People suffer from various kinds of anxiety, and it often gets unbearable around holidays or special occasions. I used to be one of those individuals. When anxiety seized my mind, I felt the creepy-crawly rush of heat enveloping my body, buckling my knees to the point I felt like I would pass out. All I could do was get out of where I was or find the nearest chair to sit down. When caught in the throes of anxiety, it is hard to think and know what to do. I felt shame at not measuring up. It helped me to examine my feelings. It may help you to examine yours. Don’t try to talk yourself out of what you are feeling. On the contrary, give yourself lots of permission to feel. In this blog, we will explore ways to reduce anxiety naturally.
Look at your eating habits. Do you drink a lot of caffeine products, such as coffee or soda? If yes, cut back on them? I was a sugar addict and didn’t even know it until confronted by a healthier friend on a low-sugar diet. Sugar may calm anxiety momentarily, but then it sends your body into orbit.
Do you smoke cigarettes? Nicotine is addictive, and its side effects of it are dangerous for your heart, hormones, and gastrointestinal system. Once addicted, it creates restlessness and anxiety that requires more nicotine. The cravings can be intolerable.
Are you getting enough exercise? Research shows that a daily exercise routine and doing something you love reduces pressure. Walking, running, dancing and weightlifting are all ways to reduce stress, especially if you give yourself positive messages while you are doing them. Too many of us are good at putting ourselves down because of negative early family messages.
On the other hand, being complimented so much by well-meaning parents may have caused a subconscious fear of messing up and letting them down. How hard do you work? Are you a workaholic? Or do you not work at all because of fear of failure?
Are you able to sleep, or do you let yourself worry and think all night? There are ways to take care of an overactive mind. One way is to pray. Reciting a favorite Bible verse will shut out nagging thoughts because your mind can only handle one idea at a time. Or you could concentrate on your breathing. Andrew Weil MD is a master of breathing techniques, and you can find his videos on YouTube. They’ve been extremely helpful to me.
What kind of messages are you telling yourself? The way you talk to yourself can increase anxiety tenfold. Negative self-talk is destructive and can keep you in a constant state of anxiety. To combat the negative messages you give yourself, you must change the negative into a positive. Say something positive about yourself five times each time a negative thought comes up.
Here is an example: if you look in the mirror and say, “I look terrible.” Overcome that by saying five times in a row, “I look great, I am beautiful (handsome). I am better looking today than I was yesterday.” For best results, do this often. When someone asks you how you are, say, “I get better every day.” Whatever you tell yourself is true. If you say you can’t do something, then you can’t. If you say you’re not good enough, you will prove that you are not good enough. If you say you don’t like something, you won’t like it even if you never tried it.
Do you journal? Writing everything down is a positive way to put things into perspective. Journal every day, hold nothing back. Don’t worry about spelling or making sense as no one is going to read this except you. Do not read what you have written for several weeks. When you read it, you will see a predominant theme that will guide you in decision-making. Many people avoid writing because it is “too much work.” If this is you, you could dictate into the notes app on your smartphone.
Have you or do you often feel that you are crazy? If you are reading this, you are not crazy, and in fact, probably everything you think is normal and felt by hundreds of other people.
Do you have a spiritual component in your life? If so, what do you do to honor it? Everyone must have someone or something in their life that they can look up to. If you don’t know God, perhaps now is the time to explore who He is and what He stands for.
Have you tried meditation or yoga to calm yourself and relax? Meditation and yoga are widely accepted as excellent ways to combat anxiety. Are you suffering from shame or guilt passed on from parents or others? If so, how long do you want to carry it? Have you sought counseling or spiritual direction from someone you trust? Is misery a companion that you are willing to give up? Are you ready to do whatever it takes to find peace of mind?
Some people have used anxiety as a crutch for many years; giving it up involves facing your reasons for keeping it. Just like leaving an abusive relationship opens one up to a whole new world, so can leaving your anxiety. Are you willing? Are you tired of being controlled by it? Only you can answer these questions. Help is available through many of the modalities mentioned above. Create a plan for how you will deal with your anxiety and stick to it.
Evelyn Leite has had a successful, 35-year career as a professional counselor and author, focusing on drug and alcohol problems and mental health issues. Among her best-known works besides the “Blood, Sex and Tears” series are Women: What Do We Want? and A Fix for the Family Rift Caused by Addiction.” She’s a 2008 inductee in the South Dakota Hall of Fame. She can be reached at https://www.EvelynLeite.com. This article is also available at https://www.SusanUNeal.com.