I suffered from anxiety for years. I was so used to feeling anxious and worried all the time that I didn't even know anything was wrong. I thought everyone felt that way!
It was not until I had an "episode" of crying for almost 24 hours ( about 5 years ago) that I decided it was time for me to do something about it. Mind you, I still had to be talked into going to a Doctor to have myself checked out, but deep down when I had the crying fit, I knew I needed help.
Long story short, I was diagnosed with an Anxiety Disorder with Mild Depression. They put me on some medication that made me gain 15 pounds and also increased my anxiety. I started doing my own research and basically learned how to manage my anxiety.
Five years later, I am almost anxiety free. I still get those feelings every now and then, but I have learned through exercises, diet, meditation, and self-love that I don't have to suffer in silence any more.
These tips are what I advise all of my coaching clients to start doing to off set the onset of anxiety. If you have severe anxiety it is always good to go to a Medical Practitioner and/or Therapist to have yourself checked out. Sometime medication is required if you have a chemical imbalance or other issues. But I still believe the tips below are just a good form of mental health and self-care. These tips can go a long way to beating the cycle of anxiety.
- Get Moving - I know that when I felt anxious or worried the last thing I wanted to do is any kind of movement. I wanted to stay in the house until the feeling past. But I learned over time that inactivity truly feeds anxiety. Even if you don't feel like leaving the house start moving. Put on some music and dance, walk around the house at a fast pace, start cleaning, do SOMETHING to get moving. You will find that the "happy hormones" serotonin, and endorphins (which actually help to block pain) will start flowing. You start to feel better. Going outside has even better benefits. You are getting fresh oxygen in the blood which helps to revitalize the brain and all the other organs. Going on a brisk walk during the day when you are feeling anxious is on of the best ways to get rid of that overwhelming feeling of worry.
- Make Sure You Have A Good Diet - It is so important to have a healthy diet if you are experiencing anxiety. Increase your protein. If you are a vegan eat Quinoa, Tofu or add Chia Seed to your meals. Increase your Omega 3 either through supplement or through Salmon, Flax Seed and nuts. Eating these foods can help reduce your feeling of anxiety. Eating to many sugary foods and processed foods can increase it. One of my favorite meals I like to have to keep that anxious feeling away is a large spinach salad with quinoa, red bell pepper, cucumbers, and avocado with olive oil and lemon...full of nutrients that help to lessen anxiety. Also you may want to cut caffeine consumption which can accelerate the feeling of anxiety. For me personally I have the opposite reaction. One cup of coffee used to help me feel less anxious. A good rule of thumb is - too much caffeine will definitely increase your feeling of anxiousness.
- Gratitude Journaling - I really believe in the benefits of gratitude journaling. My experience has been that it forced me to take my mind off of whatever it was that was causing the anxious thoughts. Gratitude journaling forced me to focus on the good in my life, no matter how small it might seem. Get a journal and begin by just listing three things (no matter how small) for which you are grateful. After awhile you will find it easier to write in your gratitude journal. Over time you will begin to look at things differently, even look for things to write about in your gratitude journal. Give it a try..you will be surprised how gratitude journaling will impact you, if you allow it.
- Get Plenty of Rest - I had problems sleeping when I was suffering with anxiety. I woke up about three to four times a night. Feelings of anxiety would wake me up in my sleep. I woke up in the morning exhausted and so anxious that I felt like I was on a roller coaster heading straight downhill with no seat belt. A horrible feeling. What finally stopped this vicious cycle was Chamomile Tea, Lavender Soy Candles, Hot Baths, and Lavender under my pillow. Sometimes I would take Melatonin a natural sleeping aide. Over time my sleep time increased and my anxiety in the mornings lessened significantly. I also found I rested better when I had exercised during the day.
- Meditation and Prayer - I can't emphasize enough how important it is to spend quiet time with God through meditation and prayer. At first for me it didn't work. I was almost too anxious to pray. But because I started doing all the other things listed above my prayer life and the ability to meditate increased. I happen to be a Christian but whatever you faith spending that quite time with the Creator is key to reducing your stress. Studies have shown that people who pray/meditate are less likely to have disease and mental illness. I am not surprised. Allowing yourself to spend quiet time and just be silent calms the body as well as the spirit. Spending quiet times allows the body to reboot itself, and allow you to connect with that inner voice...spirit that exists within all of us.