Anxiety affects some more than others, but one thing for sure is we have all felt it a smidgen at some point in our lives. Maybe you are new to anxiety, diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder or a sufferer during stressful situational periods. As a little help (and hope) I have collated a few hacks that help me personally on anxious days and help ride the wave. Just like the Buddhists say 'pick what works for you, leave what doesn’t'.
Accept. Accept you are having an anxious day, please don’t fight it. Use it to slow down, get back on track and be kind to yourself. Think of anxious periods as little reminders to get back to prioritizing daily self-care.
It will end. It always does, it always has and it always will. In the moment it may not feel that way, but it must peak and it will lower. I repeat IT WILL END.
Belly Breathe. Here lies the secret to almost instant physical relief - the tool of all tools. When you are anxious your breath tends to be fast and shallow up in your chest area, so simply place your hand on your stomach and focus on bringing your breath down to your belly. Do this as much as necessary and trust me no one notices.
Hour-by-hour. Forget that famous expression ‘take it day-by-day’ when your pot boils over with overwhelm and you are feeling anxious a mere 24-hours feels like a very long time. Slow it down, take it hour-by-hour. Example ‘next I will lie in the sun and focus on my belly breath'.
Watch the thinker. A great skill I learnt by reading the ‘Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle many moons ago now. A very common issue for anxiety sufferers is we believe we are our mind, that thoughts are things and of course we are not our mind. Sometimes we need to simply watch our mind - with no judgement!
Emergency iPhone notes. I have a page in my notes called 'mantras' they are kind words to myself and positively triggering 'one-liners' that I have said to myself for years that I know almost instantly anchor me right back into my body - my true north.
Meditate. You knew it had to be in here somewhere. Whatever kind you like to practice, just make sure you slow down enough to ground yourself and do it. Don't practice? Begin with simply 5-minutes a day, there are some great apps to help you begin your journey (the greatest journey I have personally ever been on).
No coffee (or tea). This took me a long time to realize the serious link and then a long time to finally put it into strict action. It’s quite simple when you are feeling anxiety coming on or deep in a wobble DO NOT DRINK ANTHING WITH CAFFEINE. Caffeine raises your heart rate and will stimulate an already overstimulated nervous system. Download a free food diary to help kick the crave.
Check in with your drinking. Were you hungover today? Have you been consistently drinking an alcoholic drink every day this week? Yes booze can wonderfully turn on that sluggish parasympathetic nervous system (aka the brake), but when continuously consumed it can do more harm than good. Not sure how much you drink per week? Try my 7-day alcohol photo diary challenge
Nourish. My cravings are fascinating on these days. I flutter between famished to nauseous within hours. One consistent is I want sugar and I want it hard and fast. Sugar will not serve you, it will only make the energy waves bigger. Go for slow release (aka low glycemic index) comforting carbohydrate, paired with both protein and some good fats to balance your blood sugar levels.
Supplement. As busy urbanites we can't always get what we need through food consistently every single week. Before you start using supplementation I would recommend going to your local GP (a good one) and requesting a 'full blood count' plus thyroid functioning, B12 & Iron. However, if you have been given a full bill of blood health I would recommend supporting your nervous system by supplementing with the basics like high-quality Magnesium, B-Vitamins & a fish oil. Book in for a consult to gain access to 'practitioner only' products and a customised supplementation plan.
Pick up a book. It’s very easy to stick Netflix on and numb out on the world and sometimes this is okay to do (with a switch off time), but a really positive action is to pick up those sacred books that have worked wonders so many other times and work on getting yourself out of a place of pain to power again. A favourite of mine being ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ by Susan Jeffers.
Sleep. It really can be the best medicine. No guilt, just go hard and heavy. Organizing what you are going to do when you wake up from this deep bliss can be a great way to efficiently shake a particulary bad wobble.
Shock the body. Now I usually do this at the end of an episode when I'm feeling a bit stronger. I have two things that can work wonders to shake off my friend anxiety. I have a hill that I quite literally bolt up, my mind has no chance to get a word in and then I finish it off with a dip in the ocean, colder the better, so I literally have no excuses.
So as you can see if you change your attitude to these anxious days, you may even start calling them ‘reset days’. It’s simply a day to remind you to put your ‘tools’ in place.
You are so loved.