Let’s be honest, anxiety sucks. But, it’s a part of my everyday life. I’ve gone from resenting it to embracing it and have learned a lot about how to manage it over the years.
My first experience with the world of mental health included seeing a psychiatrist, getting a prescription for anxiety medication, and being sent on my way to manage on my own. I later had several encounters trying different types of therapy, but I ultimately improved my anxiety, in large part, on my own. *As a disclaimer, if you struggle with any type of mental health issue, you should by all means, seek professional help.
I was diagnosed at 19, but as I entered my 20s, more and more women around me started dealing with similar symptoms. Some were formally diagnosed and some just experienced occasional symptoms or had random panic attacks out of the blue. Turns out most mental heart disorders emerge in your 20s. If you’re going to have an anxiety disorder as an adult, there’s a 90% chance that you’ll have had it as an adolescent.
Anxiety symptoms can include:
- Feelings of panic, fear, and uneasiness
- Problems sleeping
- Cold or sweaty hands and/or feet
- Shortness of breath (sometimes described as “air hunger“)
- Heart palpitations
- An inability to be still and calm
- Dry mouth
- Numbness or tingling in the hands or feet (often from hyperventilation)
- Muscle tension
- Dizziness or feelings of vertigo
5 Ways I Manage Anxiety
Whether you have anxiety, have a different type of mental health issue, or are just dealing with stress, these tips and tricks can help!
A friend sent me a meme the other day that said: “Ultimate life hack: Yoga” – I don’t think I can sum it up any better than that.
Like many people, I started doing yoga mostly for the physical benefits. Yoga is a great form of exercise and has been shown to reduce heart disease, chronic pain (such as back pain) and has so many other benefits. However, I soon learned that yoga is incredibly powerful at connecting the mind and body and allows you to tune into yourself as a whole. Yoga relaxes the sympathetic nervous system and can be a powerful tool to reduce stress (both the physical and mental symptoms).
My anxiety often manifests in a physical form, so yoga, for me, is a gateway to mediation. A yoga teacher once told me that women often have an easier time getting into a meditative state through yoga, rather than just sitting still and meditating. Which is the perfect segway to my next tip…
As Dan Harris, the author of 10% Happier says, “When you’re cut off from your emotions, they often manifest in your body.” Mediation is a great way to tune into your body and clear your mind.
When I was first diagnosed with anxiety, I tried meditating on my own or with YouTube videos…but had limited success. Today, I use the Calm app religiously.
- Favorite Apps: There are so many meditation apps out there now. I recommend Calm, Headspace or 10% Happier.
- Books: If you’re new to meditation, I recommend 10% Happier or Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics, which is more of a “how to” book.
3. Maintain Blood Sugar Levels
Some people get “hangry” and others, like me, get… “hanxiety.” If you will ;).
This is something that took me a long time to learn. The physical feeling of low blood sugar can mimic anxiety symptoms, so it’s really important to try to balance your blood sugar levels and not let your blood sugar get too low. Simply put, it’s important to eat a balanced diet and eat regular meals.
This one is pretty simple, but often hard to remember! If you’re prone to stress or anxiety, not getting enough water can often feel like anxiety symptoms (similar to the feeling of having low blood sugar). I try to stay on top of staying hydrated by drinking at least 8 8-oz glasses and just keeping my water bottle full at all times.
This is one tip I actually just learned about! Referred to as “the original chill pill” magnesium has been used for a long time to improve stress and anxiety.
- Eat foods in high in magnesium. Such as whole grains, beans, green leafy vegetables, and nuts.
- Try a magnesium supplement, like Natural Calm by Natural Vitality, a great way to increase magnesium levels if you’re not getting enough if your diet.
- Add Epsom salt to your bath. Preliminary research suggests magnesium can be absorbed through the skin, such as through Epsom salts (which contain magnesium) that makes for a relaxing bath!
- Magnesium has other health benefits, like improving migraines. There’s also some evidence that low magnesium levels are associated with migraines. Research suggests that increasing dietary magnesium levels is an effective way to reduce migraines.
*The benefits of magnesium are really interesting to me, so stay tuned, I’m working on a new post all about magnesium!