[Welcome to the Overcome Your Anxiety Series! Today we are exploring Jamie’s favorite tools for managing your anxiety and stress. This is the final post in a 4-part series that will help you identify how stress and anxiety show up in your body, how you can truly tune in, as well as what you can do to calm and heal yourself when it does.]
So can I be real with your for a moment?
As someone who personally has had a long history with severe anxiety, I know firsthand how much it really sucks..
That feeling in the pit of your stomach. The racing thoughts. The sleepless nights. That feeling that you can’t move fast enough.
Health and wellness professionals are certainly not immune to feeling stressed out and overwhelmed.
And not having the right coping skills or tools to manage it when it you feel it coming on can make it even worse.
As we have discussed in Parts 1-3 of this series, the first step towards managing your anxiety is to develop a strong internal awareness of your body and how it reacts to stress. It also means being aware of your thinking patterns and how they make you feel, as well as how you interact with people around you, especially in a time of collective stress (such as the pandemic).
Once you have a clear understanding of your own internal world and how you react to the external world, it is a lot easier to implement tools to manage the stress and anxiety when you feel it bubbling up.
I believe we need to take 2 approaches to managing our anxiety:
- Daily Practice For Anxiety – identifying the tools you can use daily to stay healthy and manage stress
- Tools for Anxiety in the Moment – these are the things you can do in the moments of intense anxiety or stress
So let’s start with Daily Practices:
I believe that a daily self-care routine is essential for managing and preventing symptoms of anxiety. I have found evidence for this both professionally and personally. Think of it like a medical condition, such as diabetes – a person takes daily medication to manage their insulin and stay healthy, but they also have protocols in place in case of an emergency.
I think it is very similar mindset when managing symptoms of anxiety. We need to have a daily protocol in place that keeps our system balanced and in check, but then we also need to have practices to turn to in the moment that we feel our anxiety getting out of control.
Daily self-care looks different for everyone, this is certainly not a one-size fits all approach. For some, it is ensuring quiet time and prayer. For others, daily exercise is a must. And I have found that for most people, being mindful of their nutrition is a key strategy in keeping their anxiety at bay (i.e. limiting caffeine intake, being mindful of the amount of sugar they are eating, etc.).
I believe that intuitive self-care is the best way to approach being well. It allows us to tune in to what our body is telling us in the moment and then respond appropriately. By practicing intuitive self-care, we are able to ebb and flow with our energy levels and how we are feeling each day. We are able to select activities or tools from our pre-made toolbox that we know help alleviate stress. Even thought we are maintaining a daily practice, this approach ensures it feels less forced, less rigid. Because I find that when we are too rigid with self-care or try to force ourselves to do self-care activities that don’t fit our needs that day, it is easier to get frustrated and give up.
If you are new to intuitive self-care, or are familiar with the concept but love the idea of having a guide to help you master the art of intuitive self-care, check out my free guide HERE. This has everything you need to get started.
Next, let’s talk about tools for anxiety in the moment.
There are SO many different tools that you can use when you are feeling anxious, I think it just really depends on where you are located (i.e. at home, at work, in the car). So, I am going to provide you with some basic tools you can use to calm yourself when you are feeling anxiety symptoms come up that can pretty much apply to wherever you are in that moment:
- Breathe. I can’t emphasize enough how helpful it is to check your breath when you are anxious. When we are anxious, we often start breathing very shallow, which causes more panic and stress. So by slowing down the breath, we are immediately shutting off that stress response in the body and helping the body return to a balanced, neutral state. I recommend keeping it simple, even 1 minute can make a huge difference. Check out this post to get a simple breath practice you can do when you feel anxious.
- Essential oils. Switching on your diffuser when you are feeling anxious can be a powerful way to help calm your body. I personally love doTERRA’s Lavender or Breathe blends. They come in oils or as rollers that you can use on your wrists or head. Taking a moment to breathe and tune into your senses can redirect your awareness from the anxious thoughts and feelings. Check out this article for more on Essential Oils and how you can incorporate them into your daily life.
- Go for a walk. Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from a situation. Take a moment, collect yourself, get the nervous energy out, and then come back to the person or situation that is causing you distress. There is nothing wrong with pausing and allowing yourself some time to ground yourself before continuing forward. This is actually very empowering and will help you feel more in control of your own emotions and reactions.
What are some of your favorite tools for managing stress and anxiety? Hop on over to the Mind-Body-Spirit Balancers Facebook group and join in on the conversation – we would love to hear from you!