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ANXIETY TOOLBOX: TIPS FOR MANAGING ANXIETY AND PANIC

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I get so many emails and have so many conversations with people who suffer from anxiety but have no idea what to do about it. If one great thing comes from my daily anxiety and somewhat frequent panic attacks, it is that I might be able to help someone deal with anxiety in his or her own life.

So, I thought I would tap out anything and everything that helps me on anxious days (every day) and during panic attacks.

Read it over. Choose what you think might work for you. Give it a try. Tweak things to your liking. Store them away in your toolbox to use when needed. And, never forget that you can ask for help.

n labor. He believes in me and believes what I feel is real – because it is. Find yourself a Mike.

Stay Where You Are: Don’t try to drive home when you are in an elevated emotional state. It is dangerous. Get somewhere comfortable – heck a bathroom stall works sometimes. I also find pacing a bit helps too.

Observe: Ground yourself by making observations about the present. I feel the breeze. I smell… I hear…

Don’t Fight: When you are sure an attack is inevitable, just accept it. Fighting it only tells your body to keep panicking. Your goal is to convince your body that it is not actually in a panic situation. You are trying to turn off the panic switch. Let the attack happen, and practice the above tips to bring your body back to stasis.

AFTER AN ATTACK

Call in Backup: If you can swing it, have someone come take care of you and yours. I don’t need this after every attack anymore, but in the beginning and before I knew more about them (and sometimes after a particularly bad one still), I needed my mom to come take over. Even if it means she turns on the TV for the kids and feeds them granola bars while I take a nap.

Veg: If you don’t have anyone to help, please veg. Cancel whatever you can cancel, and take a mental health day. Going back at it when you don’t need to will just increase your already fragile stress level. Really decide what is necessary and what you just feel like you need to do.

Bare Minimum Mode: While you recover, go into bare minimum mode. This means no unnecessary housework or errands. No limit on TV. No worries about meals. Leftovers, sandwiches and carry-out are all acceptable and edible options.

SUPPLEMENTS AND OILS

Doterra Essential Oils: Serenity, Balance, Lavender, Wild Orange, Frankincense applied daily and during an attack.

Fish Oil: Take daily. I use Nature Made brand.

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Vitamin B Complex: Again, Nature Made taken daily.

MEDICATIONS

Zoloft: This is the most widely studied SSRI when it comes to pregnancy. Of course there are risks with anything you put in your body, but you have to decide if the benefits of the medication outweigh the potential risks. As my doctor explained to me, Zoloft does present a risk for heart problems in your baby, however, the risk factor is no larger than a child who has not been exposed to the medication. Your child has the same risk whether or not you take it.

Xanax: (not during pregnancy or nursing) This was very helpful to me in the beginning of understanding my attacks. I didn’t have the information I have now to work through my anxiety, so Xanax was a great way to get a hold of myself until I could understand. I haven’t used it in years now, but I still carry an expired bottle in my purse. I suppose just knowing it is there is calming?

PRAYERS

St. Dymphna: My favorite Saint is the patron of those suffering from nervous and mental afflictions. “Hear us, O God, Our Savior, as we honor St. Dymphna, patron of those afflicted with mental and emotional illness.” I keepher chaplet in my purse as well.

Rosary: When I am feeling well, I can pray one, but sometimes I am too anxious to concentrate. But clutching a rosary even when you can’t pray it is like hugging your mamma.

Daily Mass: We don’t go daily, but I do try to make it to weekday Mass a couple of times a week. You might think this would cause more anxiety with the kids, but God seems to be blessing my efforts. Besides, isn’t church just the safest and most calming place to be?

FOODS THAT HELP ANXIETY:

blueberries, fatty fish, legumes, peaches, maca root (not during pregnancy or nursing), acai berries, bananas, flax seeds, 100% whole grains, chamomile tea, kefir, almonds, leafy greens (spinach, kale, seaweed)

Try mixing lots of these things in smoothies each morning. And remember, just eating well in general is so beneficial.

KEEP LIVING YOUR LIFE:

It might seem like sometimes the only thing you do is treat prevent and maintain your anxiety levels. I still feel that way. Often, I just want a cup of coffee and some cheesecake while I stay up until 2am after not taking any pills. Or, on the other end of the spectrum, I find myself wanting to just give up trying. It’s too much effort.

But, when you start to shut down, when you start to avoid parts of life because of anxiety, it is already winning. Don’t let a fear turn into a phobia. Find out how to manage your anxiety in the midst of life. Don’t avoid life because of anxiety.

Consider creating a flexible weekly schedule for yourself. Pick one simple, free and relaxing activity to do by yourself or with kids each day. Getting out of the house works wonders for maintaining anxiety levels. Just remember to make time for what you’re going to do. With kids, nothing can be calm and rushed at the same time. Find joy in the process because when you dwell on what else you could be doing, anxiety rises.

Finally, make an effort to limit social media. Even if you don’t think it causes stress in your life, I will guarantee it does. Make a commitment to do more living outside of the Internet. Be present in your life.

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