My Go-To Strategies for Managing Anxiety
When it comes to managing my anxiety, there are a few tricks I’ve tried over the years that have become reliable tools in my toolbox. For those of you who are learning to cope with your mental health or if you’re looking to learn more, I wanted to share my strategies with you!
Yes. That’s right I’m taking an anti-anxiety medication every day. I know there can still be a stigma for some around taking medication. I’ve heard the comments about being on medication for the rest of my life and, frankly, that question is in direct opposition to how I approach life. Managing anxiety and growing is about taking like one day at a time. Today, it works for me. Tomorrow might be different. I don’t know what my life will look like in 5 years so I can’t answer the “rest of my life” questions. What I know today is that I am happier and emotionally stable because my brain is regulated.
Exercise – 30 minutes
This is a practice. My body, my brain, and my stress levels all benefit from my choice to stay active and get my heart rate up for 30 minutes 5 days a week. This takes multiple forms for me: run/walk, yoga, weight lifting, walking with a friend, and more. The important part is that I get my body moving! Reminder: I am not perfect. This doesn’t always happen like clockwork, but it is a staple in my go-to list of anxiety-reducing strategies. Frankly, this one often comes down to a very honest internal dialogue: do I want to get off my bed and go exercise for a bit or do I want to feel sluggish and defeated tomorrow? The former typically wins.
People often try to dismiss meditation as something that you have to master before it really works. Far from true. Meditation is focused breath. 10 minutes of meditation radically changes my mindset, lowers anxiety, and reduces stress. It’s so easy to think about taking deep breaths when we’re feeling a moment of panic or overwhelm. Our minds narrow the focus and the source of our anxiety only becomes a greater weight. Our breath is shortened and fear gets loud. When we can take a moment for ourselves, take deep breaths (in to the count of 4 and out to the count of 5), we can release a bit of fear. A daily practice of meditation can reduce feelings of anxiety, depression, worry, sadness and more.
Cut down on coffee
If you’re already on anti-anxiety meds, you’re probably well aware that coffee is a no-no. The caffeine works directly against what the medication is working to calm. I’m not a coffee fan to begin with, but coffee is sometimes a last resort when sleep isn’t happening. When I’m having days of increased anxiety levels or i find myself wondering why I’m feeling so panicked, my go-to question is “how much coffee have I had lately?” and I step into a reality check. Coffee is a last resort – not a sustainable, healthy habit.
Before I launch into talking about nutrition like I’m some kid of expert, let me say loud and clear… I am not! I am not perfect with my nutrition, I tend to be more motivated by how quickly I’ll have food than by the quality, and I hate grocery shopping. That being said, I do know the difference in my overall well-being when I eat junk vs. when I’m keeping things pretty clean.
As you can see from this list, managing anxiety is really about the lifestyle I choose to live. If my habits are reflecting self-care and self-love, my anxiety is diminished. When I fall out of these habits, I feel the effects physically and emotionally. This is about taking it one day at a time with the understanding that how Im choosing to live today is directly benefitting my long-term game. Shifting your anxiety doesn’t have to be complex; all it really takes is an understanding of what works for you and putting that into practice!