Are you living with anxiety? This is amazing guest post was written by Tami Walker, founder of thesinspirationlady.com for you!
Everyone feels anxiety from time to time, and some anxiety is a natural feeling. But when you’re constantly struggling with it, for no reason sometimes, that’s when it becomes a mental illness. Then, you have to start looking for ways to make living with anxiety a bit easier.
People suffering from anxiety disorders struggle with it in different ways. Everyone has unique experiences and different ways that they react to it.
Some people don’t have to deal with their symptoms all the time, and some people can’t get a break from them. Some people have social anxiety and they feel anxious about meeting new people, making small talk, or being in large crowds. Some people have specific phobias, such as a fear of dirt, a fear of dogs, or a fear of driving. Some people have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and they can feel anxious all of the time for no specific reason. Some people have panic disorder and experience panic attacks unexpectedly.
Anxiety disorders aren’t always completely curable, but there are definitely ways that we can manage our anxiety on a daily basis and make living with anxiety a little bit easier.
20 Helpful Tips for Living With Anxiety
1. Learn as much as you can about your condition.
While I feel like dwelling too much on your condition can be counterintuitive, I also believe that it’s important to educate yourself. The more you know about your illness, the better you’ll be able to manage it. As you learn more about it, you’ll learn to spot the symptoms and you’ll learn what you need to do for your specific symptoms. It will make it much easier for you to recover.
2. Have a support system in place.
Anxiety definitely comes with its ups and downs, and it’s important to have support during the downs. Having just one person who you can lean on during the hard times can make those times so much more bearable. This person (or people) should be understanding of your anxiety, able to listen, give you feedback on your problems, and be patient with you. If you don’t have family members or friends who you trust with your anxiety troubles, that’s okay. Your support system could also come in the form of a mental health professional, a doctor, clergy, or anyone else better suited for the task.
3. Make sure something physical isn’t causing or worsening your symptoms.
There is so much research being done to show just how many physical conditions could lead to mental health conditions, like depression and anxiety. Vitamin deficiencies, hormonal imbalances, thyroid problems, and GI conditions are just a few of the physical problems that are being shown to cause (or worsen) anxiety. So, if you want to be on the safe side, ask your doctor to run tests to see if there’s something physical causing or worsening your anxiety. Treating the physical condition can really help to alleviate or maybe even eliminate your mental health symptoms. That will make living with anxiety much easier!
4. Remind yourself that anxiety can’t harm you.
One of the most challenging things about dealing and living with anxiety is realizing that nothing is seriously wrong with you. Sometimes when we’re having a panic attack, we can become convinced that something is wrong with us physically. And sometimes when we’re in the throes of anxiety, we can convince ourselves that we’re going “crazy” or losing our minds. So, it’s important to remember that it’s just the anxiety talking and it can’t harm us. It’s not a fun condition to deal with, but it’s a common condition and it doesn’t mean that something bigger is wrong with us.
5. Have a crisis plan in place.
You might be feeling okay now but unfortunately, you can reach rock bottom much quicker than you think. Rock bottom is much easier to handle when you have a crisis plan in place. Because when you’re at your lowest, your thinking is distorted and it’s not as easy to think of what you need to pick yourself back up. When you’re in this place, it’s helpful to have a crisis plan so you can reach out to people to help you and keep you safe. You can find outlines for these online or you can ask a mental health professional to help you create one.
6. Always take good care of your body.
Research has been showing that how we treat our bodies plays a much bigger role in our mental health than we ever knew. Exercise is one of the single most helpful things for our mental health. We’re told it all the time, but it really is so important to get enough exercise! It’s also important to pay attention to what we’re putting into our bodies. Healthy fats, vitamin D, protein, and probiotics are all essential when it comes to our brains. It’s also important to avoid processed foods and high fructose corn syrup. Here are some foods that may help you while living with anxiety:
- Meat & seafood
- Dairy products
- Citrus fruits
7. Don’t (always) avoid what you’re scared of.
This doesn’t work if you’re scared of something dangerous such as tornadoes or lions or something. But if you’re scared of talking to people, don’t avoid it. If you’re scared of an everyday thing that most people think is safe, face the fear. Avoiding something just gives that thing more power over you. Facing your fears gives you the power back. Sometimes you need to face your fear many times before it stops scaring you, but it will help you feel so much better and it’ll be worth it.
8. Try aromatherapy.
Essential oils have been around for centuries, dating back to Biblical times. Essential oils are helpful for many different things, but my favorite way to use them is for aromatherapy. Research has proven again and again that aromatherapy can help with mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Many different scents can help calm us, energize us, clear our minds, and rejuvenate us. You can use essential oil candles, rollers, lotions, soaps, jewelry, and more. Here are some of the best essential oils for anxiety:
- Ylang ylang
9. Express yourself in some way.
When you’re dealing with negative thought patterns or you’re spiraling, it’s never good to suppress it or keep it bottled up. You need to find a way to let the negativity out and clear your mind a little bit. This can look different for everyone. Maybe you need to keep a journal, maybe you need to talk to someone you trust, or maybe you need to spend time doing something creative to express yourself. Singing, painting, or writing are great ways to let it out. Bottom line: expressing yourself makes living with your anxiety more bearable.
