I remember the first time I experienced what I would call “real anxiety.” Thankfully, I am very lucky; Really, I don’t mind talking in front of large groups of people. I am not really shy. So, when I was paralyzed by the fear and worry of my children (at that time only 2 of the 4 were with me) and I falling off the ferry and drowning I was completely caught off guard. I had never felt anxious before – and I am positive I never wanted to feel it again.
While my incidents of anxiety are few and far between, that isn’t the case for others. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, over 18% of the American population struggles with some form of anxiety at any given time. Coping with anxiety can be complicated, especially since there’s no single treatment that works for everyone.
While I was super fortunate to not have to deal too often with anxiety, my oldest daughter was not nearly as fortunate as I am. Over the years, she and I have found a few things that work for her and/or me. Since we know how debilitating it can be, we wanted to offer a few rays of hope to those of you that may or may not have tried these techniques before.
1. Meditation & Deep Breathing for Anxiety
Anxiety attacks and persistent anxiety typically come with the same few symptoms. You may notice that your heart rate is twice as fast as normal, that your blood pressure has skyrocketed, and that thoughts are racing through your mind at lightning speed. I am positive all of these were happening to me on the ferry that day. LONGEST … RIDE … EVER.
Meditation and deep breathing techniques can help you to relieve both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. Concentrating on your breathing will bring you back to the present moment and slow your thoughts. And, according to Harvard Health, meditation can also reduce your blood pressure, lower your heart rate, and improve your heart health.
So, start off with a brief 2-minute deep breathing meditation session and begin lengthening your sessions as you become accustomed to meditation.
If you have already tried a few types of meditation, you might find my Press Pause – Develop Your Personal Stress Reduction Strategy in Less than 10 Minutes a Day course supportive too: https://jackieschwabe.mykajabi.com/offers/6VrSx2os
2. Aromatherapy for Anxiety
The essential oils industry in America is booming these days, but these oils might be able to do a little more than make your home smell pleasant. Simply smelling these essential oils through aromatherapy can potentially reduce your symptoms of stress and anxiety.
And, research has revealed that essential oils like lemon, lavender, and rose are most effective for anxious people. All you have to do is squeeze a few drops of your favorite into an essential oil diffuser or in the bathtub and give yourself some time to relax and enjoy the scents!
Note: Some essential oils must be mixed with carrier oils if you’re planning to use them on your skin. Be sure to read the label before using your essential oil.
Both my daughter and I love essential oils. We like Lavender the most for just chilling out when things are really crazy. However, here is a great aromatherapy kit for quite a few oils that really help: https://doterra.me/lahm3QAl
3. Intense Exercise
The last thing you want to do when you’re anxious is strap on your running shoes and go for a run, but it might just be the best thing for relieving your anxiety during the moment. That’s because exercise can help you to naturally improve your mood, get rid of pent-up energy, and help you to sleep much better at night (great if you have insomnia).
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that just about any style of exercise can be successful when it comes to calming anxiety. So, go for a long walk along the canal, lift weights in your living room, follow along with a yoga video, or even play fetch with your dog.
Exercise is great for treating and preventing anxiety, so do your best to get at least 150 minutes of exercise each week. While all of that is true, I have to admit I am more of a long walk at a slow pace kinda gal. However, exercise can help improve your mood, so why not?
4. Laugh & Smile for Calming Anxiety
When your mind is racing and negative thoughts have taken over, it’s hard to stay positive and express emotions like happiness or joy. But according to the Mayo Clinic, laughter has the ability to improve your mood and relieve the physical tension in your body as well.
So, when you’re feeling anxious, do something that makes you smile. That can be anything from watching your favorite TV show clip on YouTube to spending time playing with your young nieces and nephews in the yard.
My kids and I make ‘fart sounds’ with our mouths. It cracks all of us up, even if it isn’t the most appropriate thing in the world.
5. Limit Caffeine Intake to Reduce Anxiety
Have you ever had a few too many cups of coffee (or energy drinks) and gotten the jitters? Maybe it felt like your heart was pounding in your chest and like your mind wouldn’t slow down. That’s because high levels of caffeine can mimic the effects of anxiety. That means caffeine and anxiety is a terrible combination for your mental state.
If you’re predisposed to high levels of anxiety, it’s best to avoid caffeine altogether. However, caffeine may be okay in moderation, such as a few cups of coffee in the morning each day. Just be sure you’re not drinking it too close to bedtime to avoid sleep difficulties.
This literally happened to my client this last week. He thought he was drinking decaffeinated coffee so he decided it would be fine to have a few extra cups. He was wondering why his anxiety was super high. Turns out, he doubled down on his caffeine intake. Ouch!
Since there’s no “one size fits all” for helping anxiety, you may have to experiment with different strategies. Make sure that the ways you try to calm your anxiety are healthy and don’t involve drugs and alcohol. Understand that anxiety is complex, and it could take weeks or months to see significant results.
And of course, if these natural supports don’t work for you, see appropriate medical attention. There is no shame in seeking support.
Until next time.
Coach Jackie Out!
P.S. If you want to chat about possible ways to cope with your anxious thoughts, book a complimentary coaching session with me at https://calendly.com/jackieschwabe/coachsession
P.P.S. If you still need more support in processing your emotions, I put together a Process Your Emotions workbook. It helps you journal your way of processing your emotions. It’s FREE, get your copy here https://jackieschwabe.com/product/process-your-emotions/