8 ways to ways to manage anxiety

Millions of people suffer from anxiety and not nearly enough people get the help they need.

I know.
I was one of them.

I can remember my first experience – ten years old, walking down a road, the world started to spin, and my heart jumped around in my chest. I thought it was normal {even though it was terrifying} so I didn’t tell anyone about it.

As I grew up, panic attacks turned into generalized anxiety. Driving around feeling discombobulated, I knew I should go somewhere or do something to get help but I didn’t know where to go or what to do.

Walking through life with butterflies in my stomach, a fog in my mind and toes always on the edge, I learned to numb out the ever-present anxiety with distractions and addictions.

When workaholism, wine, and ice cream didn’t do the trick, I turned to little white pills.

They helped, but the side effects outweighed the benefits and I decided to wean off the meds and find another way.

I learned that a certain amount of stress is normal, but the level of anxiety I was feeling was not normal. I devoted myself to finding a way to escape the prison of anxiety.

If you are struggling with an anxiety disorder, please make an appointment with your favourite psychologist – these tips are not meant to treat anxiety disorders.

Occasional activation of the anxiety {fight / flight / freeze} response is part of being human; after all, our ancestors needed to be alert to all the dangers when they were living in jungles and caves. But, we’re no longer living with the occasional threat of being chased by a tiger or squeezed by a snake.

Our world is full of chronic stressors that activate the anxiety response – deadlines at work, school shootings on the news, traffic jams, time crunches, a tight economy, outrageous political banter, broken electronics, tragic justice issues, and the constant juggling of too many balls. 

When these danger bulletins flash through our minds we feel stressed, angry, worried, anxious, and afraid.

Our world {and our nervous systems} desperately need us to switch off high alert and find our calm.

Explore these soulful strategies and experiment with what works best for you.

be aware

What does anxiety feel like to you?
What are the sign and symptoms that anxiety has snuck into your world?

When you recognize it, say hello anxiety, I see you there. What do you need?

Tune in, anxiety might have something important to tell you.

be green

People who live in cities are more likely to be haunted by mental illness. If you’re a city dweller, carve out time to bask in the green.

Walk in parks, stare at the trees, get to the mountains, dip your toes in the ocean, float down a river, lay on the grass.

Your brain will reward you with chilled out vibes.

be {anti}social

But, not in the psycho-serial killer kinda way. Instead, take a social media sabbatical.

While social media can be used for the good, it can also causes us to compare, despair, and fear we’re missing out.

By turning off the source you can stop the symptom. 

Be prepared, your social media break may not be easy.  Checking social media gives us a sweet hit of the feel-good neurotransmitter dopamine. It’s a slippery slope into addiction and it may require a lot of courage to connect in real life and disconnect the digital life. 

be discerning

Avoid news channels that sensationalize fearful stories or use emotional exploitation to hook you.

Reading pixels is less traumatic than watching video. Swap visceral videos for trustworthy text.

If you need to, opt-out of news completely for at least one month to help your nervous system reset.

be relaxed

Find your way into the relaxation response by experimenting with what works for you – yoga, knitting, massage, music, writing, laughter, dance, aromatherapy, hot tubs, meditation, reading, breath work, painting – and do it. Everyday.

be active

Move the stress right out of your body. But, make sure to choose movement you love.

Forcing yourself into strenuous exercise you don’t enjoy will stress you out more.

be nourished

What you put into your body affects your mind.

Put good things in your gut – whole food, clean water, leafy greens, prebiotics, green tea, and dark chocolate have been found to help balance the mind.

be conscious

Dive into your psyche and explore the source of your anxiety.

When did anxiety come into your life?
What does anxiety want you to know?
What are you really anxious about?

Anxiety can be sneaky, it may try to distract you, lie to you, hide from you, or try to control you.

Get support if you need it.
Find your way out.
Be free.

resource

I recently had a conversation with Nicole Moorey about how we can connect with ourselves, others, and nature to live our greatest lives.

You can listen in by heading over here. Expect a steady stream of perspectives, philosophies and practices about how to move through fear, wire your mind for love, learn from nature, disconnect from technology, and turn dreams into reality.

sources

Wondering why I say what I say? In my work I blend strategy and soul. Here’s the science to back it up.

A Meta-Analysis on the Anxiety-Reducing Effects of Acute and Chronic Exercise
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Nutritional medicine as mainstream in psychiatry
Psychological and immunological correlates of acute overtraining.
Prebiotic intake reduces the waking cortisol response and alters emotional bias in healthy volunteers
Learning to relax: Evaluating four brief interventions for overcoming the negative emotions accompanying math anxiety
Effects of chocolate intake on Perceived Stress; a Controlled Clinical Study
Effects of Exercise and Physical Activity on Anxiety
The psychological impact of negative TV news bulletins: The catastrophizing of personal worries
Negative psychological effects of watching the news in the television: relaxation or another intervention may be needed to buffer them!
Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation
The benefits of nature experience: Improved affect and cognition
The Human Relation With Nature and Technological Nature
Carpe diem instead of losing your social mind: Beyond digital addiction and why we all suffer from digital overuse
Yoga for anxiety and depression
Clown Doctors as a Treatment for Preoperative Anxiety in Children: A Randomized, Prospective Study
Use of aromatherapy with hospice patients to decrease pain, anxiety, and depression and to promote an increased sense of well-being
A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Meditation for Work Stress, Anxiety and Depressed Mood in Full-Time Workers
Relaxation techniques: Breath control helps quell errant stress response
The therapeutic use of the relaxation response in stress-related diseases.
Nutrition Psychiatry: Your Brain on Food

Posted on Jul 25, 2016 | Posted In: thoughts & musings