10. Focus on your faith.
Believing in something bigger than yourself is something that can be a saving grace when it comes to mental illness. As a Christian, prayer is the first thing that I turn to when my anxiety or depression is really bad. Relying on your faith can really help you get through the bad times and remain hopeful.
11. Spend time in nature.
There are so many reasons that spending time in nature is good for us. First of all, our bodies are hardwired to sync with the laws of nature, not the laws of the constantly on-the-go society that we live in. Sometimes we need to just take a break and spend time outside. The fresh air, the sunlight, the vitamin D, the beauty – all of it benefits our mind and body in different ways. In fact, people living in cities are more likely to suffer from mood disorders and schizophrenia than people living in more rural environments. People living near nature even have longer lifespans. So make sure that you slow down and get outside every once in a while and I bet it will help you manage your anxiety better.
12. Do something to distract your mind.
Healthy distraction is a very helpful thing when it comes to anxiety. Sometimes when we sit with our thoughts for too long, it can create more anxiety and cause a negative spiral. Distraction can help us to get a break from our negative thoughts and even allow us to think more positively. So find a hobby or a few that help you get your mind off of your anxiety. Read a book, play a game, spend time with a loved one, work on your goals. You should actually try to plan your entire day around healthy distractions as much as you can. This can actually help you to re-train your brain away from anxious thinking.
13. Learn some good grounding exercises.
When I talked to my doctor about living with my anxiety, the first thing she told me was to try out the “5-4-3-2-1” grounding exercise. To do this exercise, you just acknowledge 5 things that you can see around you, 4 things that you can touch around you, 3 things that you can hear, 2 things that you can smell, and 1 thing that you can taste. Grounding exercises like this can help you to take your mind off of your anxiety and bring yourself back to the present by thinking about your surroundings. It’s really helpful for moments of high anxiety or panic. There are many other grounding exercises that you can try out too!
14. Take things one step at a time.
As with any other life struggles, anxiety has its ups and downs. Sometimes you have good days and sometimes it’s hard to even get out of bed. It’s important to take things one step at a time. Don’t fight how you’re feeling, just take things as they come. It’s just part of living with anxiety. Focus on the moment right in front of you. Do one thing at a time. Focus on the present moment and don’t worry about what might happen. Keep reminding yourself that worrying about the future will do nothing to change it anyway.
15. Make time to relax and unwind.
Everyone needs to take a break now and then, and it’s even more crucial for people with anxiety. You might not know this, but anxiety can take a serious toll on our bodies. It takes a lot of energy to get through just one day when you’re on constant alert, dealing with panic attacks, and feeling on edge. It can exhaust us, leave us feeling sore, and it can actually put a strain on our muscles. So make sure that you take time to unwind; take a bath, take a nap, get a massage, or do something else to help you relax.
16. Exercise your brain daily.
Exercising your brain can help stimulate it and make it stronger. It can also help to clear your brain and improve your memory. So make sure that you’re challenging your brain daily! There are different ways that you can do this, you just have to find something that you enjoy. You can read articles or books, learn something new like a language or instrument, do jigsaw puzzles, or play Sudoku. Anything that makes you concentrate and think.
17. Try common coping activities.
There are many different hobbies and activities that help people manage their anxiety. What works for one person doesn’t always work for the next, so don’t get discouraged if something doesn’t work for you. It’s important to try many different things until you find one, or a combination, that helps. Here are some of the common hobbies that help when living with anxiety:
- Gratitude lists
- Creative outlets
- Getting a pet
- Video games
18. Stop Googling all of your symptoms.
This is something that I still struggle with all of the time, personally. When you live with anxiety, it’s so easy to convince yourself that all sorts of things are wrong with you. Suddenly heart palpitations mean that something is wrong with your heart or a headache means that something is wrong with your brain. Googling your symptoms does absolutely nothing to help you. All it does is double the amount of anxiety that you’re feeling. If you seriously think that you might have a medical condition, move on to tip number 19…
19. Seek professional help whenever you need it.
There’s still a bit of a stigma surrounding mental illness, but don’t let that stop you from doing what’s best for you. If you feel that you need help from a professional, seek out a therapist, a psychiatrist, a counselor, or go to your GP. There’s nothing wrong with asking for help from an experienced person who’s willing and ready to help you. They can offer you expert advice, therapy, medication, peace of mind, and support that you can’t find anywhere else.
20. The Last Tip You Need to Know for Living With Anxiety: Remember That it Gets Better.
When I was at my lowest and people told me that it would get better, it honestly upset me. I would wonder how they could possibly know that, especially when they didn’t understand how I felt. I didn’t believe them, and it made everything so much more unbearable. But it CAN get better. Sometimes getting better means that you need to change though. Maybe you need to fully commit to the recovery process, maybe you need to stop trying to control your situation, maybe you need to reach out for help from someone, and maybe you just need to give yourself more time. But the mind is a powerful thing and it can recover from more than you can imagine. So, just keep fighting!
Want More Tips? 15 Ways to Calm and Anxious Mind + Reduce Anxiety
Tami is a personal development and inspirational blogger at The Inspiration Lady She blogs about self-improvement, wellness, (including her struggles with depression and anxiety) lifestyle, and blogging. She and I also host a community on Facebook known as The Inspiration Ladies.