a weight lifted off of my shoulders.
10.KNOW THAT IT IS GOING TO BE OKAY
Finally, know that no matter what you are going through, things will play out exactly how they are supposed to. Whether you believe it’s God, the universe or just plain luck; know that it will be okay.
I’ve spent the past year focusing on my mental health and wellbeing. These next 20 items are things I feel have helped me immensely, especially when it comes to lowering my anxiety.
In a perfect world, I’d journal every day. However, as I’m sure you’re aware, making time to do everything that you really want to do daily is near impossible. For this reason, I make it a goal to journal 3 times a week at minimum. I’d love to have time to express my thoughts and feelings daily, and I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be able to do so. I am positive that getting everything off my chest and on to paper has greatly aided in lowering my anxiety.
2. DO YOGA
This may not work for everyone. However, I personally feel that whenever I take time to myself regularly, even if it’s just 15 minutes a day, that I am more spiritually connected. That alone helps me remain calm.
For years I thought meditation was sitting on a pillow, folding your legs and saying om over and over again. I’ve recently broadened my horizons when it comes to this and I’ve embraced all of the many benefits of meditation. Reading,coloring, running, just laying down – there are so many different ways to meditate and it is different for everyone. Find which way is best for you, and embrace that. It will leave your mind at ease and help relieve some pressure you may be feeling.
4. USE AROMATHERAPY
It is a proven fact that certain scents trigger certain different things in our brains. Lavender, for example. Many sleeping and/or calming aids are lavender scented due to the fact that it is known to relax you.
There are many different anti-anxiety combinations that can be made with essential oils. Take some time to experiment and discover which one best suits you and start using that mixture regularly. Diffuse it, put it in a lotion, make a roller bottle of it.. do whatever you like best.
5. LOVE YOURSELF
If nothing else, I hope that this point is the one you take to heart from the article. Love yourself, who you are and who you’re becoming. A lot of anxiety is caused by not loving or trusting yourself, and that is why it is sometimes so painful.
This one will not apply to everyone, however I feel when I was smoking I had 5x as many anxiety attacks. I smoked my last cigarette 3 months ago and have since found a sense of mental clarity that was not there before. I can think more clearly in a time of crisis thus limiting my chances of having anxiety attacks.
7.CHANGE YOUR DIET
In recent years, more and more studies have shown a direct impact on brain function based on what foods we are putting into our bodies. Now, I understand that not every lifestyle works for everyone, especially when there are medical conditions limiting them. However, take some time and research the foods you eat, look at labels and decide what you do and do not what to put into your body and make changes as necessary. Many of the chemicals used as preservatives, colorings and flavorings today are directly linked with bean function and cutting those things out could dramatically decrease the number of anxiety attacks you have.
8.GET ENOUGH SLEEP
It is no secret that most humans need at leave I hours of sleep on order to function properly. This is no different when it comes to anxiety. Do right by your mind and body, and get the sleep. That last episode can wait.
Your physical being plays a huge factor in your emotional being. I’m not saying you need to be thin and eat by a specific set of rules, however keep in mind that food is fuel. In order for your mind to function properly, you need to fuel it properly.
10. AVOID TRIGGERS
I know it is easier said thank done, but if you avoid the things that you know for a fact cause anxiety, then you are one step closer to riding yourself of anxiety all together. Don’t put yourself in badpositions, it will hurt in more way than one.
11.SPEND TIME WITH NATURE
Many people find nature to be relaxing and therapeutic; I am one of those people. Hiking, fishing, camping – however you choose to do it, embrace it. Put your phone away. You don’t need pictures, your friends can wait and that phone call is not that important. Unless there is an urgent matter at hand from which you need your phone on you, leave it alone. Let yourself embrace all of the benefits of spending time outside.
12.FACE YOUR FEARS
“My anxiety is caused by my fears, why would I put myself in that position. didn’t you say stay away from triggers?”
Yes. Yes I did. If something causes your anxiety but there is a clear solution, face it! If you work past these fears they will no longer cause you anxiety. In fact, they will give you the confidence you need to face another and another.
13.FOCUS ON THE GOOD THINGS
It is so easy to focus on the bad things in life. For a lot of people, those things are the only things they acknowledge. Imagine how much peaceful life would be if we shifted our energy from focusing on the bad things to being thankful for the good things.. maybe even trying to turn those bad things into good things.
Anxiety isn’t as simple as it may seem. Take the time to educate yourself on the causes, symptoms and treatment just as you would any other heath problem.
15.LIMIT TIME ON YOUR PHONE/SOCIAL MEDIA
How much time a day do you spend mindlessly scrolling through Facebook? What about twitter? Tumblr? What if you took that time and put it towards something that will help you out in the long run?
Take a moment and ask yourself: what is something tthat I have been meaning to do, but haven’t gotten around to? Now is the time to go do it. Get those things done before your to do list is a mile long simply because you got stuck deep down in YouTube for 3 hours straight. We’ve all been there, now is the time to do something about it.
16.FIND A SELF CARE ROUTINE
My morning routine goes as follows:
6:45 – alarm clock goes off
7 – get out of bed – start coffee – turn on guided meditation.
7:15 – Yoga
7:30 – Meditate
7:45 – Read
8 – Get ready for work and begin my day.
The reason why I am telling you this is because ever since i have incorporated self care into my mornings, my days seem to go much smoother and I feel less stressed. I actually look forward to my morning routine. I’m not saying this has to be done first thing, but make time for yourself, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the results.
17.WAKE UP EARLIER
You have work at 9, it’s a 45 minute commute so you set your alarm for 7. You’re in a rush getting ready, just like every morning, and you forget your phone. Since you need your phone to properly do your job, you turn around to get it and now you’re late for work.
Had you set your alarm for 6:45, you’d not have been in such a rush. You could slow down a little and give your brain time to think so you remember everything. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier and allow yourself that extra time.
Don’t allow your entire day to be thrown off and stressful for an extra 15 minutes of sleep, it is not worth it.
18.SAY NO MORE OFTEN
Say it aloud: no. Feels great, doesn’t it?
I cant even begin to tell you how much of my anxiety waa caused by my willingness to please others. By putting myself first, I’ve not only lowered the amount of anxiety I experience, but I also find a greater joy in life. You do not always have to do everything for everyone. Say no. Say it loud and proud, and learn not to regret it.
19.MAKE A LIST
I’m such a list person, y’all. Grocery lists, to do lists, shopping lists. gyst lists, research lists, book lists. The note section of my phone is filled with a list for everything. Having your lists written down instead of your head will help you prevent the brain fog caused by keeping all of these thing in.
20. STOP PROCRASTINATING
Procrastination is a clear sign that something is wrong. In addition to it being a sign on an underlying problem, it also causes stress thus increasing your chances of having additional anxiety attacks. By forcing your self to get things done you are eliminating that, therefore lowering the number of overall anxiety attacks you’ll have.
BONUS – BLOG ABOUT IT
I have started a million and one articles just to get things off my chest and it helps so much! Write about it, blog about it, yell and scream about it. Give yourself time to react and feel the emotions that you are feeling. Suppressing the emotions that you are feeling will only make matters worse.