Ever feel light headed, sick to your stomach, chest tightened and like you might just pass out or die?
Or have irrational fears like you’re kids going to die in their sleep or you might drive off the road and crash?
I’m assuming if you are reading this then you most likely have experienced some or all of those feelings or thoughts and perhaps, you are quite close friends with anxiety. I know, I am.
I’ve struggled with anxiety for my entire life and while there can be a lot of shame or hesitation to talk about it in today’s world, I am quite comfortable being open and honest about my struggle.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned that there are so many people that actually struggle with anxiety that I would have never expected. These people often seem extremely outgoing, confident, and like they really have their shit together, but once I really get to know them I realize we are more alike than I could have ever imagined. I find that it can be so comforting to share and connect with others about our struggles so we can feel a little less alone on this journey.
There is definitely a spectrum and range of anxiety and it can look very different for each person. I always recommend speaking with a doctor or therapist if you struggle with anxiety, but there are some tips and techniques I’ve learned over the years to help me cope just a little better and I’m hoping they could possibly help you too.
Before we get into my best tips for coping with anxiety, I want you to know that the most important thing you can do is to focus on prevention. This means setting yourself up for success by creating rhythms, routines, and self-care practices that you do daily in order to prevent the anxiety from coming. Of course, it may still creep up, but I’ve found that by putting practices in my daily routine I’ve really noticed that my anxiety is less and less. I’ve also noticed that when I start to let go of my routine or get really busy, my anxiety intensifies. So feel free to take some of the tips below and add them to your daily routine and watch how it can transform your anxiety.
10 Tips for Overwhelmed Moms to Cope With Anxiety
Gratitude - Although it’s become kind of trendy to have a gratitude practice, it really is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your mental health. I start and end every single day focusing on things I’m grateful for. I also try to take moments during the day where I pause and think of how blessed I am for this moment. The more you practice gratitude the more it will help your mind look for things to be grateful for. If you are anything like me you may have a lot of negative thoughts swirling in your head throughout the day so it can really be a challenge to focus on the positives, but by being intentional and making it a daily practice it gets easier and easier.
Meditation & Deep Breathing - You may be rolling your eyes or thinking “yeah, yeah, I know I should meditate, but I’m just not good at it and it won’t work for me.” I used to have these same thoughts, but let me tell you, it is life changing. Having a daily meditation practice can really ground you and studies have shown that it can improve anxiety, depression, and insomnia. When you are really in it and feeling anxious, deep breathing exercises can be a life saver. You can try box breathing where you inhale for a count of 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds, exhale for 5 seconds, hold for 5 seconds and keep repeating until you feel a little more calm. This is also a great practice when you are nervous for something or just before you eat to make sure you are eating in a calm state.
Essential Oils - There are some amazing essential oils that I use every day to help cope with anxiety. I love to use lavender, valor, or stress away on my wrist and behind my ear each day. I pretty much always carry around a roller bottle and any time I start to feel a little anxious I put it on. You can also diffuse them in your house or car and it really helps to create a calm environment.
A Plant-Based Diet - Since switching to eating a mostly plant-based diet, I’ve noticed that my anxiety has dramatically decreased. I’ve also noticed that when I start to eat more processed or high sugar foods my anxiety gets worse. Eating a healthy, balanced diet can really improve your mood and how you feel every day. Read this for additional tips on what foods to eat for stress and anxiety.
Movement - It’s so important and beneficial to get your blood flowing by moving your body. It doesn’t have to be an intense workout, but simply going for a walk or doing some yoga can really help relieve muscle tension and stress from your body. A lot of times when we are feeling anxious we may not feel like moving our bodies, but as soon as we do we often feel the release dramatically.
Warm Beverages - For me, warm beverages in the morning or at night are extremely relaxing and comforting. I find it is a great way to create a ritual that always brings you into the present moment and allows you to come back to a peaceful state. A few of my goto anxiety reducing beverages are Natural Calm, Cup of Calm Tea, or Reishi Hot Cocoa.
Talk It Out or Journal - I am definitely a verbal processor and find that when I am feeling anxious it is beneficial for me to talk it out with someone. Even if I am feeling anxious and have no clue why, I find it helpful to simply call it out and share with someone that I am feeling anxious. It seems to lessen the feeling a bit and helps to know that I’m not alone. Another great practice is to journal it out. Perhaps you have no idea why you are feeling anxious, but you can just journal about how your body is feeling in the moment. By simply awareness to it it can help diminish the feelings or help to prevent it from getting worse.
Feel the Feelings - It’s so easy for us to just want to ignore our anxiety and push away our feelings, but I’ve found that this only intensifies and makes things worse. I’ve spent years ignoring my feelings or numbing out with food or tv and it only creates worse anxiety for me. It eventually gets to a point where I’m having panic attacks for no reason and I truly believe this is from suppressing my feelings for so long. So feel the feelings. Stop and notice how you feel. Breathe and accept it. Talk or journal it out. Practice mindfulness and don’t just try to keep on going and ignoring it.
CBD oil - So CBD has been all the rage lately and people are seriously loving it. While I don’t think it’s this completely miracle as people are making it out to be, I do find that it has been beneficial for my anxiety. When I take it consistently twice a day I find that I am able to sleep better and feel more calm throughout the day. I definitely recommend giving it a try and trying different brands to see what works best for you.
Therapy & Prescription MedicationWhile I haven’t really committed to therapy for treating my anxiety, I do believe it can be extremely beneficial and think everyone should give it a shot. On the other hand, I have tried prescription medication and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’ve tried medication that I had to take daily and while I found it beneficial and necessary at the time, I knew I didn’t want to rely on it for the rest of my life so I was able to transition off of them. Now, when all else fails, I take Xanax on an as needed basis. Because I practice all of the tips above, I rarely need it, but I also have no shame about taking it. I love all things holistic health and don’t love putting toxic chemicals in my body. But you know what, I also love peace and my sanity even more. If I’m driving on the turnpike and suddenly feel panic and dizziness creep up, you can bet I’m going to take a Xanax so I can get home safely. If you think you could benefit from taking medication, talk to your doctor and release any shame you may associate with it. And if you are totally against medication then good for you - DO YOU!
At the end of the day, if you struggle with severe anxiety you need to prioritize taking care of yourself and do what works best for you. Perhaps you need to do less and get more help. Try some of the tips above. Experiment and see what works. Consult a doctor or therapist. Get help from a health coach (like me) to help you start incorporating some healthy habits that actually last.
Now tell me, how do you cope with anxiety? Please share any tips I may have left out! I am always looking to add to my toolkit.