Anxiety has really been beating my ass lately. It has started to keep me up at night and the less I sleep the more anxious I feel and the more anxious I feel the less I sleep. I’m not someone that can function without sleep, I literally feel like I will crumble into a million pieces. Knowing all this I’m sure you can imagine how I’ve been doing. With all this going on I decided now is the perfect time to write an anxiety survival guide. Whenever I’m having a hard time managing my anxiety I try to use it as an opportunity to practice self-care. I want to write something inspiring to you guys about how this will help you find a greater sense of peace or something but honestly, I don’t give a crap about the self-improvement stuff right now. I just want to sleep through the night and get through the workday without feeling like my body is going to actually explode. Anyways, here all of the things I do or try to do to manage this beast called anxiety.
Having anxiety is extremely draining. If you don’t have a self-care practice you definitely need one. Find things that make you feel happy and relaxed and make them a priority. That means it’s just as important as work, school or whatever it is that you are currently prioritizing. Anytime life gets hard you should up your self-care and dealing with anxiety is can definitely be a real struggle. Check out my post of 30 Self Care Activities That Don’t Cost a Damn Thing.
See a Therapist
Anxiety is a treatable disorder and a licensed therapist has spent years researching and training to be able to help you. I have a whole article about what you need to know before you go to a therapist here. If you haven’t been to therapy it can feel like a really big deal but if you’re serious about taking care of your mental health and addressing your anxiety it is definitively worth trying out. I use BetterHelp for online therapy. They will match you with a certified therapist that you can communicate with over text, video chat or phone. The best thing is it’s unlimited so you can talk to your therapist every day. I love this service because when I’m really anxious it can be hard to go to an actual office for an appointment. BetterHelp lets me talk to a therapist from my house or on my lunch break if I’m having a crap day at work.
Use Essential Oils
Lots of people have been able to find relief from anxiety by using essential oils. I carry lavender oil when I travel. Find a scent that you find comforting and carry it with you. Just knowing I have something comforting with me helps me feel calm especially in situations I find stressful (airplanes!). Lavender oil is my favorite to carry with me right now.
Get Some Sleep
Getting regular sleep is crucial for your mental health. When I can’t sleep I try to get on a super serious schedule and go to bed and get up at the same time every day. I always try to get up really early and work hard all day so I’m tired at the end of the day. Otherwise, I can lay in bed for hours worrying about stuff that will probably never happen. It’s like all of the worst things imaginable playing on a loop in my head.
I know when I’m struggling with the last thing I want to do is exercise. I can barely make myself do it when I’ve got my shit together and everything’s going well. Exercise has been shown to alleviate anxiety symptoms. If you’re like me and not into working out thing try to find an activity that you like to do and make it part of your routine. If you hate the gym try other exercise activities. I like bike riding and dog walking. It doesn’t have to be intense and anything is better than doing nothing. I always fall into this trap of thinking I need to be doing really intense workouts but I hardly ever feel motivated enough to do them and I end up doing nothing. I try to remember a walk around the block is better than just laying around on the couch. If you’re looking for a fun, easy and free workout check out my favorite dance workouts.
Sugar has been shown to make anxiety worse. If you’re really struggling with anxiety try to cut it out altogether. If you can’t bring yourself to cut it out try just eliminating your biggest offenders. Mine was always soda so I cut it out and try to stick with water now. If you’re interested in kicking sugar check out Sara Wilson’s webpage.
I used to love drinking coffee so this was really hard for me but it has made a big difference. Caffeine has been shown to make anxiety symptoms worse. Check out this article on Psychology Today about a woman who quit coffee to cure her anxiety. I used to be a caffeine junkie so I know how intense giving up coffee is. I haven’t been able to eliminate caffeine all together but I have switched to tea and I have seen great results in my mental health.
Find an affirmation to help with the area of anxiety you are struggling with. I have a whole guide about using affirmations you can find here. I like to use something optimistic when I’m feeling anxious like:
The future is so bright and there is happiness waiting for me
My anxiety makes me strong and I am thankful for everything it is teaching me
My feelings are always temporary
Find something that really speaks to you and writes it down somewhere that you will see it. Put it on post-it notes and stick it on your mirror and in your car.
I find a long yoga session really helpful when I’m feeling anxious. Going to the gym doesn’t fit in my budget or schedule right now so I’ve been doing my workouts from YouTube videos. I love it because it’s free and it’s easy to fit a short video into my daily schedule. Here’s a yoga routine for stress and anxiety that you can check out.
Listen to Music
Create a calming playlist you can use whenever you feel anxious. I really like Explosions in the Sky which is a band that only plays instrumental music. It can be whatever works to help you feel calm and happy. I have a playlist of pretty acoustic songs on Spotify you can check out.
Sometimes things suck and that’s just how it’s going to be. When I get too in my head and start worrying about what could go wrong my anxiety spikes. I find that if I make peace with the fact that sometimes life is just going to suck it makes everything a lot easier.
Get Excited about the Future
This is one phase of your whole life. You’re going to experience a range of emotions including sadness and anxiety but those feelings don’t last forever. You have laughter and happiness waiting for you in the future. I find a good dose of optimism can really help relieve my anxiety. Spend some time writing out goals that really excite you. I love the book The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul it is all about creating goals for your life that really inspire you.
Positive Self Talk
I am extremely hard on myself and I find it really easy to get down on myself. Beating yourself up doesn’t help anything in the long run and only makes you feel bad. Give yourself a freaking break. You’re doing the best you can and dealing with anxiety or any kind of mental health issue is really hard. Anytime you start picking on yourself give yourself a pep talk instead. Tell yourself the same kind of encouragement you would give a close friend. No one deserves to be talked down to and you shouldn’t be doing it to yourself. My life got exponentially better when I got really serious about cutting out the negative self-talk. Check out my post of pep talks if you need some inspiration.
I personally suck at breathing exercises but I know they have worked for a lot of people. This article has some good breathing exercises for anxiety you can try. The video below has some good yoga breathing exercises
Challenge Anxious Thoughts
If you find yourself worrying about something ask yourself if worrying about it will really help your situation or change anything. If not try your best to let it go. Ask yourself why you are worrying about things you can’t control. Remind yourself that life is going to bring what it is going to bring and your job is just to stay in the moment and feel the best that you can. I tend to get caught up worrying about little things that have no impact on my life. When I find myself starting to get anxious I’ll ask myself “will I remember this three years from now?”. I find it helpful to challenge my anxious thoughts by putting them into perspective.
Create Small Steps
If your anxiety is coming from feeling overwhelmed try breaking up your task into small chunks. Whenever I start to get overwhelmed or anxious I like to write out a to-do list. I even carry a notebook around in my bag just for this purpose. I have a set of printables you can use to make a mental health planner here. That way if I’m out and I start thinking about something I need to do I can write it down and stop thinking about it. If you have a big job in front of you break it down into small manageable tasks and focus on doing one thing at a time.
I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. You can download a free printable list of hotlines here and join the free mental health support group on Facebook here. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.
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