How To Relieve The Effects Of Anxiety, Naturally And At Home
They say the best things in life are free, but I can think of some of the best things in my life that most definitely haven’t been free - like caring for my mental health.
I’m writing this because I’ve explored many different therapies when it comes to reducing the effect anxiety has had on my life over the past few years, all of which involved a bit of purse power.
If improving the quality of your life in certain areas, particularly in health and wellbeing requires spending some pennies then I think it’s worth every one.
By reading this, maybe you won’t need to because I’m hoping this helps you deal with generalised anxiety enough that you won’t need to do the same.
SELF CARE, IF YOU DARE?
Take time for ourselves? You’re having a laugh, right? That’s just selfish, isn’t it? I’ve got too many people relying on me for stuff.
Exactly - when it comes to taking time for yourself, it’s imperative that you do so and without it, stress creeps up on you and weird things start happening to your frame of mind - it did for me, anyway.
Take massages or spa treatment for example: whilst these a wonderful example of self care and a great way to relax and reduce the effects of stress, I don’t quite think they get to the route of the problem (but they are very enjoyable in the moment!). If done on the regular this can end up costing a fair bit and like other similar treatments, their effects are short lived and require regular top ups to keep feeling the benefits.
There’s nothing worse than getting caught out with anxiety, finding yourself without something you rely on, like medication or rescue relief remedies.
Effective changes you can make in your life can start right now at home, some don’t cost a thing and just require a bit of adjustment and you can expect to see definite improvements in the effect that anxiety has on your life, things that make it more difficult for anxiety to get to you whilst you work on building up your resilience to it.
Obvious, I know but stay with me because I speak from experience from my various anxiety therapy sessions and know that the following small, consistent changes in your everyday life can do you the world of good.
MY STRESSORS / TRIGGERS
My particular style of anxiety flares up in one of two ways:
#1 - worrying about an upcoming event or situation for prolonged periods of time (like holidays, travel, events)
#2 - caught completely off guard and unexpected (feeling confident right up until an unexpected encounter with a panic attack)
I’ve found that a good balance of ‘essentials’ and ‘not-so essentials’ helps massively, and those are the two ways I like to categorise moving toward a path of healthier, happier body and mind.
(things that are very important)
(things that aren’t so important, but we indulge in anyway because they feel good)
spa treatments / pampering
luxury beauty products
If there’s anything I’ve learnt it’s that anxiety can be resolved and it can be done so naturally. In fact, you’re pretty much already equipped to overcome stress, but you just possibly haven’t found the confidence in yourself to believe it yet.
I know, I’m just another person rambling on about anxiety but a series of particularly bad bouts of it in the past few years left me in such complete misery, feeling totally unwell with it and I decided that the last time would be would be the last time.
I’ve explored a few simple but effective methods of easing the persistent symptoms of anxiety that consume you day and night, and here they are.
REMOVE YOUR PHONE FROM THE BEDROOM AT NIGHT
This is quite an important one, which is why I’ve started with this. I know that removing my phone from my room at night seems like a really obvious solution to a problem, but sometimes you can’t see it standing right in front of you and it takes an unbiased point of view from a complete stranger to sort it out.
Our phones quite literally blow our minds: that little rectangle of technology we keep by our sides plays a huge, but unassuming part in the wellbeing of our minds and is responsible for interfering with the peace.
Multiple devices: inviting as they are disruptive, and when I’m in the throes of trying to manage some pretty severe anxiety, I turn to the internet to try and find ‘solace’, scrolling through endless forums on my iPhone / iPad / laptop seeking out anything to make me feel better - especially late at night, fuelling my anxiety tank right up to the top - no sleep for me. I was overheating my brain and the simple act of constantly picking up my phone to find whatever it was I was looking (and failing) to find, was so detrimental to my mental health.
App hopping: I’d look at Instagram, then bounce off to ASOS, hit up Safari, watch me some YouTube - all the time completely disrupting the natural process my brain requires to reset by constantly switching between apps.
What difference did it make?
The seemingly innocent act of the phone sitting on your bedside table is in itself too tempting, so with such a simple effort of removing it from the room completely it removed the almost second-nature need to mindlessly look at something.
I live in a bungalow, so I could only place it in another room however if you live in a house, placing it downstairs or even on the stairs each night is worth trying.
