Everyone experiences anxiety. It’s a natural way for your body to cope during high stress times in your life, when experiencing a fear, and even just from your own thought process. However, some people experience extreme bouts of anxiety accompanied with panic attacks, physical symptoms, and an overwhelming feeling that you are going to lose it at any moment. I was shaking so bad during an attack once, that I couldn’t even hold a bag of apples and had to leave the grocery store. Anxiety is quite a funny topic; many people think it is all in your head or that you should be able to just “shut it off”. Unfortunately, you can’t just make it go away if you have a serious anxiety disorder.
I have been on and off medications since I was 15, struggled with depression as a result of feeling alone and afraid that I would never feel normal again. I barely left my house when I was teenager for a period of 3 months and was in an extreme state of paranoia about having more panic attacks that I couldn’t control. I had symptoms such as; racing heartbeat, feeling out of my body, trembling, sweating, nausea, vertigo, and many more. This would last from 15 minutes to a few hours until I started deep breathing and then I would wait for the next one, constantly in a state of worry. So yeah, if I could have just flipped the off switch, that would have been great!
I’ve been coping with an anxiety disorder for 12 years and have experienced very low anxiety for years at a time. Here are 10 powerful ways to reduce your anxiety.
- Deep breathing. In through your nose as long and as deep as you can, out through your mouth emptying your lungs and your mind. Many people struggling with anxiety do not breathe correctly, resulting in lightheadedness and can lead to a panic attack. Deep breathing can release tension, slow heartbeat, and bring a feeling of relaxation over your body and mind.
- Exercise. I used to be afraid of working out, it would increase my heart rate (obviously) which I felt I already had enough of. I was wrong and exercising regularly can help reduce stress, help you sleep better at night, and is important for physical health. Doing quick workouts every day and slowly increasing the amount and time, I found most effective. I like dancing a lot, doing that for 5 minutes before a quick workout helps to get me in the zone and makes me feel happier in general.
- Yoga. I put yoga separately from exercise only because it is more a lifestyle and spiritual practice than a vigorous workout. There are many types of yoga and I personally enjoy hatha, vinyasa, and kundalini yoga classes. More of a slow flow these types focus on breathing correctly while holding poses for long periods of time. Like I mentioned above learning to breathe correctly is key for anxiety sufferers.
- Essential Oils. Scents can alter your state of mind in a matter of seconds. Surrounding yourself with comforting scents and anxiety reducing scents is key in stress relief. I light candles in my bedroom, wear essential oil as perfume, and do deep breathing with my new oil diffuser (it’s so awesome!). I recommend everyone own a diffuser and purchase your favorite essential oils, it’s a cool experience. Scents that work for me are; chamomile and vanilla, sweet orange, and bergamot.
- Do some research. If you’re wondering why you feel uneasy in certain situations, all the time, or for no particular reason at all researching can really help. You may see how many people in the world struggle with the same symptoms you have, realize you are holding on to something from your past, or are too worried about the future. Don’t go all crazy on Web MD and freak out, but do learn about the symptoms you are having.
- Journal. If there is one major symptom of anxiety I would say everyone has, it’s racing thoughts. Thoughts of fear, uncomfortable situations, and the future are just a few I experience all the time. Writing these thoughts down and realizing how irrational and ridiculous they are helps me a lot. It also helps when you just don’t feel like talking to anyone about it!
- Talk to someone. Open up to someone who cares about you whether this be a therapist, family member, or a significant other. Sometimes just getting your frustrations and worry out into actual words is a relief. It’s been a long time since I have opened up about my anxieties and fear-based thoughts to anyone. The last time I recall doing so, I sobbed and got angry about struggling with anxiety, but I felt much better afterwards.
- Stay away from stressful environments. I fully believe that stressful and negative environments relate to anxiety and elevate feelings of anxiety. This can be anywhere from a negative working environment to an uncomfortable home life. I know sometimes you can’t change these things right away, but if it is affecting your ability to be happy or you dread going there you should set a goal to change it. Change can be super scary but once you find the courage to positively change your circumstances, the outcome can be pretty sweet.
- The sun will come out tomorrow. Just like Annie said, it’s only a day away. If your day is that terrible and your anxiety is driving you nuts, pray for a better day tomorrow. Thanks Annie!
- Practice self-care every day. Try lighting candles and having a meditation/prayer hour. Being the girly girl that I am, I love long and hot baths with Lush Cosmetics Bath Bombs or a few drops of my favorite essential oils with flower petals. Treat yourself like a Goddess or a King and you will start to feel like one. For the men out there; Epsom salt baths work wonders on your muscles and relax your body with soothing, but manly, scents. Whatever it is that makes you relaxed and happy, do it.
There are so many coping tools I use to lower my anxiety levels and I could go on and on explaining my daily search for peace. These are some things that help me and are most important to me in reducing my anxiety. What are some of your own ways for reducing anxiety?