If you have ever felt the crippling feeling of doom and fear that a panic attack can bring, know you are not alone.
I don’t know if it’s my genetics or our world, but I have (looking back) dealt with anxiety, to some degree, my entire life.
I didn’t have a “real” panic attack until 2017, which I dubbed ‘the year of the panic attack.’ I’m sarcastic about it now, but it was honestly one of the worst periods of my entire life. The winter of 2017 brought a lot of mental anguish for me. I think it had something to do with preparing for my wedding, being misdiagnosed with a breast tumor, and having my three-year-old cat die of leukemia, but it could have also been a lack of self-care. I was burning the candle on both ends.
Now, having gone through that extremely dark winter, I can safely say there are certain things that 100 percent help me avoid and prevent panic attacks.
Here are my top tips:
- Having a workout routine. Yoga is a lifesaver for me. Not only does it calm the parasympathetic nervous system, but it calms my mind immensely. When I am on the mat, I am living in the moment. It is a sacred time for me to move my body while releasing stress, muscle tension, and worries. I try to get on the mat at least four times per week, if not more.
- Practicing meditation. Prayer, meditation, sitting peacefully, practicing mindfulness — whatever label you want to put on it, make time for it daily. Taking just FIVE MINUTES of your day to empty your mind, close your eyes and just breathe is critical. You can’t relax if you don’t make time for it.
- Having a daily routine (to an extent). Obviously this isn’t fool-proof. You cannot control every second of every day — and that’s not healthy, either. But during the weekday, especially because I work from home, having a routine allows me to set boundaries for myself and stay on track.
- Spending time in nature. Getting outside each and every day is so important. One of my favorite things about living in Edinburgh, is that I can walk everywhere. I am one of *those* people who tries to clock in 10,000 steps per day. And you know what? I feel so much better when I do. I notice a huge shift in my mood the days where I, for example, walk to the library, then sit in the park to read for a while. Taking the time to see greenery or sit by a lake or the sea is so soothing and helps to remind me that my worries are not so big after all.
- Making time to be creative. I am happiest when I am creative. And you don’t have to be an artist to get creative. I am creative for a living — but that can take a toll on me. Writing fiction is my passion, so when I make time daily to just allow myself to ‘make shit up’ — it really feels freeing and ignites something within me that nothing else can.
- Practicing self-care. Whether it’s a warm bath, a face mask, watching a movie, or reading a book, taking just a half hour a few times a week for just *me* is important.
- Reminding myself to breathe, deeply. Breathing in deeply nine times in through the nose and slowly out through the mouth can help to reset the nervous system. Sometimes we all need this little reminder.
- Positive social interaction. I’m as introverted as they come, but everybody needs to interact socially on occasion to feel alive and be heard. I’m lucky that my husband is literally my BFF and is as extroverted as they come, because he brings a lot of positive social interaction to my life. When I feel anxious, he is always there to talk me through it and remind me that everything is going to be alright. It’s important to have somebody like that in your life.
- Eating a nutritious, vegan diet + lots of hydration. Diet plays a HUGE role in mental health. Your gut is literally your second brain. Did you know you have neurons in your intestinal tract? What you eat directly effects your mood and how your brain functions, so make sure what you are eating to fuel your life is clean, green and packed with nutrition.
- Staying away from added sugar + caffeine. Too much added sugar has been scientifically proven to trigger feelings of anxiety. I don’t like how I feel when I drink caffeine, so I avoid coffee in all forms. I’m not a big sugar girl, but when I do have it, I make sure it’s long before going to bed. Even just a square of raw, organic dark chocolate too close to bed, for me, can be triggering.
- Taking my vitamins. Vitamin D, B Complex, Zinc, Magnesium. Those are my dailies. The rest, I get from diet and herbal teas. I love steeping nettles overnight in distilled water, then drinking that brew throughout the day. (Nettles are chock FULL of vitamins and minerals! Especially iron.)
- Limiting screen time. The internet can be great, as well as social media for many reasons — but it can quickly can become a hinderance. Because I have to be on my phone constantly during the week for work, and social media apps can be tempting/distracting, I actually set an app to block my social media usage after a certain amount of time.
- Getting adequate rest. This one may sound like a no-brainer, but make sure you’re getting enough sleep! When we are not well-rested, our bodies react negatively. Sleeping in a cool environment, using a white noise machine, and not using technology before bed are all helpful to get me to sleep.
What do you find helpful when dealing with anxiety? Let me know in a comment below