Anxiety. Just thinking about it makes my palms sweaty.
I never really understood what it meant to have anxiety. I mean as a kid I was always a "worry wart," wondering when my mom was going to come pick me up, scared my illnesses were something much more dire... I even stopped eating carrots and spaghetti for a period of time because I was afraid of choking (don't worry, I've since gotten over this fear and firmly believe I'm developing x-ray vision with the amount of carrots I eat nowadays.)
But then I graduated from college and I started having panic attacks and just generally would feel off for days, even weeks at a time. I didn't necessarily feel stressed or acutely worried about anything in particular, yet here I was feeling like I was going crazy. I felt like no one else understood what I was going through and I didn't know what was wrong with me.
Turns out, it was anxiety. Nothing was necessarily wrong with me and I wasn't going crazy, but I did need to get it under control. It was affecting my daily tasks, my relationships, and my overall health. But if you've ever had an anxiety attack or prolonged symptoms, then you know how hard that can be.
So I want to share some healthy ways I have gotten my anxiety under control. When I start feeling the unnecessary adrenaline rush, the racing obsessive thoughts, etc, these few tips help me stay grounded without needing medication to help me get through those anxious feelings (oh, and a call over to mom always helps too!)
Exercise. It's not only good for your physical health, but also for your mental health. I don't exercise nearly enough and I'm embarrassed to say I barely get 5,000 steps in a day, but working up a sweat can drastically help improve anxiety. Not only does it help chemically release those good endorphins to improve your mood but it also supports your memory and helps you sleep better. All important to helping your body regulate it's chemical balance so that you're more relaxed and less likely to trigger an adrenaline spike.
Did you know Mint Tea is a way to relieve stress? When I'm at work and I need to chill out and calm down, I'll frequently grab a cup of peppermint tea and find a quiet spot to get my thoughts together. The menthol in the herbal drink is a muscle relaxant that helps quiet you physically so you can have have a calm sound mind.
Not everyone experiences anxiety the same way, but for some it can be all "doom and gloom." Whenever I accidentally let these negative thoughts in, I write down in a notebook all the things I'm thankful for. Just by writing down all the good in my life and seeing it on paper can help remind me that "this too shall pass." A mantra that my mom taught me to say when I started to freak out. Some how remembering that nothing is really permanent or if it is, you have the power to change your perspective, can pull you out of those dark places quickly.
While I like to think I have have a (web)MD, I can't diagnose myself - nor should I! But I can't help looking up things when I'm not feeling well or I notice something off. That's not healthy. It can spin out of control quickly when you read those awful words on webMD *has stomach ache, you have cancer* woof. Instead, write down your symptoms in a journal and track your progress. If you have prolonged headaches, nausea or other symptoms that are associated with your anxiety, rather than try and figure out what illness you might have, try to track down what might be causing those feelings. You may find there is a pattern and you can avoid specific triggers. (Of course if you are really feeling sick and you believe you should go to the doctor - definitely do so. The journal might even help them too!)
Taking care of your mind is important. Mindfulness is a way to give yourself a mental break so anxious thoughts don't creep in when your guard is down. If you're into syncing your mind and body, try yoga (great for your posture and breathing too!) or if that's not your thing there are a few good apps you can download. Headspace is the one I've tried and would recommend. 10 minute guided meditations that give your brain a vacation for the day - and if you're feeling like you need some more away time, consider booking a meditation retreat!
For as many things you can do to naturally help reduce your anxiety, there are probably just as many that do the opposite, for example reducing alcohol consumption is a big one I've found helps. Caffeine and sugar are also triggers and while the first is easy for me to avoid because I don't drink coffee, sugar is a horrible bad habit I just can't seem to kick yet. I read that gluten and dairy can also feed anxiety, but I have yet to test this theory... that would basically cut out 75% of my diet, so I'm not ready to go that hard core yet.
The last way to beat anxiety in a natural way is probably a no brainer, avoid negativity. Misery loves company and so does anxiety, so if you're finding you're hanging out with friends that constantly gripe about life or coworkers can't seem to let things go, remove yourself from those conversations. You'll find if you surround yourself with happy, positive people that you'll spend less time dwelling on your own negative thoughts and more time learning to focus on the here and now.