Before I go into a conversation about what I have done to calm my own anxiety I want to explain some of the signs of anxiety. There are many more than what I will write about and everyone is different so what I have done to help myself in the past may be beneficial or have no influence in your life. Some common signs and symptoms of anxiety are:
- Excessive Worry
- Sleeping Problems
- Muscle Tension
- Irrational Fears
- Self Doubt
- Compulsive Behaviors
- Stage Fright
- Eating Disorders
- Chronic Indigestion
- Irregular Heartbeat
There is a major difference between dealing with signs and symptoms and working on the root cause of the anxiety itself. It is easier to fix a symptom than it is to even find a cause at times. For example someone that overeats in order to feel comfort can get an app that tracks their dietary intake for the day and aid that person to eat properly. That app is not going to make you understand why you feel the need for comfort, it is only a bandaid to a broken arm. That broken arm can be insecurity and self hatred that comes out in a unhealthy way of punishing your own body with the way you feel. After mentioning apps I feel that I mist share a few things that have helped with symptoms for me personally.
- My Fitness Pal (App to track food, nutrition, exercise and water levels with personal goals attached.)
- Heart Rate Free (App that I can track my heart rate when I feel anxiety to see that I need to breath and calm down.)
- Calm (App for meditation. I didn’t believe in meditation until I read “10% Happier” by Dan Harris.)
- Self Help Books (“10% Happier” by Dan Harris, “The Natural Health Bible For Women” by Marilyn Glenville PhD, “The Success Journey” by John C. Maxwell.)
These Apps and Books helped me out a great deal but they don’t “fix” you, they just help to understand, monitor and look after yourself. Listed below are the top 10 tips for how I dealt with my own battles with anxiety, I am sharing all of this in hopes that even one person can pull something useful out of this blog posts that helps their personal life.
- Exercise and Physical Activity:
From running, working out, to gardening or hiking, all of these things will get you out of your home and get your blood pumping and your heart working. Fresh air will encourage deep breaths and and a sense of ease. Fitness not only gives you a healthy body but it gets you outside of your head and is an opportunity for fresh thoughts from a new perspective.
2. Do Things That You Fear:
I have always had an unrealistic fear of public speaking and yet somehow I seemed to find myself in situations where it was required that I speak to groups and crowds throughout the years. Each time I got up to speak I wanted to hide in a hole and throw up. It got so bad that at one point I started crying the day before I had to give a presentation. That is when I realized I needed a change, I decided to do something about my fear so that it no longer ruled my life. I started by reading a few books by Dale Carnegie “How To Win Friends and Influence People”, “The Leader In You”, “The Quick and Easy Way To Effective Speaking”. I am by no means a great speaker but I no longer get sick to my stomach, lose sleep, shake uncontrollably or want to be invisible. I look for opportunities to speak because I know the things that are hardest for me will cause the maximum growth.
3. Work At Anxiety Like Your Life Depends On It (Because It Does):
Professionals work at least 40 hours a week at their job. Healthy and active people tend to exercise at least 4 hours a week. The average movie is between 1 1/2 to 2 hours long. Church services can take one or two hours on each Sunday. With all these things that we do that takes hours at a time we do them because we make room for them and see importance for them. My question is how much time do we set aside for ourselves to work on ourselves and treating our anxiety? I can almost guarantee that we barely even think that is a valid option, but it is. Set aside time in the morning to dwell on the good things in life. It gets your day off to an upbeat start. Make sure to set aside some time throughout your day so that if you feel anxiety building you can take a 5 and breath, reevaluate your situation and believe in the best outcomes. Just think that if you put time into yourself like you do with the most important things in your life how healthy would you be?
4. Dream For The Future:
Anxiety can cause even the most extroverted person to become introverted and gloomy. Sometimes anxiety makes you want to isolate yourself and stay at home. This can be a dangerous place to stay because it can turn into a pity-fest where all focus becomes about the bad things in life and all that is going wrong. Dream ahead, write down things that you want to accomplish this year and make another list with a 5, 10, 15 year plan. They can be reasonable or the biggest dreams and passions that you can imagine, but dreaming for the future will get your mind off the present and encourage creative thoughts and goals that will bring you motivation. Dreams, goals and passions are a greater feeling than any form of anxiety and that joy that those thoughts bring you will also produce a high level of confidence that each second will be better than the last one.
