Anxiety can be an extremely frustrating and disheartening issue to constantly grapple with. It takes a variance of forms, but they’re generally all draining (emotionally and physically!) and disruptive to daily life. Even if you have high-functioning anxiety, its likely anxiety still weighs on you.
I may not know exactly what you’re going through, but I do have some things that can help.
I dealt with multiple panic attacks a day to rarely having them. And I use these five things to help regulate them.
Routine: Routine is everything! Even if you don’t like schedules, having a daily routine will hold you accountable for new activities you want to implement into your life and simply keep you moving throughout the day. Even if it’s just a small list when you wake up or a face-wash routine before bed, having a few things to check off helps with a sense of progress and of stability. Try saying, “I’m going to take a 30 minute walk when I wake up and have a 10-minute stretch before bedtime.” Starting small can lead to big results!
If you are a big schedule fan, having a planner is a valuable organizational tool. Plus it can be a lot of fun (the planner linked has the most adorable dog theme)! Decorating and designing your planner can be cathartic and relaxing.
A bullet journal is another option for those schedule-inclined. It gives a lot of freedom for your own vision and can be rewarding to complete and check off. You’ll want a journal like this which has an open, dotted concept and is fountain pen proof (Seriously, having it be pen proof is a HUGE deal for those who get artistic).
For those who want more structure, a gratefulness journal is an excellent place to start. It reminds you to change your mindset, a huge part of alleviating anxiety, towards something positive. Everyday listing something you’re thankful for can foster a more consistent positive outlook.
Exercise: Physicality is a great thing to learn on when trying to escape your anxiety. It might be really tough to begin motivating yourself because anxiety can leave you so exhausted, but it truly makes a huge impact. Start low intensity: walking, swimming, hiking three times a week, and gradually work yourself up.
I swear by the Nike Trainer App, which gives workouts of all kinds (Mobility, Endurance, Yoga, and Strength) and all lengths (7-60 minutes) and during quarantine every, single workout is FREE.
Additionally, anxiety can add so much stress to your body, so stretching is essential for relief of that. Yoga is a great place to start undoing the physical stress in your muscles and gut that anxiety builds up.
Sleep: On the other side of this, for those with high-functioning anxiety, knowing how to take a step back and rest can be one of the hardest skills to learn. But it doesn’t have to be a matter of counting sheep, there a number of tips and tricks to hit they hay better and more easily.
Melatonin: One of the best quick fixes is a little tiny pill. Melatonin is something that your body naturally produces, but taking some will help signal your body’s circadian rhythm that it’s time to sleep. Start off with 1-3 mg.
Aromatherapy: Ok, this is not just for sleep, but I’m telling you, this works. Aromatherapy diffusers with slowly release essential oils into the air in your room, which, for one, makes your space smell lovely, but can also help you calm down and relax. I use lavender for sleep and lemongrass during the day (which SMELLS SO GOOD). The diffuser linked includes both of these scents along with six others which you can combine to help with stress relief or allergies or waking up, whatever you might need. Plus, it has a calming light display effect.
Reducing blue light: So you may have heard this before, but blue light actually reduces your melatonin levels keeping you awake. Ideally, you put away the phone before bedtime. But not all of us can do that. Work, school, you name it may keep us on our devices until bedtime. But all hope is not lost, because there are blue light glasses. They help filter out blue light so you can sleep better! And honestly, they’re kind of cute.
Night Time Tea: If you’re a tea drinker like me, you drink teas all times of the day, but it can be especially valuable at night. It will calm your body and digestive system (which can be left in a state of despair by anxiety) and help you sleep. But you want to avoid black teas (which almost always have caffeine in them) and green tea (which is caffeinated as well). Your best bet are herbal teas, but most specifically chamomile (this has added lemon balm for sleep-help).
Breathing: In the middle of a panic attack, it’s common to feel like you can’t breathe. But panic attacks aren’t the best time to practice breathing. In fact, most of us don’t breathe into our stomachs like we should. There’s a great (albeit initially odd) way to work on this.
Lie on the floor next to a wall and place your legs straight on the wall, so all the blood rushes out of your legs. Place your hand on your stomach and breathe through your nose, being cautious that the air flows into your stomach and our through your mouth. Repeat until you feel you understand the habit. You can also add a weight or book on your stomach to practice better. Then, try to implement this technique in your day-to-day breathing.
Play Doh: Yes, you heard me right. Nervous ticks are often dead giveaways to the build up of panic attacks, but it’s possible to redirect that energy elsewhere, into something physical, like your hands. Play Doh is perfect for this purpose because it’s malleable and for the most part mess-free. Try keeping a container in your bag as when you feel yourself getting anxious take it out. Silly putty works too.
Anxiety is something you can work at and minimize, no matter how overwhelming it may feel right now. To learn more about mental health and wellness, click here.