You know what I’m talking about. The tightness in your chest. The struggle to breathe steadily. Feelings of overwhelm. The racing heart. The panic attacks. The anxious, negative thought spiral that gets you nowhere.
I have been there, my friend! If you experience or struggle with anxiety, know that you’re not alone!
I have dealt with the experiences that come along with anxiety for many years now, but I do not feel the same level of anxiety on a daily basis like I used to and that is a HUGE blessing!
Though I am not a health professional and you may have to experiment to discover what works for you, I do feel that there are things that we can do to help us live and cope with anxiety.
Feelings of stress and anxiety are a normal part of life, something that you CAN learn to manage and live with.
Sometimes managing your anxiety may require seeking help from a therapist or taking medication,and that is A-OK and totally normal! Know that if you struggle with anxiety, you CAN recover and even feel better when you’re right in the middle of it! There is always hope!
Anxiety and mental health is something I that I feel should be talked about openly so that we can help support each other through those panicky moments or anxiety-filled seasons that inevitably come.
Here are ten things that have helped me manage my anxiety when I start to feel or recognize those tell-tale signs in my body and mind:
1. Establish and stick to a healthy morning routine.
As I’ve shared before, as soon as I decided to ditch the AM Instagram scroll and email check and instead use my morning hours for exercise, scripture study, and meditation, my anxious symptoms lessened significantly!
Set your tone for the day by putting first things first. How do you want to feel throughout the rest of your day? For me, I want to move through my day with a sense of calm, feeling at peace and balanced.
Do whatever you need to do to get yourself into that peaceful state right when you wake up, before giving attention to anything else!
2. Find ways to center yourself and do them every day.
For me, I find that I value and need to center myself in five main ways:
Spiritually through scripture study and prayer.
Physically through yoga, taking walks or doing some other form of exercise.
Mentally through meditation, prayer, and getting outside.
Emotionally through writing in a journal, practicing gratitude and spending quality time with friends and family.
Creatively by trying a new recipe, playing my guitar, or creating something that didn’t exist before.
I try to connect with my spiritual, physical, mental, emotional and creative centers every single day.
What helps you to feel centered? Do those things every day!
3. Ask for help. See a therapist.
There is no shame in letting someone close to you know that you’re struggling!
Even just expressing my feelings of anxiety out loud to my husband or therapist helps me to see them for what they are – just thoughts and feelings that may not even be connected to reality.
Speaking your worries out loud helps take the fear out of them.
I went through therapy a couple of years ago and it was such a healing experience! I still look back at my notes often and use the practices my therapist taught me to help me manage my anxiety when it crops up.
4. Get enough sleep.
This is HUGE! Lack of sleep can impact every area of your health, so make sure you are going to bed as early as you need to to get your 8+ hours of sleep in!
I find that I feel more anxious when I miss out on sleep or when we’re traveling and jet lagged. Sleep is key!
I know, this sounds hokey, but it works! Practicing meditation and calming my mind by tuning into my breath has become a valuable tool.
It’s something that I can do at any time, anywhere.
Taking deep breaths, closing my eyes, and breathing through panicky moments has helped me get through panic attacks and can help me center myself when I’m feeling stressed.
I love using the Calm app to guide my meditations, but you can pause and take a few deep breaths, listening to the sound of your breathing and feeling it throughout your body at any moment of the day!
6. Write in your journal every day. Spill out all of your concerns and grateful thoughts onto paper.
Just like expressing my concerns out loud helps take the fear out of them, spilling my worries or anxious thoughts onto paper helps get them out of my head and takes some of the power out of them.
At first, writing down all my fears and worries was very helpful to me, but my focus now has shifted to only writing down positive and grateful thoughts in my journal and not allowing room in my mind and heart for stressful or negative thoughts to stay and make themselves at home.
7. Use prayer.
Ask the Lord for help with those things that overwhelm or worry you. Remember that all things are in God’s hands. He will comfort you and is aware of your needs at every moment!
8. Eat wholesome foods.
If you’re like me, feelings of stress and anxiety are compounded if I eat too much sugar or don’t fuel my body with healthy, wholesome foods.
I feel shaky and off balance when I don’t eat well. You may need to lay off the caffeine or other things that may be harmful to you in order to lesson those physical feelings of anxiety.
9. Do a digital detox.
I want to do a whole post on this, because I think it is so valuable!
One way I have helped myself detox from my phone is by turning off every single notification, including those pesky badge notifications that tell you you have unread messages or emails even when your phone is locked.
I don’t even have any kind of notifications on for my text messages, so I have complete control over when I decided to check and respond to texts without feeling any pressure to do so.
Periodically setting aside time away from your phone, laptop, or other electronic devices can be really healing! I LOVE prioritizing experiences where I have to turn my phone ALL THE WAY OFF!
Plan ahead so you can spend a day, a few days, or even a week on vacation where you don’t have to look at social media, check your emails, or respond immediately to text messages.
You may be amazed at how much slower and relaxed your life feels without that false sense of pressure.
10. Have hope!
Remember that what you might be experiencing right now is temporary.
Though it may take some time to work through your anxiety, you won’t always feel this way.
When you have a panic attack, remember that it’s happened to you before and you got through it. Despite what your mind may tell you, you are not going to die! Ha!
When you feel overwhelmed, remember that you’ve endured through hard things before and you can do it again. You have tools to help you and people who love you.
Learning to live and cope with anxiety builds resilience and optimism, and eventually it won’t feel as pressing and immediate as it may right now.
Tomorrow is a new day! Tomorrow will be better. Heck, later today might even be better!
I would love to know what has helped you cope with and manage your anxiety. Leave me a comment below or send me an email!