by Becca C. Smith
Anxiety. Everyone has it to a certain degree, some more than others. I’ve struggled with it my entire life. From panic attacks to digestive issues, anxiety is something I deal with on a daily basis.
Over the years I’ve discovered some tricks that help me manage my stress. It took a long time to figure out and I still have what I call “surges” everyday (fight or flight: that feeling that you can’t breathe), but I now know how to stop them in their tracks. Or at least slow them down long enough for me to calm myself.
The first three steps are for stopping a panic attack.
1. Five Count Breathing.
This is an easy way to break out of the terror of feeling like you can’t breathe. When I’m having an attack, I literally feel like I’m dying. It’s as if I’m not getting enough oxygen and I’m going to pass out and die right there. Logically, I know this isn’t true, but in the moment, my brain doesn’t listen to my head :-)
Five count breathing is when you breathe in for five seconds, hold it for five, release the breath for five, then hold it for another five. Repeat this as long as it takes until you can breathe normally again. Trust me, I’ve had to do the five count technique for a full half hour sometimes. So, don’t stress if it doesn’t work right away.
2. Heating pad.
This technique is my best friend. I try to stay away from electric heating pads, only because I don’t want to leave the heat on for more than a half hour. Whenever I feel even the slightest feeling that I’m about to have a panic attack, I heat up my neck warmer and place it on my chest. I use the neck warmer because it slowly loses its heat in about a half hour, which is the perfect length of time for me.
This feeds into the fight or flight. You’re essentially using the “flight” part of the equation. I usually use both the five count breathing and walking techniques together. You don’t have to go outside for a walk, pacing around your house works just fine as well. It helps jolt you out of your head. You can even try another breathing technique where you say a word in your head every time you breathe in and out, such as, when you breathe in you say the word, “heal” and when you breathe out you say the word, “calm.” This helps me quiet down the rowdy party going on in my brain and/or the thoughts of utter doom :-)
For long term stress and anxiety relief, I do the following:
4. Drink lots of tea.
This has become a must for me. It has not only helped my anxiety, but my digestion as well. You’ll find that most teas used for digestion issues are also used to calm your body as well.
I use Fennel seed tea, chamomile and Yogi’s Honey Lavender Stress Relief. Rotating between these teas every day has changed my life!
I started taking Magnesium because I have mitral valve prolapse and the metals help keep my heart beating properly. But, Magnesium has also been proven to help anxiety as well. I take a slow-release supplement to protect my stomach, but I also eat a diet high in Magnesium as well. Having a smoothie with bananas, spinach, yogurt and blueberries is not only tasty, but will help your stress levels.
Here’s some information on the benefits of Magnesium:
I know a lot of people don’t like this option, but it really does work. You don’t have to go to a gym or do anything strenuous. You simply have to walk. Walk for a half hour, or an hour, or more if you like. I use the elliptical every day for 45 minutes, basically, the time it takes to watch one of my favorite television shows. Cardio is the best for anxiety and walking or running can really help.
These are just some tips that I use to manage my anxiety. Everyone is different of course, but I hope it helps!