Most people struggling with anxiety know that it is important to make a game plan for dealing with it head on when those first symptoms strike. The nausea, racing heartbeat, sweating, and light-headedness are little signs that a full blown panic attack could happen at any moment. Is it possible to stop an anxiety attack from happening after the symptoms emerge? In my opinion, the answer is YES. Am I saying these tips will ward off an attack every time? No, but I do think these tips will make living with anxiety a lot more manageable. For me, when my anxiety is triggered my whole world feels smaller.
Recently, I was invited to go to London, Greece, Vietnam and Russia with my Best Friend. I had to turn down the invitation primarily because my anxiety had gotten so bad that things like driving and traveling were just not an option for me. It’s a horrible feeling when you have to decline invites with friends and family all because of anxiety.
The following tips have helped me with my own struggles and I hope by sharing them, others may possibly find some relief as well. Anxiety is not one size fits all. What triggers me may not be what triggers you. And, what alleviates my symptoms may be different from what works for you. Still, I encourage everyone to try these tips and even rework them to fit your personal needs.
1. TALK TO SOMEONE
Whether it is a life coach, therapist, friend or family member, it is important to have support when managing anxiety. I have one particular friend who I always call when I am driving and starting to feel an attack arise. Just hearing her voice calms me down and comforts me. I truly believe that talking about your feelings allows you to release them. So, the next time you are feeling anxious, call a friend and ask them to listen.
For me personally, movement is essential for dealing with my anxiety. If I start off my day with some exercise, it makes me feel strong and energetic. Even when I am not feeling my best, a simple walk will put me in a better headspace. I highly encourage people to try yoga if they haven’t already. Yoga helps me connect my mind with my my body and allows me to release tension. Find the exercise that makes you feel the best, and JUST DO IT!
3. Eating Clean
I love food! I can easily stuff myself with vegan burgers and pizza if I am not careful. And even though these foods are vegan that doesn’t make them healthy. Whether you are vegan or not, eating a CLEAN diet (no processed food) really helps keep symptoms under control. There have been a lot of recent studies linking anxiety with gut health and I am inclined to believe them. So when it comes to food, eat simple and clean.
Not long ago, a lot of people thought meditation was just for hippies. Nowadays, CEOs, athletes, and even politicians are hailing the benefits of meditation. If you are new to meditation, try to meditate five minutes right after you wake up and five minutes before you go to bed. Set a timer, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. You can gradually increase the duration as you become more comfortable. I also love the app Headspace. They have great guided meditations and the app is ideally suited for beginners.
I like to track how I am feeling on a daily basis. Just like someone would journal what they are eating if they were on a diet, writing down how you are feeling is really helpful when managing anxiety. Keep a journal by your bed and before you go to sleep, jot down how you felt that day. Also, if you are working with a life coach or therapist make sure to share what you write with them. It will help them better serve your current needs.
Music can change your mood. Create a playlist of your favorite upbeat and uplifting songs. Choose songs that make you feel happy. The first song on my playlist is “Cant Stop the Feeling” by Justin Timberlake. Any songs that make you want to dance are good choices. Whenever I feel anxious one of the first things I will do is try to “dance” it out.
7. Audible and Podcasts
When I am walking in the mornings, I love to listen audible books. I always choose inspiring content. My current favorite is “The 5 Second Rule” by Mel Robbins. She has several chapters dedicated to managing anxiety. So throw on some running shoes, get moving, listen, and learn.
It’s a good idea to get a blood test to see if you need to supplement your diet with any additional vitamins and minerals. My favorite supplement to calm anxiety is Magnesium. I take it in powdered form with water before bed and it also helps me sleep better. My favorite brand is called “Calm” and can be found in most health food stores.
9. Essential Oils
Lavender essential oil in particular is a very calming scent. I use lavender oil in my Epsom salt baths to relax my mind while I am soaking. You can also dab some on your temples and wrists any time of day if you are feeling stressed or anxious. Scent can be a powerful tool when dealing with anxiety, so find a blend that works for you.
This one is key for me. It doesn’t matter what your faith is, simply that you lean into whatever faith speaks to you. Whenever I pray I feel more connected to myself and others. I am reminded that I am not alone, I am loved, and I am safe.