Anxiety and stress…millions upon millions of people struggle coping with this monster every day. The effects of anxiety on some people can be downright nasty, frightening, and frustrating. People suffering from anxiety can have an assortment of symptoms: insomnia, irregular heartbeats, trembling, fear of dying, chills or hot flashes, dizziness, shortness of breath, sweating, sudden overwhelming fear, nausea, trouble concentrating, breathing rapidly, just to name a few.
Unfortunately, as with many medical conditions, the exact cause and the genesis of anxiety is not exactly known or understood. There are some things that can contribute to anxiety such as traumatic life experiences, inherited traits, a vast assortment of medical causes, or medications.
I recently had a bout with anxiety (as I also did a year or so ago). In both cases, the anxiety was caused by something different. The first time, it was triggered by a medication that had an adverse effect on my body…unfortunately, it lasted quite a while. A short time ago, I began to experience a high level of anxiety again, due mainly to an accumulation of a number of factors such as a medical problem (kidney stones), an overwhelming work load, and a private emotional time of my life.
I decided to go to my Face Book page and ask my friends for their suggestions as to how I could deal with my anxiety and I found many of them to be VERY helpful and successful. I also researched other ways and techniques that individuals deal with anxiety…and It is for these reasons, that I decided to share a list of them with you!!!
It is my hope and prayer that the following “weapons” will help in your “fight” in slaying the dragon…anxiety.
- Chew Bubble / Chewing Gum – The next time you feel the axiety coming on, unwrap a stick of gum, start chewing and enjoy it! According to studies, knowing on a piece of gum lowers anxiety and eases stress. Some researchers believe that the rhythmic act of chewing may increase the blood flow to your brain, while others believe that the smell and taste help you to relax.
2. Get Outside – Fresh air and the feeling of openness, freedom, and the enjoyment of everything that Mother Nature has for you ca have an adverse effect in the way that you feel. The feel of the warm sun, a nice breeze, nice smelling flowers, the songs of the birds, and many other things, will lower your stress. Levels
3. Smell Some Lavender – It has been believed for hundreds of years that certain smells can have a tremendous, positive effect on a person’s mental state. The proof is in the pudding…how often are you doing something, then suddenly experience a certain smell which in turn, “takes you back” to a time that you may have long since forgotten…maybe it brings you to a place that gives you happy memories. Such is the case with Lavender. Lavender has a relaxing, soothing effect with people when it is smelled.
4. Smile and/or Laugh – Don’t be a crab! Just as negative feeling and mind thoughts can have adverse effects on a persons psyche…when a person smiles, it can do just the opposite. When times get difficult and arduous, put a smile on your face…a REAL one. Believe it or ot, when you smile, the muscles around your face and mouth , reduces your body’s stress as well as lowers your heart rate faster once the stressful experience ends.
5. Pray the Alphabet – This technique had a tremendous positive effect with me. I am a Christian with a strong faith in God but it certainly doesn’t mean that you can’t do something like that yourself. When I pray the alphabet, I begin with the latter. A, then pray for every person I know whose name starts with the letter “A”…the on to “B”, etc. I very rarely ever got to the letters in the middle of the alphabet…especially if I did the prayer while I was in bed at night. It is effective because it takes the focus off of my “problem” and think of something else.
6. Listen to Music – Try to listen to something that you enjoy like music or a podcast and try to listen to every word or every note. Music has “magical” powers…it can make you dance, helps plants to grow, lulls babies to sleep, marches men off to war, enchant people and nations, drive out evil spirits, etc. Music can slow down the brain waves, as well as affect a person’s heartbeat and blood pressure. Music can also boast the immune system, boost productivity, and strengthen memory and learning. The point? Listening to music can uplift your soul and spirits sometimes in ways that you could never imagine.
7. Be Nice to Yourself – Some anxiety and negative thoughts and feelings are self-induced. They are sometimes brought on because of the way an individual may think of themselves. If person is continually putting themselves down, pessimistic, and cynical about their life, they will bring much added stress and strain upon themselves…sometimes, more than they should have. Therefore, BE KIND TO YOURSELF! Tell yourself every day when you wake up (and throughout the day) how awesome you are, how much you are loved and cared for. Staying positive and using compassionate self-talk will help you to relax and get a better grip on your situation. Remind yourself in a calm and assured way…the same way that you might help a friend, that “everything will be OK, etc. Also, do things that you enjoy!
8. Write Your Anxiety Away – Take the time each night to find something to write about…things that make you anxious, happy, or anything else that you may find helpful. The act of writing out words and putting your thoughts on paper is very therapeutic. It doesn’t matter if you write it out with a pen, pencil, or crayon…the important thing is to be honest with yourself. Again, this was one of the biggest things that helped me fight off my bouts with anxiety. I slept better at night and helped me to focus on not only the things that bothered me or caused me the anxiety, helped me to realize the things NOT TO FOCUS ON…and to move on with my life.
9. Breathe – When you feel your anxiety coming on or if you are in the process of experiencing it, take the time to focus on your breathing. Focusing on your breathing takes your focus off of the thing that may be causing you the stress. Find a quiet place to go then sit quietly. Take a nice, long, slow breath through your nose (count to 8 while you are doing so), hold your breath for 4 seconds, then release your breath in a slow, soothing fashion (again, count to 8 while you are exhaling). When you start feeling your anxiety begin to build, force yourself to focus on one thing around you instead. Take a relaxing breath and very slowly describe to yourself every detail about that object or person. Keep doing it and don’t allow yourself to focus on your anxiety. Keep focusing outward. Within a few minutes your anxiety attack will go away. It takes practice but with every anxiety attack it gets a bit easier.
10. Talk to A Friend – I found this to be a very, very helpful way. There is nothing better than talking with someone who has gone through the same things that you have. There are many times, that your friends can give you great strategies and techniques how to battle your stresses and anxiety. This blog is a great example of that! Sharing with a loved one allows you to “open up” easier and be more honest. More importantly, you will feel much less alone.
11. Meditation – I’ll keep this one short…take at least 8 minutes, once a day, to focus on something that brings you pleasure…music, a movie, or something that makes you smile. Play it in your head and only focus on that. Eventually, your heart rate will slow down and you will soon return to normal.
12. Yoga / Tai Chi – Learn the good, helpful techniques to slow down your breathing and focus on positive things. Again, this is turn will lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
13. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy – There’s many skills for distress tolerance in dialectical behavioral therapy. They suggest trying to hold ice, using imagery, playing with play dough.
There’s also an acronym that help with mindfulness: RAIN. Recognize that it’s happening. Accept without judgment (no judgment is crucial) it is happening. Investigate how your body feels. Note mentally when/how I t happened and what it felt like.
14. Lay Your Problems at the Feet of Christ – ..and do just that…LEAVE THEM THERE! Don’t go back and dwell on the past or the things that cause you distress or anxiety. Leave your problems and sorrows with the Lord…and keep them there!!
Matthew 6: 25-34 – Do Not Be Anxious: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his ispan of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, Oh you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”