Through my experience with an anxiety disorder, I have been able to distinguish what helps and how you can help yourself. I have always had Generalised Anxiety Disorder but was only diagnosed in my early twenties. Since then I have been back and forth to doctors, been on meds and attended plenty of therapy sessions. If you would like to know more information about my story then head over to here. So, whether you have Anxiety or would just like to learn ways of dealing with your stress better, keep reading.
This self-help guide is only my personal experience so what helps me, may not help you, however, a lot of the elements are pretty straightforward and it has been proven through research that a lot of these assist in a healthy mind and body.
First and foremost, one of the most beneficial things you can do when you feel yourself getting worked up overly stressed and in everyday life. Make sure you’re breathing properly. This may sound ridiculous but calming techniques such as meditation and deep breathing have been proven to reduce general stress levels and anxiety.
If you’re like me and meditation isn’t your thing, practice your breathing, regularly. Excuse yourself if you need to and do some breathing. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold it for 3 seconds and then breathe out for another 5 seconds. It often helps to count your breaths as this focuses your mind and distracts your attention away from whatever is on your mind.
You would be surprised how difficult this can be, especially in the midst of a panic attack, but, practice makes perfect. Do it a couple of sessions every day until you feel more comfortable.
Be more aware
By having a diagnosis it allowed me to start paying more attention to my body and mind. All the little signs and symptoms that I missed before. Things like my breathing not being stead, yawning a lot, headaches and acne. These are all symptoms personal to me that represent when my anxiety is getting too rough. Over the years I have learnt, the first obvious sign is the yawning for me, I yawn a lot and feel out of breath and sigh when my stress levels are reaching high levels. When I hit this point I work on techniques such as the breathing which allow me to calm myself down and stop things in their tracks.
This also helps to encourage you to eat better which in turn will also benefit your mentality and overall health. If you eat crap, you feel crap. You will start learning more about yourself and realising what things work for you, what doesn’t and most importantly your triggers, signs and symptoms.
So, if you notice anything out of the ordinary, analyse it. If you have started losing your hair more than normal or you’ve started getting more spots than usual. Ask yourself why that may be. Has your diet changed? Are you drinking enough water? Or, is there something on your mind? Once you know what’s wrong you can figure out how to make it better. Therapy is good for this.
Taking a pill on bad days
Sometimes you will have bad days where no matter what you do, nothing seems to help. Now, I don’t think anyone should be on pills if they can avoid it, however, for some people pills will make a huge difference between having an OK day or a terrible day. The pills I take only last 6 hours in the system and one of these tiny magical wonders is enough to stop me hitting rock bottom on the difficult days.
So, if you struggle a lot like I did and the positive mindset isn’t a foolproof method, as it shouldn’t be, then pop to your doctor (NEVER SELF PRESCRIBE) and ask for a pill for such occasions because it’s OK to have that pill as a safety net.
Now, we all know the benefits of a healthy diet, it goes without saying. Personally, I’m Vegan and believe it’s the healthiest you can be alongside regular exercise. At the minute, I track my calories, walk 30 minutes to an hour a day, do 10,000 steps a day and eat plenty of healthy filling foods.
I don’t know about you, but I find that when I eat bad foods it makes me feel like crap, it drains my energy, messes up my skin and hair and overall makes my anxiety levels more of a prominent struggle. Don’t get me wrong, you still have to treat yourself. I regularly eat chocolate and I have one bad meal a week where I just eat what I want (within reason). The point of the matter is to have everything in moderation which is where calorie tracking is good. It’s not for everyone but it allows me to eat what I want (within reason).
For more advice on healthy eating, specifically with a Vegan diet. There is Dr Gregors website and daily dozen app. Also, Emma Laird and Naturally Stefanie on YouTube are wonderfully motivating and offer lots of healthy meal ideas.
For something a little sweeter, head to Chocolate Covered Katie for wonderful desserts and healthy snacks.
Another very important part of healthy eating is drinking plenty of water. At least two litres a day minimum I would say to function at your best. If you’re dehydrated you will never work at your full capability and your mood will be more tetchy which in turns makes anxiety more difficult to deal with.
Catch your zzz’s
Another thing that goes without saying but we’re going to talk about the importance of. Getting plenty of sleep. 6-8 hours is the minimum recommended but in my personal experience, you need to aim for 8 as a minimum. Anything less and your skin feels looser, your pores feel weaker and your mind feels duller.
Anxiety can often be triggered when you’ve not had enough sleep. If I’ve had 6 hours of sleep I will sometimes wake up on the verge of an anxiety attack and have to reach for the pills. However, if I have 8 hours or more then I wake up feeling refreshed, happy and best of all, ready for the day ahead.
Plenty of sleep allows you to get plenty of done and have a more productive day which in turn reflects n your mood and general wellbeing, keeping anxiety at bay in the process.
So, start going to bed earlier and get into a better bedtime routine. Avoid technology and pick up that book.
If you haven’t read my post about Positivity – The root of your tree, then I advise you start there. Positivity is the root of everything. It gets’ you places, puts you in a good mood, puts other people in a good mood and allows you to deal with difficult or sad situations in a healthier way.
