I’m writing this in the car on the way to a ski trip.
I love skiing, and although I haven’t been skiing in a while, I’m excited to hit the slopes.
Last night though, I had anxiety about the trip before bed and a little bit in the middle of the night. I was worried about going on the ski lifts (I haven’t been on one in a while) and that I would fall off. Obviously, that’s probably not going to happen, but at night everything is magnified and it’s harder for me to calm down.
Anxiety has been on my mind more than usual lately, so I was inspired to write this post.
If you haven’t checked out round one and round two yet, make sure to read those ones as well.
1. Eat enough.
This one was the one that inspired me to do round three because it’s so overlooked. Sometimes, when I’m anxious, I need to eat.
I’m in the car right now. I hadn’t eaten for 4 hours and 30 minutes, and I wasn’t going to have access to the food in the back of the car for another hour. I was anxious and hungry.
And then I had an apple, and now I feel great again.
I want you to pay attention the next time you’re anxious - are you hungry, too? If you are, a snack could be the quick fix that will save you a lot of anxiety.
All the people with anxiety out there - you know what I’m talking about. When you’re deprived of energy, whether that’s from undersleeping or not eating for a long time, it’s a lot harder to manage anxiety.
I know it’s not always convenient to eat an entire meal, but you don’t have to. Have a small, healthy snack that won’t make your energy crash in just an hour or two. I had an apple today, but ideally I would also have some protein and fat along with it, but I didn’t have access to any (except dark chocolate, but I don’t like to eat it late in the day for sleep reasons).
Some quick ideas are an apple or banana with nut or seed butter, guacamole with raw vegetables, or protein balls. Check out this post for some more ideas.
What I want you to walk away with is the takeaway that hunger can cause anxiety, or at the very least exacerbate it, and in those cases eating can be a simple fix.
2. Spend time with people you love.
There’s nothing to combat anxiety like hanging out with some good friends.
Anxiety can feel isolating sometimes, and it helps to remind yourself how loved you are by spending time with people you love.
Sometimes all I need is a fresh perspective or someone to make me laugh or to have a deep conversation that distracts me from my anxiety. Anxiety is like a black hole: it sucks you in, it distorts your thoughts, it drags you aways from present realities.
Actually, I don’t really know if that’s even close to a black hole, but close enough.
We all need a good friend at times. We all need to spend time with family and talk and play games and laugh.
Make sure that you have at least one person who you can count on to be there for you. Have a person who you can call up and talk to when you need to.
With that being said, keep in mind that you won’t always feel like being around people. Sometimes when I’m anxious I’m super irritable and I feel like hanging out with myself for a while. That’s okay, too.
Call up a friend or go on a walk or go to your bestie’s house and paint your nails. Part of the reason why being with people is so powerful for combating anxiety is that it can be fun and you can laugh and take your mind off of anxiety for a while.
3. Take your anxious thought and write down why you shouldn’t believe it.
This is one I’ve been doing for a while, and I think it’s one of the most powerful things I’ve ever done for my anxiety. Seriously, this one is a HUGE game-changer.
Your thoughts aren’t necessarily the truth. And when it comes to anxiety, your thoughts are more than likely NOT the truth. They’re more of a slight possibility or over exaggeration of the possibilities.
That has been one of the key factors that has helped me go from checking to see if the faucet is off three times every time I go to the bathroom in the middle of the night to zero. (It also helps that we got new faucets that are very obviously off.)
I used to let my thoughts control me. They used to dictate my emotions and my actions. But I’ve realized in the past year or two that that’s not the way it has to be. I have control over my thoughts - not the ones that come into my head, but the ones I choose to believe.
If I wanted to believe the lies that anxiety often tells me, I could. But I know that they’re just that: lies. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being lied to. So that’s why I’ve tried to stop lying to myself.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s HARD. It’s a lifelong process, a battle that I’ll be fighting for the rest of my life. Sometimes I fail and fall into the anxiety trap. In fact, it happens quite often. But I know that I just have to keep making progress, and it will continue to improve, as it already has.
Here’s how to get started.
Write down the anxious thought, and then counter it. Write it down, telling yourself why it’s a big fat lie and you’re not going to let it steal your peace and joy. Remind yourself that you don’t have to believe it. Your initial thoughts don’t have to be your final ones.
4. Take a few deep breaths.
Have you ever noticed that when you’re feeling anxious, it’s just as physical as it is mental?
One of the most noticeable ways that anxiety physically manifests itself is by making your breath shallower and quicker.
Taking some slow, deep breaths can help you to counter this.
Try to breathe so that your belly moves in and out, rather than your shoulders bobbing up and down.
I like to use essential oils, too. Some of my favorites are lavender, orange, and frankincense.
Breathing is soooooo effective and underrated. Its effects are almost immediate; I can feel the difference after only a couple deep breaths.
I’ve noticed my tightness and shallow breathing more lately, and deep breaths have helped me to feel more relaxed.
5. Ask yourself what you need.
Sometimes we need to be alone. Or maybe we need a friend, or a snack, or a few minutes of fresh air. Maybe you need to take a bath or go to bed early or sleep in or stop studying or listen to your favorite playlist.
We’re human. We have basic needs that often get overlooked in our busy world. Taking care of yourself isn’t just brushing your teeth, it’s treating your body and mind with respect and giving them what they need. It’s taking time out of your day to slow down and giving yourself the space to think and reflect and dream instead of perfecting everything and thinking that your worth is dictated by what you check off your to-do list.
Ask yourself when you’re anxious, “What do I need right now?” Anxiety can hit you pretty hard, and sometimes you need to slow down. Here are some things that I often find that I need:
Trust me, I know how painful anxiety can be.
I also know how much I loved reading other people’s blogs or listening to their podcasts and being able to say, “that’s me, that’s what I feel.” It’s eye-opening to realize that you’re not the only one who’s experiencing this, even if you haven’t met anyone face-to-face who’s dealing with the same things you are.
Take these tips and use them to your advantage - I want you to be better at managing your anxiety after reading this post.
It’s incredibly important to make that daily decision to battle anxiety because I truly believe it’s a battle that you can win.