I have suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember. Whether it be riding the bus or meeting someone new, my anxiety is never too far away. With that being said, everyone’s anxiety differs, and what works for some definitely does not work for others. Through years of therapy and analyzing my own anxious behavior, here are some ways I found I was making it harder for myself.
As a nearly fanatic coffee lover, I know for many of us, coffee is the fuel for life and how we get through our day-to-day errands. What we can do is change our relationship with it. One of the ways I did this was to limit my consumption, which in the beginning is tough. I had my morning coffee to pep me up for the day and then my afternoon coffee to push through the post-lunch slump. I would even have it after some dinners or on my days off. This over-consumption made me jittery without perking me up, so I would still be tired. The jitters leave us with a racing pulse and the inability to stand still. This mimics our anxiety and can lead us to have an attack. Once I enforced the one cup a day rule, I also created a time frame for when to have it. I can drink my coffee anywhere from the morning up until 4 PM at the latest. Giving yourself the opportunity to have it, even in the afternoon, allows your body to get rid of it in time for bed. Coffee at night is a huge no because it affects our sleep which is vital in maintaining optimal mental health.
We all know this one and are probably guilty of not adhering to a better sleep schedule. Getting adequate sleep greatly improves overall function. It gives us better clarity and energy to deal with the day-to-day. It’s vital for our mental health but physical as well. Sleeping is how our bodies recharge but did you know that REM sleep, the deepest sleep we go into, is how our brains process our days? We dream during this stage, and it has shown to have a drastic effect on mental health. According to the Sleep Foundation, those with inadequate REM sleep have an increased risk for anxiety and depression. Ways to improve sleep include reducing stimulants before bed. These include caffeine and phone usage. Limiting your bed for rest only can train your body to fall asleep faster. Aromatherapy with scents such as lavender also helps us fall asleep.
Have you ever caught yourself in a rabbit hole of not-so-pleasant thoughts? You try your hardest not to get sucked into the cycle but ultimately do. That is called rumination and happens fairly often for those who suffer from anxiety. One of the best ways to stop this is through a popular technique called grounding. Grounding allows us to pause and take a moment to observe our surroundings. You can do this by identifying items that are of a certain color or taking note of some pleasant smells. If I am in a particularly difficult rut, I utilize the aroma of eucalyptus. It has a strong scent that I associate positively with and usually helps break up any bad thoughts or feelings. Grounding helps create a sense of calm and control because you’re the one controlling what it is you’re seeking rather than being bombarded by various stimuli.
While these are just a few ways I improved on managing my anxiety, there are plenty of others. I suggest giving these a try to see if they have some impact. Again, what works for some may not work for others, and that is ok. Remember, anxiety does not have to be a controlling factor in your life.
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