5. Enjoy Your Life:
This is a simple heading to make a simple point, your life is good and your anxiety will pass and one day it can go away. While working on your life and learning how to deal with anxiety, it can get exhausting or busy. Keep in mind that the here and now is great! On days that I have felt anxiety I can still notice just how wonderful my world is. On the days that anxiety only felt like a distant memory I feel good and able to enjoy life much easier. It is ok to feel what you are feeling but keep looking at the small things that are making your day exceptional. (Watching your favorite movie, getting a kind letter from a loving family member, volunteering at a community event, sometimes helping others is the best feeling that you can have.)
6. Identify What’s Wrong:
There are times that we just feel things without rhyme or reason but I have to say that many times we can figure out the root cause for what we feel. It might seem like something simple but if we dig a little deeper we can trace back the new started feeling anxiety build up and in turn we can pin point what is the factor. Once we identify the root cause of our anxiety it makes it much more simple to work on it. I would have to say that over half of the struggle with anxiety is simply figuring out what has caused it.
7. Keep Yourself In Check:
This step really comes into play once you start getting good at identifying what is wrong. Keeping yourself in check is a precursor to finding a root cause. Before you find yourself consumed with anxiety you can be aware of yourself enough to start feeling your tendencies that show up before a full blown anxiety attack. Learning to be aware of yourself takes time and practice but the more you are aware the more likely you will learn your key triggers and how to reroute yourself.
When you feel your anxiety build it is easy to spiral into a high heart rate, become nauseated or feel dizzy. It has been key for my life to learn to de-stress when I started to feel anxious. Learn to take deep slow breaths, meditate, relax in the bathtub with a good book, write, go out on the quad or motorcycle to feel the breeze and just talk to someone you trust. We all have a go to thing that beings us instant peace, find out what yours is and use it to de-stress when things get hard. Don’t let your anxiety rule your day, instead change your day and make it great by choosing to do the things that calm and relax you.
9. Things That You Love:
No matter what is going on in our lives it helps to be surrounded by family, friends, pets and things that we love. Not only do these things bring joy and peace but they can also bring familiarity. Anxiety in the past for me felt like chaos and what helped me most was predictability. I would watch my favorite movie because I knew how it would end, I remembered all my favorite scenes and it continuously brought me happiness. Life is not predictable and we can’t always be in control so when anxiety, chaos and changes occur we can try to flow with it to the best of our ability. Once you get a chance to be on your own, that is when you can surround yourself with loving people and comforting things. How can anyone be anxious when you are engulfed in the things that you love, not as a way to mask your feelings but as tool to aid you in learning to take care of yourself better and to take a break.
10. Change What You Are Doing (Learn, Practice, Grow and Accomplish.):
All of the other nine items listed above helped me to get overcome most of my anxiety but nothing compares to this last one, change. I would love to say that I never feel anxious or that when I get up to speak to a group of people I don’t feel sick to my stomach still but the reality is this. I get nervous when I do new things, but I don’t want to live a life that way so I am continuously working on myself. I love to read books about public speaking, I take a deep breath and think about three things that make me happy when I’m feeling anxious, I sit down and drink a glass of water when I feel shaky just so that I can calm my nerves. It is a joy to say that I am no longer as susceptible anxiety like I was a year ago. I have grown, learned about my triggers and educated myself on the topic. Part of getting better at dealing with an obstacle is knowing that you are not alone. We may all experience anxiety in different forms from different triggers but we can look at someone that has been in our shoes and see where they are at now to encourage ourselves to overcome anxiety. Anyone can become an expert on a topic if they pour enough time and effort into it. Are you going to set aside some time to deal with a life altering issue that can be worked on or are you going to let it win and cause you to live a mundane and quite life?