3 Simple Steps I'm Taking to Reduce My Anxiety
No, it is not the most fashionable or desired accessory, but anxiety has been a part of my “design” since childhood. I have always kept it hidden behind my metaphorical curtains, tucked away under smiles and positive outlooks. While it is something I have learned to accept and function with mostly privately, I have recently been going through an emotional transition where I have felt drawn to express some of my challenges publicly. Partly because I want to be a voice for those like me to know they are not alone, but also because it helps me to have an outlet. The older I get, the stronger it seems to get. I am beginning to think if hiding it has not worked, maybe exposing it can. I could write a memoir on how it has ruled my life behind the scenes, but “Why would anyone want to read it?” it asks me. I will just save that for another time.
I first want to say that this is no way a replacement for professional help, and as always if you have any concerns definitely talk to a professional. As part of my journey to being more open about my lifelong battle, I just wanted to share a few things I have been doing currently to help try to manage my stress levels and prevent anxiety and panic attacks. These things are by no means new-found or extreme measures, but very simple ones that I have been trying to make a priority in my own daily life.
Hot Tea > Coffee
I have always loved coffee, probably too much. Most days a year for me have started with a large travel mug of the stuff, including a copious amount of creamer mixed in. Of course caffeine can have positive effects for certain reasons, but for someone who deals with excessive stress, it is probably not the best idea to have a daily stimulant intake, especially first thing in the morning. With that being said, I have been working on replacing most morning mugs with hot tea instead, and also having a cup in the afternoon and at night. I have been trying different caffeine-free herbal varieties and so far I am really enjoying the tastes and noticing practically immediate calming effects. Aside from that, I love how many other health benefits there are from drinking it. For example, my blood pressure teeters at a fairly high level for my age and I noticed after a few weeks of drinking tea, at my latest doctor’s appointment it was significantly lower than normal. I was shocked, especially because it is usually higher at the doctor due to nerves. At the very least, it is helping to keep me more hydrated.
Normally, I would have made a mental health Pinterest board private for fear of what someone would think of me. This time I am ignoring that mentality and made mine public to share with others who might need to find them on their feeds like I did. There are so many resources out there, and I love how Pinterest keeps it all tidy and easy to find what you are looking for in a hurry. Reading quotes that put your feelings into words and learning breathing exercises and grounding techniques can be what feels like an actual life saver when the moment strikes.
Not just to those online, but to my family and close friends, to my coworkers, to my acquaintances. People I care about. People that (despite what my anxiety may tell me at times) care about me, too. Instead of hiding it from them, maybe telling them about it will make it easier to get through an attack if one happens while they are around. What I have been finding with this exercise, is that each person I have had a conversation with has given me a new perspective for me to see it from, great tips for getting through an attack that their therapist recommended, and had complete compassion for me, even if they could not fully understand what I am going through.
These are just 3 easy things I have been trying to do on a consistent basis to change my habits and the way I have been doing things for so long. While I am seeing some improvement already, I know there is a long road ahead of me and I may never reach the destination. I have to be okay with that.
Do you live with anxiety, panic disorder, or any other mental illnesses? If you are open to it, I would love for you to share what helps you in the comments. Maybe it can help one of us, too!