I noticed one of the biggest shifts in my mental health after simply removing my phone from the room at night.
2. PANIC SYMPTOMS - DON’T FIGHT THEM, THEY WILL PASS
Logical thoughts: gone. Long gone. It feels like you’ve lost control of your body and you’re pretty sure you’re having a heart attack or going to be sick - or all of the above. I’ve known my body to catapult itself these symptoms so fast and so intensely that I don’t ever see them coming, which means I’m left feeling completely helpless, trapped inside my own chaotic mind and body and it’s truly terrifying.
Fighting against it: the problem isn’t necessarily the sheer distress of the situation you find yourself in, that’s perfectly innocent in itself; it’s the way we are conditioned to feel like we shouldn’t feel this way. We fight against our feelings because we’re afraid they aren’t normal and we want them to go away as soon as possible.
The fizzy bottle analogy: My therapist helped me understand that whilst the level of anxiety is different for everybody, it’s all quite similar to the idea of a fizzy drink in a bottle; the more you shake it, the more explosive when you pop the lid. Imagine the possibility of training your body and mind to react less to the shaking, the drink staying safely contained within the bottle, barely reaching the top. Just a little wobble, not full on explosion.
Don’t worry about your body: it’s an extraordinary machine built to withstand more than I think we give it credit for. It’s evolved over thousands of years to help keep us safe in times of trouble which is why it initiates those ‘fight or flight’ sequence of events and all you need to do is focus on what your anxiety is trying to tell you.
It’s there for a reason and it’s up to you to do some digging into what that could be and reduce the effects it has on your quality of life.
3. GO FOR A WALK, A DRIVE, JUST GET SOME FRESH AIR
Feeling trapped: anxiety has this weird way of making you feel trapped inside your own mind - like you’re going insane and no one around seems to notice, only if you were going insane I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be aware of it, so that’s good.
Something I found very helpful was getting outside (weather permitting, of course) and taking drives. Taking your mind off something helps massively and getting outside with the stimulation of fresh air, nature, scenery, smells and sounds takes you back to basics and helps bring you back to a sense of balance.
It’s not necessarily just a case of distracting yourself, but by getting out and seeing life going on outside the walls of your home (and mind) helps put things into perspective.
4. GET YOUR BLOOD PUMPING
Shake it up: I’ve found nothing disturbs anxiety quite like vigorous exercise and it’s just often the idea of it is the worst part, doing it is the best part. I like to think anxiety is sitting quite comfortably with its feet up, whilst wreaking havoc and you pull the chair out from under it when you exercise.
Exercise often gets seen as a form of punishment for your body, when it’s actually one of the best things for it. Getting your heart pumping, your blood flowing and your limbs moving is a basic needs that will improve the general health of your body and mind.
I’ve found if I’m in a bad mood, exercise can pull me out of it and it’s the same with anxiety. If I could look inside my body when it’s in a stressed state, it would be like looking through a thick fog and the only way to clear it is to get moving.
I feel 10x better after exercise and it’s got a lot to answer for!
5. LESS CAFFEINE, MORE WATER
Coffee: a devastatingly about it is that caffeine heightens heart rate and increases anxiety.
Drinking plenty of water is a recommendation for pretty much anything for good reason, our bodies thrive on water and can only function to the best of their ability if they are well hydrated.
Common symptoms which can be mistaken for anxiety (like depression, irritability or dizziness) are quite often signs of dehydration and I like to physically and mentally feel like I’m flushing anxiety from my system.
I find my heart bangs unnervingly fast and that’s a sign I’ve had too much intake of caffeine, anxious thoughts then start flooding in so keeping an eye on my caffeine intake is a big priority for me.
Other recommendations for anxiety:
TAKE YOUR MIND OFF IT WITH THESE INCREDIBLE READS
The Anxiety Solution by Bella Dodds
a really non-patronising book helping to understand of our anxiety from the inside out.
Feel The Fear, Do It Anyway - Susan Jeffers
How to reinstall the confidence and belief in yourself that you may have lost along the way
Fear Of Flying? Travel Anxiety?
Allen Carr’s ‘The Easy Way To Enjoy Flying’ changed the way I think about flying, forever!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this read, it feels good to get things out in the open don’t you think?