If you’ve been following along for awhile you know that I have struggled on and off with anxiety for as long as I can remember. Sometimes it provides me with a steady buzzing energy that allows me to execute at a high level and other times it has left me completely debilitated, gasping for air, between panic attacks and fighting intrusive thoughts, unable to get out of bed.
If you clicked through to this page because you are also experiencing symptoms of anxiety I want you to know you are not alone and anxiety is one of the most highly treatable mental health disorders.
If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety it is important to seek professional help from a doctor or therapist that you trust. The tools and tips I share below are evidence-based and have supported me many times, however everyone is different and they should not be used in replacement of medical advice.
Here are some important things to remember if you’re feeling anxious;
1. Anxiety is impermanent and it will pass. You will not feel this way forever.
It’s important to remember that anxiety is highly treatable but most people suffering from anxiety wait over ten years before seeking help. The sooner you are able to get support the better, so if you think you might be anxious, please reach out for help.
2. You can’t think your way out of anxiety.
When you are anxious rational thinking is hijacked by the body’s stress response so positive affirmations and reasoning with yourself just won’t cut it. This is a time to focus on supporting the physical body so that the parasympathetic nervous system (rest & digest) can turn back on.
Below are some ways to support yourself ;
- Unload responsibilities (it’s okay to ask for help!) and rest/sleep as much as you can.
- Limit caffeine, alcohol and stimulants like refined sugar. I don’t drink alcohol anymore and stick with decaf or half-caff lattes these days. It just wasn’t worth it anymore. I talk about this in my podcast, “What I learned in a Year Without Alcohol”.
- Ensure you are staying well hydrated with lots of water.
- Be mindful of your media consumption sticking with light-hearted shows and books. This is a great time to take a break from social media.
- Ensure you are eating consistently every 2-3 hours. Include protein whenever you can to help keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Try running cold water over your hands for 30-60 seconds. This stimulates the vagus nerve informing your body it is safe.
- When you’re not cold plunging your hands, keep your body and especially your extremities warm.
3. Stay in the present moment.
Anxiety has a way of luring us into future-thinking or rumination about the past. One of the most powerful anxiety remedies is mindfulness. When you’re feeling anxious practice bringing your attention to the present moment by scanning all five senses. What do you see, hear, taste, smell and feel in this exact moment? You may find it helpful to anchor to your breath, noticing the air moving in and out of your nostrils.
4. Practice 4-4-6 breathing
I love this pattern of breath and find it instantly helps me feel more in control when everything else feels out of control. Start by breathing in for 4 counts. At the top of the breath, hold for four counts and then exhale for a total of 6 counts. The elongated exhale informs your body that you are safe and calm (even if you’re not exactly feeling that way!). Repeat 10x.
5. While anxiety can feel like your greatest enemy, it can actually be your biggest teacher. Below are some resources to help empower you in the face of anxiety;
The Anxiety Toolkit – I created this online program in partnership with Dr. Michele Kambolis to help soothe the nervous system and provide anxiety relief. Complete with 21 evidence-based tools that you can access anytime, anywhere right to your phone, this is my must have resource for anyone living with anxiety. Click HERE to see if this program is right for you.
Raw Beauty Talks Podcast
I’ve had the honour of hosting some incredible conversations about anxiety on the pod so I’ve rounded up a few of my favourites below. Tune in and take notes! I know I sure did.
All Things Anxiety, Medication and SSRIs with Dr. Michele Kambolis. Listen here.
Change Your Brain, Change Your Life with Dr. Daniel Amen. Listen here.
Kaitlyn Bristowe on Mental Health & Living A Life Bigger than Your Fears. Listen here.
The Vagus Nerve : A Key to Wellbeing with Dr. Michele Kambolis. Listen here.
I hope this post provides some helpful tips and tools that you can apply to your life right away, but most of all I hope it gives you hope that you can reduce the symptoms of anxiety and you are not alone.
I’m always only an email away so if you need support please don’t hesitate to ask!
xo – Erin