As I’ve discussed in a previous post, I have anxiety. It hits at random times, and often seems unexplainable. I had my first panic attack last year and since then I haven’t been quite the same. Now that I’m aware of my anxiety, I recognize it almost every day.
But I won’t let it take over my life. I do some things to avoid feeling anxious, but I will never let it tell me what I can and cannot do. As I learn to live with it, I have found four important things that help me reduce anxiety:
Yes, everything everyone says about yoga’s calming effect is true. This has been one of the best things I’ve done for my anxiety. Partly because you learn deep breathing which calms you, but also because it forces you to take an hour of your day to think about nothing but the experience of your yoga practice. For one hour, my head isn’t dwelling on anxious thoughts.
However, the calming affect isn’t as effective when I do yoga alone. I find that mentally, I prefer a class setting and an instructor. The ambiance and atmosphere is more relaxing. Just my personal experience.
When my chest starts to tighten, I am now very aware of it (partly due to yoga’s focus on breathing). I realize I am breathing out of the top of my chest, which is a stress point for me. I sit back, close my eyes, and try to breath from my stomach concentrating on filling up my lungs. And then slowly exhale…… then inhale……. and exhale. I do this until I feel my heart rate slow down.
While you do this, don’t think about your anxiety. Forget it exists and focus on your happy place. What makes you relaxed and free? For me it’s the ocean or a lake, but for you it might be a mountain, or a jungle or even the comfort of your own bed. Imagine being there. What do you feel? What do you see? Enjoy it. Get lost in it. Soon, this will distract your mind, and coupled with deep breathing it will help slow down your heart.
FOCUS ON A PROJECT.
This is partly why I started blogging again. My mind likes to dwell on things. I would prefer to dwell on a project like my blogging, than on something else that I end up making into a problem. I overthink everything in my life, which is partly why the anxiety is so bad. When I don’t have time to sit and over-analyze everything, I am a much MUCH happier person*.
*Note… this is different from trying to distract yourself from something bad. Let’s be clear – if there is something in your life that you need to deal with, “burying” it won’t help. Be honest with yourself.
TAKE CARE OF ME.
I went to a naturopath who put me on some vitamin supplements, and who looked at my diet to make sure I was getting enough of everything. I am mostly vegetarian so I was concerned about my B vitamins (which get depleted with stress and are mostly found in meat). I feel a lot better since taking a Vitamin B complex supplement and magnesium. It’s made the world of difference.
I also saw a therapist who gave me tonnes of help. We spent a number of sessions working through the anxiety. I seriously can’t thank her enough. So much of my current happiness is based on the conversations that went on behind those doors. Even though it can be scary, it was 10000% worth it and I would see her again if I felt that I needed to.
In addition to yoga I have been working out more often – about 3-4 times a week. This has been huge for self-care. I didn’t realize before, but I need some good “me” time during the day, and this is a great way to do it. Plus endorphins, right?
Is there anything that you do when you’re feeling anxious?Follow