In this week’s post, I am changing directions a little. As someone who has suffered with intense anxiety throughout most of my life, I decided to share how I have learned to deal with it. Anxiety to some degree is entirely normal. Most of us feel anxiety before tests, certain events, or during major life changes. These tips that I am sharing will certainly help during those times. However, I am sharing these tips for those of us who feel anxiety even over the everyday routines of life.
If you find your anxiety interfering with your ability to function please make an appointment to see your doctor. I also encourage you to find a qualified counsellor/therapist who can provide a listening ear as well as generate a specific plan of action for you. I have found both of these disciplines to be extremely helpful in this area of my life.
I also have developed some of my own coping mechanisms, and I felt like maybe these would be helpful to someone else. So here are my tips:
1. Take 5. If you are feeling overwhelmed in your present environment, leave the room and take a few minutes. At work or in social settings, I have at times excused myself to the bathroom where I decompress and take deep breaths. You’ll be amazed at how well this actually works!
2. Get the right amount of sleep. This can be difficult for people who tend to have insomnia during times of high anxiety. It can be tough to shut your mind down long enough to sleep. I occasionally struggle with this. One way I deal with that is to reflect on the things that make me happy. Of course, my thoughts will stray, but I usually can bring myself back to focus. If it takes a long time for me to go to sleep or I wake up in the night and am unable to go back to sleep, I find changing environments helpful. That means moving to the couch or a spare bed. What I most often struggle with, however, is sleeping too much when I am feeling anxious. While it is helpful to get rest, sleeping too much can actually lead from anxiety into depression. In order to combat this, I try to make a plan for each day of things I want to accomplish. That way when I get up in the morning, instead of going back to bed, I focus on my goals. I will sometimes take naps in the afternoon, but I will set my alarm for 30 minutes in order to not take too long of a nap. When the alarm goes off, I get up and have something to eat. This helps give me energy and return to working on my to-do list. I will admit that I still don’t have this process down pat, but I am continuing to work on it!
3. Get outside. Fresh air and exercise are both great medicines in dealing with anxiety even if it is just a short walk. I also find that sitting outside while reading or journaling effective. Even more so, working in the dirt is especially beneficial. Studies have proven that a bacterium called Mycobacterium vaccae in soil increases the brain chemical of serotonin and acts like an antidepressant. (https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/66840.php)
4. Have a down time. In our fast-paced society, having a time to relax and do something enjoyable is essential. Finding this time can be difficult for some people especially those with kids, but it needs to be a priority since it is needed to lower stress and thus lower your stress hormone – cortisol. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress/art-20046037 Setting aside time each day to read, journal, craft, cook, or do what is enjoyable to you helps keep your anxiety intact and your cortisol balanced. Sit down right now and make a plan of how you will accomplish this.
5. Recite Scripture. I have found my relationship with God most helpful in dealing with my anxiety. There is a lot of great promises and encouraging scriptures found in God’s Word. If you memorize a few of these, they will come back to your memory just when you need them. One of my favourite verses is “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear (reverence) him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7
I hope this tips have been helpful to you. Be sure to sure your tips in the comments below.