A few years ago, I struggled with the feeling of anxiety. It got so aggressive at one point that I experienced insomnia, digestive issues, and heavy chest pains. The fear of that time in life, and fear of what seemed to be a dark future began to overwhelm me and for a while I did not know how to deal with it. By the grace of God, I was able to try a few methods that helped me overcome the heaviness of anxiety, and live a life free from the burden of being obsessed with control. Here are ten tips that helped me get through anxiety.
1. Take Time Alone to Think
At the time of my anxiety I was always on the go. I barely got any sleep because I would come home late, and my weekends were spent out, or hurriedly catching up on chores. Even when I slept I felt exhausted when I woke up, as if I didn’t sleep at all. I eventually realized I had to take some time alone to think about what was happening to me, what triggered these feelings, and find some reassurance in myself and through reading some helpful Bible verses. Sometimes we get caught up in the routines and “need-to-dos” of life, that we forget to stop and assess. This step is super important.
2. Breathe Deeply
This tip is pretty obvious; breathing deep is one of the most popular ways to calm down during an anxiety attack, or a spell of extreme fear and worry. I signed up for a hot yoga class, went a few times when I really needed it, and wrote my prayers in a journal. I wrote down the things I was worried about, how I felt about those problems, and asked for guidance and wisdom to see past the fear and into comfort. Praying helped a lot because it forced me to look right at why I was so worried, and see it for what it was. It also helped me let go, because once I put it on paper, it felt like it wasn’t with me as much anymore.
3. Accept the Situation and that You Are Not in Control
This was a super tough one for me. Anxiety made me a control freak. I was so scared about history repeating itself, or potential bad outcomes, that I wanted to literally guarantee it wouldn’t happen. The problem was I didn’t only want to control myself, but I wanted to control other people too. But this is no way to live… giving threats, making ultimatums, and getting worked up when we don’t have control. Accepting this was probably the biggest thing that helped me let go. I realized I have no control over anyone else, or what happens to me, but I do have control over myself–how I speak, think, and behave. So I started to focus on that.
4. Talk to Someone, Don’t Rant on Social Media
Ranting on social media during an anxiety attack is never a good idea. You risk having a complete stranger or distant friend giving you advice in an attempt to help you, when they’re not even sure what’s really going on, or what led to the anxiety attack. It’s also a bad idea because when you get through your anxiety, that post remains there, and even if you delete it, you can be sure that at least a handful of people saw it. You might regret what you said in that moment and you won’t be able to take it back. It’s a better idea to message, call, or meet with someone you trust to share what you’re going through and get some perspective.
5. Do Something that Makes You Feel Good
I recommend exercise, even though 90% of the time I don’t feel up to it. It literally releases “feel good” hormones in your body, helps regulate your mood, and gives you a healthy outlet to exert your frustrations. Run as hard as you can, bike further than you have before, max out your reps in the weight room, or work it at Zumba class! You can also spend time in nature, or listen to happy music. Get that bad mood outta your system! Shake it off!
6. Get Your Beauty Sleep
A symptom of anxiety is insomnia, so sleeping might seem impossible, but you need it. If you can’t fall asleep naturally, play soothing music, put some lavender drops on your pillow case, and just close your eyes. Make sleep happen! If you feel tired in the day, take a nap. Sleep has such a huge impact on how we feel and we could all use some good R&R. Just look at this cute baby falling asleep! Doesn’t sleep look like fun?
7. Take Vitamin Supplements
Sometimes the reason for mood problems is a physical imbalance of something in our bodies. I notice I’m at a higher risk of sadness during the winter months because there’s not enough bright, warm sun. My trainer recommended taking Vitamin D supplements, and it made a pretty big difference in my mood. I also have anemia so when I’m feeling extra tired, it’s often because I’m not getting enough iron from my diet. Be sure to check with your doctor if you have any allergies, food sensitivities, or health issues before running a course of supplements, even if they’re natural/organic.
8. Pamper Yourself
There’s nothing like a hot bath, some candles, and a good book to warm your heart and melt away your worries. Treating yourself reminds you that you’re valuable, and that you are deserving of love and respect. Sometimes you have to give that attention to yourself, and that’s okay. Paying attention to your own personal needs and giving yourself care can help you feel better.
9. Take Responsibility
This might seem ridiculous, but one thing that helped me accept my worries and let them go is taking responsibility. When we get stuck in a rut of negativity because of anxious feelings, it’s easy to put all the blame on the people we believe caused our pain. However, we have to take some responsibility for how we are handling the situation. What I mean by this is, we still need to be careful not to snap at people, say hurtful things, or behave in an unloving way. No matter what anyone has done to us, we still have the power to do the right thing. We still have control over what we do, and that’s a huge part of this. I’ve met people who are big self-victimizers. They create negative situations, and when they get negative feedback, they blast the other person and throw a huge pity party for themselves to make everyone feel sorry for them. Let’s not be those kinds of people, ok?
10. Focus on Love
It’s hard to be loving when we’re angry or annoyed with someone, but we can actually start a chain reaction within ourselves if we start with love first. What am I talking about? If you start your day with gratitude, or think of positive things you love about someone, it’s harder to get really upset with them. By focusing on the characteristics that we value and appreciate, we put something positive in the place of something negative, that we would normally complain or worry about. This helps with the whole control freak thing. One verse I try to remember often is 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…” If I’m too busy loving someone, there won’t be time for thoughts of fear, uncertainty, and worry to consume my thoughts. Love is magical!