The anxiety struggle is real and more of us than we even know are dealing with it. While anxiety is something I've dealt with most of my life, it seems like just now it is starting to get more mainstream to talk about and admit to. I'm so glad that conversations are happening around mental health, giving us the ability to say I struggle with that too and it's okay. It's funny, I have found once I started opening up about my own anxiety, the conversations I've had with friends and strangers about their own experiences have been amazing and impactful. We can open up to each other, be vulnerable and offer support and throw perfection out the window.
I've worked hard on managing my own anxiety the last several years and in turn am passionate about helping others in this area. Many of my clients deal with anxiety and while we can't always "fix" anxiety, we can develop a toolkit to help manage the process and lessen the impact. I work with clients and in my own life on customizing a toolkit that works when you start to feel that anxious feeling come on. Maybe it's centered around work stress, family issues or maybe it's that anxiety where nothing is really wrong, but you still experience worry. Through any of those feelings I've found that if I can identify habits, resources and practices early on, it lessens the impact and helps me get out of the funk.
My anxiety toolkit includes the following. Some of these may work for you and others may not be your cup of tea, but hopefully it will encourage to start pulling your own toolkit together. If you need any support in this area I would love to chat and connect.
My Anxiety Toolkit:
- Prayer & Spiritual Connection - #1 my faith has the biggest help in my life in getting through anxious times. I tell my worries to God, ask for His strength and comfort, sing to Christian music, read helpful passages, etc. Finding a strong church community has also been a huge help. The below Bible verse has been a recent find and I reflect on it often. Whatever your faith or spirituality is, connecting with that is key and provides a ton of inner peace.
- Exercise - No surprise here... exercising releases endorphins and provides an instant mood, happiness and energy boost. There's a reason people go run to clear their brains. Personally, I love long walks when I'm feeling stressed. I also love to jump into a yoga class and take an hour to let my brain relax and focus on the movements. Find an exercise that you love, get out into nature if possible and move.
- A Cup of Tea & A Good Book - I love cuddling up and getting lost in a good book. It's something I don't do enough of and when I do I realize how comforting it is. Once again it's a great distraction for our brains away from anxiety. For a list of some of my favorite books check out my wellness library.
- Sleep - This can be the first thing to go when you're anxious which just leads you to be more anxious! I make sure and rest when I need it. If I need a nap, that's okay. I don't feel any guilt or shame about taking care of my body and my mind. Sleep and heal.
- Focus on Gratitude - Try to turn your focus from all of the worries to everything you're thankful for. List them off first thing in the morning. As you go about the day notice the beautiful sky, your cute pup's smile, etc and give thanks for them. Once you get in the habit you'll notice how much easier it is to find joy rather than focus on negativity.
- Plan Something Fun - Date night, meet a friend for coffee, etc. Have something to look forward to that get's you out of the house. Get ready, dress cute (even if you really have to force it) and go out and enjoy yourself.
- Acupuncture - This is a recent addition for me and I'm really liking it. I am committing to being consistent with it and will share details when I have more time under my belt. So far it's proving to be very relaxing and calming. For those local, I am going to Pin & Tonic (a community acupuncture lounge). It's affordable and I've enjoyed all of the practitioners I've had.
- Meditation & Breathing Techniques - When anxiety or stress comes on, our stress hormone, cortisol, rises and our breathing becomes shallow and quick. Work to slow down your breath and take deep breaths into the belly. One of my favorite breathing exercises is from Dr. Weil, 4-7-8 breathing. You can learn more about that and how to do it here.
- Extra Self-Care - Take that bath, schedule a manicure, etc. Do some extra little things for yourself for self-love. We tend to feel ashamed of anxiety (believe me I do too), and what a great time to give ourselves grace and extra care.
If you're struggling with anxiety, know that you aren't alone. Take time to give yourself grace and love. I hope these ideas help and I would love to hear what's in your anxiety tool kit!