Having an anxiety disorder can be characterized as persistently and excessively worrying about things like disasters, money, health, family, work or any situation where you’re expecting the worst case scenario. Dealing with anxiety is something everyone has to do from time to time. Some, like myself, experience this almost daily at a level where it can become unbearable. Many professionals find that most anxiety, whether mild or extreme, comes from uncertainty, the inability to control the unknown, and worrying to prevent negative events from occurring. I can definitely relate to this since most of mine is caused by the inability to control certain situations and their outcome. While the constant worrying can feel uncomfortable and restricting, there are steps you can take to gain back control. Here are 10 ways that I go about dealing with anxiety.
Giving yourself some time away from all of your worries and stresses is essential when coping with anxiety.
Understanding what my anxiety triggers are, (relationship issues, workload, and other complexities in life), has helped me to cope with them. I take a little time out from the world and do things like yoga, meditation, and listen to my favorite music. These simple activities clear my mind and help calm me down. Finding a hobby you enjoy can also help you take a step back and process those unwanted and negative feelings.
While breathing seems obvious, when you’re having an anxiety attack you often forget to.
For me, anxiety can feel like I’m moving a mile per minute and then suddenly I crash. Penciling in a few moments each day to sit down and breathe full, deep breaths can bring about positive energy. Inhaling and exhaling deeply slows your heart rate, thoughts, and nerves to bring some much-needed relief. (Here are some deep breathing exercises that can help ease anxiety.)
Getting physically healthy can improve your mental health too.
Exercising daily helps me get my mind off my problems, and it’s done wonders for my anxiety in the long-term. Since I started focusing more on nurturing my health, my anxiety has gotten much better. If you’re just starting out, it’s best to set small goals for yourself such as making time each day to workout for 15-30 minutes. We all have a favorite way of getting fit, Kristie enjoys going to the gym, I enjoy doing yoga, and Nara (a previous blogger) loves hiking and doing yoga challenges. My point is, there’s no right or wrong way to get exercise, but the key is finding something that’s enjoyable and that you’re easily motivated to do.
Making a point to eat healthier doesn’t just affect your body, it affects your mind too.
Junk food and processed foods often slows me down, which makes me less likely to be active or truly feel mentally and physically healthy. Adding more fruits and veggies to my diet has made me feel more confident in my body and gives my mind more clarity. The nerves from anxiety and stress (especially when I’m busy working) can cause me to lose my appetite, (or even forget to eat). I make it a point to not skip any meals which can cause a drop in blood sugar and lead to a crash, which makes me feel worse. If I’m having a day with a ton of anxiety and have no appetite, I eat small meals that include my favorite foods so I have more of a desire to eat.
Replace negative feelings with positive ones.
Anxiety disorders are embodied by negative and intrusive thoughts making this the hardest strategy to practice. When I’m having an irrational worry, I try to focus on the positive factors that can come from it. Another way of going about this is practicing the The Law of Attraction. Essentially, it is believed that you manifest what you believe. If you’re constantly living with negative thoughts and feelings, you’re going to have negative experiences, and conversely, if you’re focusing on positive thoughts and feelings, then you’re going to have positive experiences.
Another way I go about gaining control is by using positive affirmations. The point of this is the more you tell yourself something, the sooner your mind will begin to believe it, which is true for both positive and negative thoughts. First thing in the morning, I like to start my day by saying an affirmation like, “Great things are coming to me today,” or “I have the ability to create anything that I want,” which sets the tone for the day. PS: I suggest picking up an affirmations deck of cards and keeping it with you. Get in the habit of saying them first thing in the morning, throughout the day, and right before bed. If you do this faithfully, you will see a huge shift in your thought process.
Keeping a journal or diary can help to process negative thoughts and feelings.
Whenever I’m having a panic attack or dealing with a ton of stress, I jot down everything I’m thinking. I go through each thought and try to find positive in it instead of focusing on the negative. Keeping a journal is also beneficial because I can go back and read it to learn more about what triggers my anxiety. This has helped me find patterns so I can take the necessary steps to change my thought process. Since I’ve been able to identify my triggers, I can often predict what is going to give me stress and deal with it before it happens. Any journal will do, but having one dedicated to dealing with anxiety like The Sunrise Manifesto Guided Morning Journal has helped me a lot.
Find a solid support system.
Having trustworthy friends and family, or even a therapist can help in many ways. For me, they put things into perspective and help me to gather my thoughts. It also feels good to be able to share how I’m feeling and receive advice from my trusted confidants. Think about the people closest to you and who you share your problems with. Are these people generally positive and upbeat, or are they always negative? When you get off the phone, do you feel better or worse? It’s going to be more beneficial for your mental health to surround yourself with the ones who make you feel energized and help to uplift your mood.
Caffeine or other stimulants like nicotine can trigger panic attacks and anxiety.
While this is a small tip, I have had to stop consuming caffeine all together because it caused my anxiety to go through the roof. I’ve learned that I’m highly sensitive to overstimulation and drinking caffeine causes me to get jumpy, unstable and overemotional. Of course, there are plenty of people who suffer from anxiety and can handle it, but it’s something to keep in mind when you’re trying to identify your triggers.
When you constantly deal with stress and anxiety, your body needs more sleep.
Since your mind and body exert a lot of energy when you have anxiety, getting enough sleep each night should be a top priority. I find that when I meditate before bed, I sleep a lot better. In the morning I awake feeling happier, healthier and more energetic. That energy usually carries me throughout the day. I’ve also noticed that I think more positively when I’m wide awake and I get more accomplished. Not having to worry about deadlines makes my anxiety decrease.
Practicing self-care and loving yourself will do a myriad of good for your body and brain.
As long as you’re doing your best, you should never criticize yourself for not achieving unattainable perfection. This goes hand in hand with recognizing that you can’t control everything. Worrying can get in the way of reaching new and exciting opportunities. When it comes to practicing self-care this is the hardest step for me to follow. Since a lot of my anxiety stems from perfectionism, trusting that I will never be perfect and I will make mistakes has helped me come to terms with it. Instead of getting down on myself for these things that are entirely human, I look at what I am doing right, instead of what I’m doing wrong.
When you’re stressed or you’re having an anxiety filled day, create a list of things you enjoy that will bring you happiness (here are mine), and think about the products that will help you…like a back massage pillow, or hemp balm for sore muscles. Then, set aside an hour each day that’s just for you.
We want to continue talking about mental health. Do you suffer from anxiety and/or stress-induced insomnia? What are some things that have helped you and what makes it worse?
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