Start by setting yourself positive goals. Whether it’s 10,000 steps a day, eating more fruit, drinking more water or sleeping more hours. However, the trick to putting a positive spin on things is to think positive. Don’t tell yourself you need to do this or that as that it’s just more burden for the mind to handle. Instead, tell yourself you want to do this or that. If you think negative it will only encourage your anxiety and affect your opinion of yourself. I want to do 10,000 steps today as it will make me feel good. I want to do this housework as it will make my mood better. Always turn your words positive, avoid the negative words and most of all, surround yourself with positive people. If someone makes you unhappy, don’t give them your time because you’re worth so much more than you give yourself credit for.
Relaxation fits in perfectly with deep breathing and getting plenty of sleep. Go easy on yourself, allow yourself time every day to relax and just embrace yourself. Accept your weaknesses and admire your strengths. You’re the only you and you’re perfect and unique.
This I have found has become a big deal for me lately. My anxiety has always been worse at night time when there are no distractions so I’ve been trying to get myself into a better routine. This means going to bed around 9 and reading for 30 mins to an hour before going to sleep at ten to get up about half six/seven. It can be a nuisance as you sometimes feel like your not tired or your cutting your day short. But, I’ve re-found my love for reading which is important to me as a writer and published Author.
So, don’t be so mean to yourself. Enjoy your own company and give yourself plenty of breaks, even if it’s just a nice bath or a quiet walk. It’s important to have you time.
Go outside every day
What is one of the best ways you can separate yourself from your stress and anxiety and relax in the process, going outside every day. Whether it’s standing in your garden for 20 minutes or walking around the neighbourhood for an hour. Going outside is so relaxing. Getting fresh air, just feeling that breeze across your face can allow you to sink your feet back into reality and focus on how beautiful the world can be.
Don’t get me wrong, this can be a little difficult, especially at the beginning if you suffer from an anxiety disorder, so, do it with company if you need to, personally, when my husband gets in from work, we head straight out for a 30 minutes to an hour walk every evening without fail. It’s never anywhere exciting, usually just around our neighbourhood but it allows us to chat about our day, vent about our problems and most of all relax.
Plus, if you end up spending time walking outside it’s also one of the best exercises you can do on a daily basis which brings us to the next point.
We hear it all the time in the media, from professionals and avid athletes, exercise is so good for you! We all know it but for a lot of us, that doesn’t make it any easier to invest time and effort in. But, it really helps with anxiety. It encourages positive, healthy habits and makes you feel good. And, had huge long-term benefits relevant to health and lifestyle. So, get those trainers on and do some exercise, or, get that Yoga Mat out that’s been sitting in the corner of your bedroom.
Personally, I’ve always been terrible with exercise. I don’t get that trill from it that most do, so I did something about it, since the beginning of the year, I’ve had a Fitbit which has really helped me make sure I do 10,000 steps a day and 30 mins of activity every single day. I’m now doing 30 minutes to an hour of walking every day. That alongside tracking calories has allowed me to lose 7 pounds in just a month so it does work, you have to find something you love and don’t overthink or force it. Think positive.
The right vitamins
All of the above factors in dealing with anxiety are less beneficial unless you’re taking the right vitamins. Whether this is eating the right foods or taking the right vitamins by tablet form. Your body is like a machine and in order to work at it’s best capabilities, it has to be oiled with what it needs. This is where vitamins come in. In order to deal with your anxiety better you need to approach the manner in the best way possible.
Below is a list of the vitamins I take on a daily basis. I take all of them every morning with water and I take the Ashwagandha a second time in the evening. I have no idea if these pills class or ruin the effects by taking them together so please if you have experience with this then do let me know. For now though they really seem to help me out on a daily basis and provide me with what my body and mind need.
- General Vegan Multivitamin – to give my body the minimum it needs
- Vitamin D – because we live in the UK and its winter. The sunshine isn’t out enough for Vitamin D in the UK.
- Folic acid and Primrose Oil – For my hormone levels, (Yes, Folic Acid isn’t just for pregnant women). I have a slight imbalance which can make my anxiety a lot worse, since taking these hormones my periods have been a lot quicker and lighter and less of a monthly stress and my mood swings are a lot less catastrophic.
- Maca root x2 – This gives me extra energy throughout the day, it also helps to balance my hormones and generally improves my overall mood throughout the day.
- Ashwagandha – This vitamin is a natural relief for stress. It’s great for anxiety and depression sufferers. It helps promote stress resistance, calm the mind, and supports relaxation, vitality, and overall well-being – the one I take also has some magnesium in it which has also been proven to help with anxiety and make you feel calmer.
It may seem like a long lost but this is what works for me and each has it’s own purpose and compliments another.
If you read this list and consider a lot of them obvious, then ask yourself why you aren’t doing them. What is holding your back? Don’t start tomorrow or next week. Start today. Work on your issues. Make yourself a better version of yourself. Kick your anxiety in the butt and teach it whose boss.
Do you agree with these Anxiety tips and advice? Is there anything you have found works best for you? Let me know below. Or, if you would just like a chat about any issues raised, contact me here.