I have been working on putting together a blog post on all the things that helped me manage my anxiety – but honestly, the list is too long for a single blog post. Instead of going into the deeper things I did, I am going to start with the 5 easiest things I did to help manage my anxiety. I know these aren’t all easy because any lifestyle change takes some effort, but they are things you can do on your own without the help of a professional.
O N E : Drink enough water – Drinking water is important for so many reasons, but did you know that the symptoms of being dehydrated mimics the symptoms of a panic attack? Honestly, I found this out the hard way, but scientifically, it makes sense! When you’re dehydrated, your heart rate increases and your blood pressure can drop, causing you to feel light headed and dizzy. Panic attack symptoms, anyone?! Then, you start thinking, “am I going to pass out, what’s happening to me?” which then can lead into a full on panic attack. Drink water, friends!
T W O : Use essential oils/herbs – This is by far the easiest one. Buy new, fun essential oils and tea? YES PLEASE. Can I be honest, though? I didn’t buy into the essential oil/herb remedies much until I started taking a herbal medicine class this semester. I really wanted to believe the hype of essential oils and herbal remedies, but I couldn’t until I took the time to sit down and dig into some of the research. Once I did, I was amazed by all the benefits. A few herbs that I’ve been using daily for anxiety are catnip, chamomile, and peppermint. Since I continually forget to take supplements, I’ve been using different teas to get these herbs in daily. There are a ton of great teas out there for anxiety, here’s an example of one that has an awesome blend of herbs!
I also started using essential oils a few months ago and they have been a game changer for me. I use them topically as well as in my diffuser (my favorite). If you aren’t sure what oils to start with for anxiety relief, I recommend getting a lavender oil and a roll on calming blend like this. Personally, I use doTERRA because I did the research and was very impressed with their standard of oil production. There are other brands out there that are high quality, but please do your research before you buy oils because they can be full of synthetic ingredients and not something you should be putting on your skin/inhaling through your diffuser.
T H R E E: Keep blood sugar levels stable – My first Whole30 took care of this for me, but you don’t have to do Whole30 and/or go Paleo to do this (although I highly recommend doing something like Paleo to get away from the Standard American diet since diet plays such a big role in mental health).
Prior to Whole30, I was eating pretty terrible and very carb heavy, especially processed carbs. I would wake up in the morning, eat a bagel and cream cheese with some orange juice and banana, then get busy at work – eat a few 100 calorie pack snacks, then not eat another meal until around 5 when I was done with work. My blood sugar would be so high in the AM from the simple carbs and sugar I was eating, drop during the day, spike with the carb heavy snacks, then skyrocket again when I would eat a Chick-fil-a sandwich with fries and a sweet tea. I know not everyones diet is this extreme, but the constant flux in my blood sugar levels did a number on my anxiety. When my blood sugar levels would drop, I would get lightheaded, dizzy, and feel like I was going to pass out sending me into a spiral of “what’s happening to me?” and an eventual panic attack.
Since keto is so big right now I have a lot of people messaging me asking if they should go keto to help with their anxiety. I do think keto has some benefits for anxiety, especially keeping blood sugar regulated, but you can start even smaller than that. Start by cutting out processed foods and limiting sugar, then work from there.
F O U R: Limit/Eliminate caffeine – Every anxiety book I have read has suggested giving up caffeine and being completely transparent, this is one I am still working on. I have given up caffeine during the week almost completely besides a kombucha here and there. I have also completely given up fully caffeinated coffee, which has been huge for my anxiety symptoms. I do still drink matcha and decaf coffee which I think affects it a little bit, but it makes me happy so I am sticking with it for now.
The easiest way to taper off caffeine? Start by slowly tapering off. You can start with half-caff coffee, then switch to something like matcha or another tea that has a little less caffeine until you’re body adjusts enough to go off entirely.
Do you have to give it up forever? definitely not! The easiest way to see how your body is responding to caffeine is to give it up for 30 days and then reintroduce it. I did a podcast on Real Talk With Dana about coffee and anxiety that you can find here.
F I V E: Meditate 5 min a day – Only 5 min? I am a proponent of starting small. We are all busy and taking chunks of 30 min out of our day to start something new can seem very overwhelming. That’s why I always suggest 5 min. Start with 5 min and build from there. Getting up consistently 5 min early and doing meditation is a lot better than trying to get up 30 min early and not doing it at all. Why should you meditate? This article explains it in awesome detail if you’re interested in learning more. If not, the short answer is the more you mediate, the more the Me center of the brain is able to recognize the sensations in the fear center of the brain for what they actually are and not respond to them as strongly, therefore decreasing anxiety.
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me. I am by no means an expert on the topic of anxiety, but I am happy to help in any way I can. 🙂