In this hectic world that at times can seem to be too much to handle, anxiety is a natural occurrence that affects everyone from time to time.
Whether it is onset during social settings, or occurs over a bad day at work, that familiar gut feeling that travels up into your throat and frolics into your brain can be inevitable.
What's the good news? There are certain things that can give you almost immediate relief in this constant brain-on-body battle. As well as some that you can practice over a period of time that can help with mental stability. Some of these are techniques that I have learned through therapy, studied through holistic research, or even picked up in my daily anxiety-filled schedule.
1. Admit that what you're feeling is anxiety
There is such a growing stigma around mental health in society, so at times, this can be the hardest step of all. Allowing yourself to acknowledge that anxiety is what you are experiencing should always be the first step. Once you tell yourself that it is OK to feel a little off at times, and easing your body and soul of the worry that you will be judged for it, your mind will calm right alongside them.
2. Start keeping a daily journal
Make this apart of your morning or evening routine. Go to TJ Maxx, pick out the best empty notebook you can find, and begin pouring your heart into it! Make it a goal to write down one page a day, or even two on how you felt mentally, events that took place and how they affected you, and how you think you could have made it even better. Try to find similar patterns between the days that you are more or less anxious, and it may give you some insight into your triggers.
3. Change up your diet
Have you ever heard the saying "You are what you eat?" Eating an unbalanced diet full of sugar and processed foods can trigger anxiety. Everything that you consume is full of different nutrients that are vital for the brain to properly function. Simply substituting little things throughout your diet can make a substantial difference in your stress levels and hormones. For instance, instead of eating a bag of chips for a snack, eat a cup of strawberries. Try incorporating more natural, whole foods into your diet like vegetables, fruit, and poultry.
4. Kick out caffeine
Coming from someone who is a Starbucks barista, I understand how much you just wanted to exit this article with the uttering of those words. Caffeine is a natural stimulant that just so happens to agitate your fight or flight mode. Caffeine naturally increases your heart rate, which also releases your stress hormones. Try switching your coffee to decaf, or substituting it for an herbal tea with a low dose of naturally occurring caffeine!
5. Yoga, yoga, and more yoga
When I first began going to therapy, my therapists immediately suggested one of my treatments be yoga. I was very skeptical at first in my mind balancing yoga therapy class, but after about two weeks of practicing, I began noticing changes. If I skipped a few days or a week without mindful breathing techniques, meditation, or different stress-relieving positions, there was a pattern of anxious episodes. There are so many classes in every town that you can attend to learn the basics, or even on YouTube that you can take on in your living room with a friend. All I can ask is to give it a month in the practice to see if there is a difference!
6. See a therapist
There comes a point in everyone's mental health journey when a therapist it the best treatment option, but it isn't always an easy thing to admit. In my case, it was the best form of self-care I have ever given into. Going to a therapist that you are very comfortable with is important, so it isn't a bad idea to search around to find the best fit for you. Therapists play a vital role in teaching you why you are feeling out of sorts and anxious, and can even open up doors from your past that holds the key in making you who you are mentally.
7. Find small techniques for immediate relief
This is a tip that is going to be very personal to the individual. There are tiny things that I pick up on with my personal anxiety disorder that help ease my anxiety. I have a form of anxiety known as DP/DR, which is an anxiety disorder that makes me feel very dissociated from my surroundings, and in a dream-like state. One of the first things that I picked up on is that I always feel better when I am wearing my glasses or contacts because eye strain is one of my triggers. One tip that I learned through therapy about my specific anxiety disorder is that stimulating my five senses will help bring more awareness and calm me down. I do this through listening to calming music, chewing gum, fidgeting with a bracelet, or counting ten things around me in a stressful situation. There are small tactics that you can learn through experiencing anxiety that you can use as a calming tactic.
8. Love yourself through it
The final and most important tip is to simply go easy on yourself, and know that you will get through it. Take time for mental health days where you take a long bath, watch your favorite movie, and take a nap. Life goes so fast at times, it is a wonder that anyone can function normally without taking a day to themselves to unwind. It is also really important to know that just because you have mental health battles that you are any less than whole. Know that frustration is normal, and being angry is allowed. However, once you get through the frustration with your mind, be easy on yourself in knowing that you are making a conscious effort to better yourself, and that is a victory in itself.
I hope that some of these tips find you well, and help with your journey. Never lose that sense of searching for the light in the darkness of the night.
I'll leave you with a quote by Yung Pueblo that truly touched the depths of my being during my darkest moments:
"A real sign of progress us when we no longer punish ourselves for our imperfections."