If you have struggled with an anxiety disorder, you'll know that it really isn't fun. Even worse was having my daughter diagnosed with it too, and realising that she was suffering as much as I was.
But even those without a diagnosed condition, can struggle with feelings of panic and intrusive thoughts from time to time.
These are my favourite suggestions for dealing with anxiety as it arises, without medication. Please hear me, that I'm not suggesting that you stop taking prescribed medicines from your doctor without discussing it with them, but if you aren't on drugs, or if the drugs don't seem to work, you might like to experiment with one or more of these ideas that can be used alone, or alongside your current treatment plan.
Light a candle
And focus on the flickering flame. Slow your breathing and watch it intently.
Diffuse some calming essential oils
I love Lavender, Cedarwood, Peace, Bergamot, Frankincense, Serenity.
At least three times a week, get your heart racing and your body sweating. Exercise release endorphins, but also helps reset what your body considers 'stress'. I have found Brazilian Jiu Jitsu
to be one of the best things I've ever done for managing my day to day anxiety levels.
Get some sleep
Sleep will help your brain to process those unconscious stresses that are making you feel bad. So turn off screens and get an early night.
If intrusive thoughts are preventing you getting to sleep, put on a podcast or audiobook and lie in the dark.
Keep an eye on your triggers
Try keeping a journal to help you understand what events triggered your last anxiety attack. It might be a certain situation, a food or a place. If you know what triggers you, you can try to minimise contact or work through facing what it is that is pushes you into panic mode.
Drink lots of water
Being dehydrated can wreak havoc on your hormones and send your anxiety crazy.
Eat a healthy diet
Blood sugar changes can make you feel stressed and leave you anxious. Make sure you're eating a whole food diet with lots of fibre and quit the processed foods and added sugars that will make you feel bad.
It really does make you burn through those B-vitamins and a B3 deficiency will make anyone feel anxious
Take some B's
Keep a journal
Not just for writing down thoughts and feelings, but have a page of things you're grateful for. Have another page of affirmations to read out when you're feeling bad .Keep a list of things that make you happy.
Listen to your happy playlist
Make a playlist of happy, upbeat music on YouTube or Spotify and put it on when you're feeling bad. Sing along, loud and proud and push those intrusive thoughts out.
Ever practiced mindfulness? Give it a go!
It's honestly well worth seeing if this could help. There's been some amazing research into it recently, so if you aren't sure, try reading up on it until you are convinced
Singing in general is really good for releasing endorphins and increasing your body's ability to handle stress. Make time to do it regularly, or join a local choir!
Sunlight + Fresh Air + Nature = Therapy
Do something that scares you
But don't do it alone.
Find a safe way to exercise courage, maybe with a sympathetic friend who won't let you back out, but will hold your hand and tell you you're doing a great job.
Overcoming fear is a huge step to recognising that you can beat anxiety.
Again, this is where Jiu Jitsu works wonders for me. Sparring is super scary, but I know I can tap out at any time.
Ask your doctor about therapy or counselling sessions. These can be really great if you are ready to engage and work hard at it.
Practice 5-7-8 breathing.
That's breathing in for a count of 5, holding it for a count of 7, then breathing out for a count of 8.
Do some colouring
Laughter is proven to increase oxygen and calm down the body's stress responses.
Put on a comedy show and laugh out loud, or invite some friends over who you know will make you giggle.
Feeling unprepared can make you stressed, so grab a planner and write out your week, then build a little to do list each day. Ticking boxes when you've achieved something feels good.
If your mind is racing at one hundred miles an hour, grab a piece of paper and write down every thought that comes into your head.
Sometimes just the act of writing something down allows your brain to let it go.
Make a cup of tea
But don't absently minded-ly chuck some PG tips in a mug.
Maybe try different flavoured teas, get a fancy teapot and tea cup. Take time to make it a soothing and enjoyable experience.
What are your favourite ways to calm down when you're feeling anxious?