My Top 10 for Coping with My Anxiety Disorder
10. Chamomile Tea – A natural sedative that helps me settle down if I am feeling restless.
9. Mitigate Stress – Easier said than done. Probably my greatest challenge is learning to let go when I can’t fix it. This is a hard lesson and one I constantly have to work at.
8. Regular sleep – Also easier said than done; especially when I am anxious as I become an Insomniac. I have found that a warm bath really helps as well as doing relaxation exercises. But if I can’t sleep, rather than stressing about how tired I will be in the morning, I will turn on the TV and set the timer. A lot of the time it distracts me enough that I can relax and then drift off.
7. Minimize caffeine and alcohol - While most research says none, I prefer a more moderate approach. I will enjoy a glass of wine with dinner on occasion and maybe some tea or decaf coffee on occasion but I do not indulge on an empty stomach and use in moderation.
6. Relaxation Exercises – I have found some great CDs with relaxation exercises. I always look for ones that focus on breathing because it really helps.
5. Small regular meals – I have always had bad eating habits. I never ate breakfast and always a huge dinner in the evening. I am now careful to eat many small meals through the day and not to eat within 3 hours of going to bed. It is important that my blood sugar remains steady as highs and lows seem to induce symptoms. I also try to avoid sugar but if I am going to indulge it is never on an empty stomach as I am guaranteed a spike in my blood sugar and then the symptoms start.
4. Exercise – I make myself get out of my office, get changed and go for a walk every lunch hour. I change into comfortable warm clothes and runners so that I can walk comfortably and avoid getting chilled which makes me tense up. I am lucky that I have excellent walking paths near my office. I put on relaxing music and just enjoy the fresh air and quiet. I also make sure I am breathing correctly while walking.
3. Posture and Breathing – When I start to feel my anxiety increase the first thing I check is my posture. I am a writer and spend 7 hours a day in front of my computer or in meetings. This really affects my posture and breathing and if I am not paying attention I tend to slouch. When I am slouching I increase my back and neck pain as well as reduce oxygen flow to my body. I am learning to sit properly and use an exercise ball for part of my day to improve my posture and core body strength. Getting enough good oxygen in my body and avoiding neck and back pain really makes a difference in alleviating the symptoms.
2. Distraction - I get my worst symptoms while I am working because of the nature of my work. I noticed awhile ago that I will often be on the verge of a panic attack when I have to go into a meeting but once in the meeting and I get involved with what is going on and my symptoms disappear. I realized that distraction is the best way to relieve my symptoms. When I feel anxious I find something to completely distract me. At home, I play video games especially ones that involve strategy as I get so involved in my strategy that I forget everything else. Without fail, my symptoms go away and I am comfortable again.
1. Education – The more I learn about Anxiety Disorders the better I am able to cope. I have known for years that I have anxiety and panic attacks but I really had no idea what it meant or how many of my everyday aches and pains were related to Anxiety Disorder. For example, I now know that the dizzy spells I have are a symptom so when I start feeling dizzy I can now identify it as a symptom and can even stop it by reasoning in my head that it is only a symptom, there is nothing wrong with me and I will not allow it to take over. I now understand what they are and they cannot hurt me so I will not allow them to control me. It is an ongoing learning experience but it is really making a difference and I can go to work or out with friends without the constant fear of losing control.