Monday, October 9, 2017

Six Ways I'm Dealing With My Anxiety Naturally

My mind is a little all over the place today with this post so I'm not even really sure where it will all end up.  I want to talk a little bit today about anxiety and how I'm dealing with it naturally.

Anxiety isn't something that has been really prominent in my life. I've dealt with stress and maybe what you could claim as anxiety in a pretty mild form throughout my life and it's always something that I've been able to work through with running or taking a nice bath or writing things down, until recently.  Since April I've been dealing with a whole other kind of anxiety (maybe level of anxiety?) than I've ever had to deal with before.

Let me start out by telling you about when I first started noticing these little anxiety attacks.  I picked J up from school one day and she and M begged to go see my Grandma Ann.  It wasn't in our plan but after several minutes of them asking and begging and saying "it's been so long since we've been over" I told them we could go. V had already taken a nap early that day and I knew Trevon was going to have a long day at work so it would be nice to have an adult to visit with for a while. We visited for 2 hours. And I'm so thankful that my girls insisted on seeing her.

Long story short, the next day I got a frantic call from my sister, my very healthy, spunky grandma took a bad fall down the stairs and was in the hospital. She didn't make it.

I can't say that this specifically caused my anxiety, I had a lot of other things going on at that time too. But I think that the shock that it had on my mind and my body was kind of a breaking point for me.  I didn't sleep at all the first few nights. I would doze off and wake up in a panic every few minutes. I think that's probably really common for events like this. And after the funeral and having a little girls night I felt that things would be ok, they would go back to normal. But for the next several months I would wake up randomly with this same panicked feeling, like a huge adrenaline rush. I couldn't figure out why. It took months for it to occur to me that it could be anxiety. 

I talked to my cousin who has had anxiety for a few years and she said it sounded the same to her.  I didn't get it diagnosed by a doctor. I didn't want to go to a doctor. I didn't want to be put on medication. I wanted to deal with this naturally and not risk messing up my hormones (been there, done that, wasn't fun).  And, I felt like even though this was the worst anxiety I've ever dealt with it was still a pretty mild case. I felt like I knew that the root of the problem was mostly coming to terms with my grandma's death.  She had a huge part in my life!  So I decided to start researching ways to deal with anxiety and see what fit in with my life and what I could do.

Before I continue, please remember that I'm not a doctor or a specialist and I'm sharing things that worked FOR ME so far.  If anxiety is something you deal with, and if it's more severe than what I'm dealing with, it would be a good idea to get an opinion from a doctor. All that being said, here are 6 ways that have helped me deal with anxiety.

  • The first thing that seemed the most obvious was to work through all of this with a run. And I do a little of that, but something interesting happened and I'm not sure if it's because the weather is changing (the most probable reason) or if it has something to do with the anxiety, but my drive to run went down a lot in the last week or so. Running still can be a huge stress relief, for me, this kind of stress relief comes from an evening run when I can reflect on what has been bothering me throughout the day and use that run to work my way through the problem.  When I'm struggling with stresses in my life or when I have a lot on my mind, running in the evening seems to be the best time for me to clear my head.  It's a time for me to have some quiet time alone that I can pray and ponder and come up with some solutions to whatever I need at the time. 

  • Remind myself that I can't control what happens, I can control how I react to what happens and what I do with it.  This has always been something that I believe. I can't control the things that happened to me in my past. I can't change anything about them. I can't control that my grandma died, I can't control that my kids have a hard day, I can't control the weather etc, but I can control that I can learn from the past and remember it and change my life for the better. I can control that I remember my grandma and follow her example in life. I can control that I treat my kids with patience and kindness and help them feel better about whatever is going wrong in their day. I can control that I dress appropriately for the weather. Then, I do what I can to make the best out of bad situations that would make me panic or feel stressed.
  • Controlled breathing is a big way that naturally helps you calm down in an anxiety attack. You usually hear people say "take deep breaths" but taking deep breaths isn't really what helps. Controlling your breathing is what helps you. (I don't have any scientific proof for you here, but I think that one of the reasons that this helps you is because not only does it help your brain get oxygen and your heart calm down, but being able and aware of controlling something when you're going through anxiety helps you feel a litte safer. ) I like to take a long breath in for 4 seconds, hold it for two, and then let it out for 4 seconds. I do this until I can feel my body start to calm down and my mind starts to come back to the real world.
  • One of the best ways to avoid anxiety is to figure out what your triggers are. One of my big triggers is thinking about my grandma dying (as you've noticed by now). Not the fact that she died, but actually imagining what it would have been like to be in that room. It sounds morbid, I know, and I don't do it on purpose. It's part of me having a vivid imagination and this kind of thing has happened to me in the past.  But when I catch myself thinking about that, I do something to distract my thinking.  Singing the ABC's backward, talking to someone you trust or someone who understands, turning on a podcast, audiobook, or anything else that takes more thinking and concentration, anything to distract my mind at that moment can help me reset myself.
  • Finding something tangible that you can explain to others as if they were blind and had never seen it before. "I feel my sheets. They are soft and warm. They smell clean. They are heavy." I like using playdough for this the most and I always have. Not only can you feel it and explain it but working with your hands helps a lot too, to take your mind off of things."I feel this playdough. It's squishy and soft. It fits in my hand. The playdough is pink. I can shape it into whatever I want it to be." Those kinds of things also help you focus on something besides the problem and it helps you come back to the real world.
  • Talk about it.  One of the biggest things that have helped me in dealing with anxiety was admitting that I might have a problem and talking to someone who knew something about it.  That person may be a therapist or doctor. It could be a family member or friend. It could anyone that you feel safe with and have confidence in. Someone who you know will not take advantage of the situation, someone who is not biased if the anxiety is coming from the way another person is treating you. (You wouldn't go talk to a friend's mom about all the problems your friend is giving you because the mom is definitely going to side with their child).  

These are the things that help me feel safe and calm again after having a problem with anxiety. It comes and goes and I'm lucky to have a husband who will sit and listen to me cry or rant about whatever is bothering me so that I don't have to keep it bottled up. I'm lucky enough to have friends and cousins who understand what it's like and who are willing to help me when I need advice. And I'm lucky to have running to help me channel my feelings into something positive and give me the confidence and courage I need to solve my problems. Find what works for you! 

Have you ever dealt with anxiety before?

What are your favorite ways to relieve stress when you feel like its weighing you down?


  1. Ways that help me deal with anxiety are getting enmeshed in a good book, taking walks, or taking photos.

    1. Those are all really great ways!! I’ve always loved photography. Thanks for reading. I hope you’re having a great day Jeremy

  2. I have dealt with anxiety for a number of years and I think your list is a great one. I am sorry to hear about your grandmother passing - it is so hard to lose those we have such beautiful relationships with. You mentioned that you did not sleep well - I feel like for me that is a huge reason my anxiety will take me over the edge some days and I have a full on panic attack. Sleep is not always easy to come by for me as my brain seems to go 100 miles a minute. I have recently started something called "brain drain" - before bed I will write down (or say out loud) anything and everything that comes to mind. This seems to help my mind be calm and I can get to sleep in 10 minutes whereas before it took me hours each night. I hope you continue to find things that will help you feel more calm and peace.

    1. Oh you’re so sweet! Thank you for sharing that with me. I’m going to try that when I have stressful days and see if that helps me sleep better. Sleep really does affect it in a huge way. Thank you for reading!