Let me first say that I am not a medical professional, and I am not advising anyone who is on medicine to quit taking it. We are each different and handle our anxiety differently and that is okay. Some people need medicine, and there is nothing wrong with that AT ALL. In this post, I just want to share with you some ways I manage my anxiety without medicine.
That said, I have come up with 20 ways that I manage my anxiety without relying on medicine. I hope these help you manage your anxiety better whether on medicine or not.
1. Physical Exercise.
This one is huge people…get moving! You may not feel like it, but if you can just make yourself walk, run, swim, hit up the gym, etc. it will make you feel so much better. I notice that after I exercise my anxiety symptoms are all but gone. Exercise makes my body feel better, and in turn if my body feels better, then usually so does my mind. Also, nerd moment here… scientifically speaking when you exercise your body releases endorphins, and endorphins trigger a positive feeling in the body that not only makes you happy but relaxes you.
2. Take time off of social media accounts.
Seriously people, turn off the notifications on your phone, unplug from the world online, and take a break. There have been numerous studies done that show an association between social media use and depression, anxiety, and sleep problems. This online world of media lets you constantly compare and criticize both yourself and your life. Why put yourself in that position? Take a break!
Breathe one deep breath in through your nose slowly, hold, and release through your mouth slowly. Repeat this as often as you need. On particularly anxious days, I can find myself doing this almost every hour. You may still feel anxiety, but when you’re breathing like this your body is not able to go into a full on panic attack. Your breathing fights your body and keeps it from being able to panic. Neat right?!
This is extremely important. Sleep is your body's time to recover and restore. Sleep deprivation can make even the most relaxed person stressed and overwhelmed, and if you suffer from anxiety it makes your anxiety even worse. Sleep lets your body recover from the day's activities, recharge and get ready for the next day. If you are not sleeping and letting your mind and body recover then you will feel run down and overwhelmed before your day even starts in the morning.
5. Find and read a good daily devotional that focuses on fear or anxiety.
This for me is one of my biggest aids in managing my anxiety. Every morning while I wait for my shower to get warm I read my devotional. It gives me a good start and a wonderful perspective on my upcoming day. Below are some of my two favorite authors and their devotionals.
6. Conversational Prayer
I pray throughout my entire day almost as though I am having a stop and go conversation with the big man. I pray, pray, pray. I pray for strength to be stronger than my anxiety, I pray for peace throughout my days, and I pray for God to give me the ability to replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts. If I am stressed about driving, I will pray on my drive until I get where I am going safely. If I am faced with deadlines and to-do lists miles long, I pray to not be overwhelmed and for God to help me prioritize and find peace. Praying also makes me feel not so alone, because I am carrying this other person, the big man, with me wherever I go. Talk yourself through it by talking to God.
Think of all the things you are thankful for, and focus on them and how grateful you are. When your mind is full of stressful thoughts, try to replace them with thankfulness. It may sound silly, but in my mind I literally list out the things that I am thankful for. I think of all the big things I am thankful for: my daughter, my husband, my family, my friends, my house, my job, food, clothes, car, health money, etc. I then continue all the way through the small things I enjoy everyday that I could easily take for granted: the hot water in my shower, the yummy cup of coffee I get every morning, the time to enjoy my new book, etc. After I go through this list I usually have a better mental perspective.
8. Talk to someone.
This is a big one, reach out to someone that you can pour your soul out and know they will not judge you and will still love you no matter what they hear. It may not always be someone who understands anxiety, but there is at least one person out there that you can talk with. Confiding in others is so important. It makes you feel better to put words to your thoughts, it makes you feel better to feel a little more validated in what you are feeling, and it makes your feel better to feel understood and not alone.
Find something that makes you laugh. Watch funny videos on YouTube if you have too. Whatever you have to do in order to get laughing, do it! Laughing releases a relaxant that diminishes the stress throughout your entire body.
10 . Plan and write a to-do list if your mind is on overdrive.
When you feel overwhelmed with life get out a piece of paper, or as I like to use a sticky note, and write down everything you need to get done. Plan out big pieces of your day ahead of time so you feel prepared. For example, one day I found myself stressing out about needing to go to the grocery store after school and needing to get home and unloaded before 4:00, so we could leave for a dinner. After the dinner I knew I had x, y, z to do before company came the next day, and I was stressed not being able to just get them done and off my plate beforehand. The simple reality was that I did not have time to do them before. I was stressing about something I had no control over. I was stressed because these things were not already done, and I was afraid I would forget them. I took out a sticky note and wrote down all the things that needed to be done and carried it with me in my purse. I felt better knowing I had an action plan to get them done and a specific reminder of everything I had to do. Plans and To-do lists are the bomb!
