Anxiety can be such a beast.
It ruins good days and makes bad days feel impossible. The hardest part about it, is how little others understand unless they have experienced it. Here are some things people without anxiety like to tell people with anxiety:
Just tell yourself things are fine
Count your blessings.
Things could be worse.
Let go of control.
You should see a counselor.
Have you tried vitamin D lights?
You need medicine.
These aren’t always wrong things to say, but they don’t help much when you feel like you are crawling out of your skin right at that moment. Many people confuse depression with anxiety and that one really gets me. I will even get asked,
“Do you want to hurt yourself?”
Um. No. I want the exact opposite. I want to be as far from dead or hurt as possible. That is why I am anxious.
I have dealt with anxiety since December 31st, 2004. Before that, I didn’t know it existed. Yes I have had fearful moments, but nothing like this evil debilitating anxiety that makes me feel like I’m being chased by wolves. I wouldn’t wish it on my very worst enemy. It steals so many good moments and rains on every parade. Since I do know how awful it is, I feel I can share some ideas that might help. There might not be one solution. There might be a lot of little things you can do that will add up enough to help. Ok, here it goes:
1. Hot showers
For some reason this helps me sometimes. I have been known to take three showers in one day. I don’t look at it as a cleaning session, I look at it as therapy. Hot water is soothing, and for those few moments, I don’t let myself worry. I just stand there, and let the water pelt me while I think of nothing. I may or may not shave my legs just so I feel a tad bit productive.
I recently saw a new naturopath. I told him I needed serious and for- real help with anxiety. I explained I suffer from fear regarding my health. I told him I wasn’t kidding, and that if he ever told me I had to have surgery, the doctors would have to use a scope and a tranquilizer gun and hunt me down and drag me in like a wild animal. I think that painted a true picture of how I felt, and he looked convinced. He told me about lavender pills that have been clinically tested against anti-depressants and anti anxiety pharmaceutical drugs, including placebo, and came out ahead. He said he is very encouraged by these pills and they are all natural, and inexpensive. I’m not a doctor and can’t promise they’ll take away your anxiety, but I would say they diminished my own anxiety by about 40%.
3. Biofeedback and Neurophysiological treatment
Ok, this isn’t a little suggestion. This is more of a big one, but I saw a lot of progress. I used to have a terrible fear of flying. It was so bad I would vomit and have to run to the bathroom nonstop for two days before a flight. I was a mess the whole time in the air, and by the time I landed I was covered in sweat. I finally found the experience so terrible, I just stopped flying for years. I missed so many amazing things because of this. I started going to biofeedback, and clearly had amazing results. I now walk onto airplanes like a boss and fly to places like England and Hawaii. Turbulence? I couldn’t care less. If you knew me, you would know how shocking that is. Here is where I go for treatment. Maybe you could call their office and get a referral for a provider near you. It’s pretty complex, but takes little effort on your part. You just sit there and they fix you.
Walking sounds so cliche, but it helps! The fresh air, the sound of crunching gravel, the feeling of leaving your problems behind you. Moving forward feels good. Walk with your kids, or alone, or with friends. Listen to an audio book, podcast, or music. Even twenty minutes will help.
Rest is crucial. Get yourself cozy sometimes and read, drink tea and exhale. Do things that calm you. Make yourself relax. Cut out anything you don’t need to be doing. I know this is much harder when you have older kids, but try to find times to unwind. I like to sit on my swing in the yard and read. Even twenty minutes can do the trick.
6. Stop eating sugar
This is important. Refined sugars make us feel a billion times worse. There are so many resources these days to help you transition to whole foods. When I fall off the wagon and consume sugar (or wheat) I feel miserable for a couple of days. It is never worth it. Of course our diet has to affect how we feel. The nice thing about this is you don’t have to learn anything, or research. Just don’t put sugar in your mouth. Its easier to not to do something, than to do something, right?!
Don’t skip this because it sounds cliche. I forget how important this is. Don’t pray so you can be free from fear. Pray because God is your Father and when you are struggling, you need to go to Him. Talk to Him honestly and ask Him to walk with you in this battle. Pray in the shower. While you walk. While you rest. Take one or two minutes or pray as you fall asleep. Do you get negative feedback from family members when you try to explain how anxious you feel? Hurt feelings? Feel misunderstood? This is why bringing our cares to God, and letting Him handle all the pain, is the best way.
There you go. Seven concrete ways that might help lower your anxiety. Try them out and let me know how it goes. I am not anxiety free, but I have stretches of time when I can barely recall what anxiety feels like, and I never, ever, take those days for granted.