11. Snuggle your baby or your pets, if you have them.
This is the BEST therapy. Hold tight to those sweet little people or animals that love you unconditionally no matter what. It is therapeutic to hold someone who holds you back without words. Let them love you through your worst times. I sometimes grab both my dogs and throw them in the bed with me and my daughter during nap time, and just soak up the feeling of having us all together.
12. Read blogs, articles, and magazines about anxiety.
Find something to read that makes you understand that what you are dealing with is something that others are dealing with too. Find something to read that makes you realize you are not alone. Unfortunately, not a lot of people openly discuss the good, bad, and ugly of anxiety, and it leaves you feeling like there is something terribly wrong with you, and that you are the only one dealing with it. It is very isolating, scary, and upsetting to feel like there is something wrong with you that others don’t have to deal with. Instead of feeling that you are fighting something alone in your life I find that reading a blog, article, or magazine about anxiety reminds me that I am not alone and SO many people are dealing with this. Not only does it make you feel more normal, but I usually learn a few tips and tricks to help me.
13. Read books to give your mind a break.
Give your mind a break by escaping into a good book. I love reading book series and getting caught up in the characters lives. Books are a way for me to escape my reality and have a break. I enjoy living vicariously through the characters in my books.
14. Be aware of your triggers.
I know I wrote an entire blog post on this, but it is so important I have to mention it here again. Be aware of what triggers your anxiety. Set yourself up to be able to manage your anxiety by preparing ahead of time when you know you will encounter an unavoidable trigger (like driving, public speaking, traveling etc.). Also, know the triggers that make your anxiety worse. For example, I know that not having a plan for my day stresses me out, so I try to have a general outline of my day ahead of time.
*Click here for my earlier post. https://www.anxious-but-fabulous.com/anxious-but-fabulous/five-things-you-can-do-to-manage-your-anxiety-before-it-hits-you-by-knowing-your-triggers-and-preparing-ahead-of-time
15. Eat healthy low sugar/low caffeine diets.
This is an easy one ladies and gentleman, sugar and caffeine are stimulants and make your anxiety worse. Watching my sugar and caffeine intake have been the difference of an anxiety free day and a day full of anxiety. Watch your caffeine and sugar intake people!
16. Get outside and soak up some vitamin D.
First off, let me say that it is scientifically proven that being outside in nature increases brain function. This is the easiest thing you can do, get your fanny outside. Take that walk outside for your break at work, step out on your porch and enjoy the sunshine, go for a walk, sunbathe. Do whatever you can to build in pockets of time outside. Side benefit is that Vitamin D is amazing for you too, and it is better absorbed from the sun itself.
17. Plan a dream trip.
I know this may sound silly, but I can have some serious fun with this one. Always wanted to go to Bora-Bora? Then google hotels, look-up excursions, check out plane tickets, etc. Plan the trip and let your mind stay busy with something positive and fun. Throw that trip and your findings into a bucket list journal.
18. Give yourself YOU time.
Make yourself take a break. What is that you enjoy doing by yourself? Do you like to read books, then read a book? Do you enjoy baths, then take a bath. Do you enjoy sitting in your PJ’s on a Saturday morning watching Friends re-runs, then do that. Build in at least 30 minutes every day that you get to do exactly what you want to do. Relax and relish in this pocket of time that is just for YOU.
19. Set goals so you can focus on something exciting.
Setting goals gives you something to focus on, keeps your going when you don’t feel like you can anymore, and keeps you stay excited about your futures. Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation.
20. Go talk to a therapist or consider counseling.
If what you are doing is not working to manage your anxiety, get help! There is nothing wrong with this AT ALL. I remember when I would talk to my friends and family about my anxiety. I could see they didn’t understand it. It was so frustrating to feel so alone and misunderstood. Those who love me would tell me that I was normal, and that I would be okay. I remember thinking that of course they would say that, they love me and wouldn’t tell me I was totally going crazy. I needed to be validated by someone who did not know me and would be honest with me. I needed my therapist to tell me if what I was feeling was normal. I needed my therapist to tell me that I was going to be okay. Seek help if you need it!
I hope these tips help you, until next week my readers!
Hey all you awesome people reading my blog. I'm Ginger and this blog chronicles how I live my life fabulously with anxiety.