In recent years I've struggled with raised levels of anxiety and panic attacks and wanted to share some of the techniques that helped me cope and eventually overcome it.
A few years ago one such 'punch' took its toll on me, resulting in heightened anxiety and panic attacks . I researched numerous
natural remedies. Now follows my top 10 tips to cope with anxiety - I hope they help you too.
Ok I know it sounds obvious. And it's something I found difficult as I suffer from the dreaded white coat syndrome. But when I plucked up the courage to see my GP, it proved really beneficial. As well as being understanding,
he informed me I had a 'form of post traumatic stress'. That made sense of my symptoms, so at least gave it a context. And although I declined the offer of medication, I
knew it was there if I couldn't cope. And agreeing to have counselling meant help was at hand.
Distracting the mind helped me. I realised if I could get my mind not just to focus on something else but be consumed by it, it would leave little room for anxiety. The trick is finding
something that works for you. Here's 2 examples.
Travel & Holidays. During the time I was having panic attacks, we had a holiday booked, so off we flew to Barcelona. In just 2 hours from the UK you
arrive in a country with a completely different culture, climate and cuisine. Being absorbed with the delights of this Catalan city proved to be a real distraction for me and a great tonic. Wherever I turned there was something of interest to see and enjoy. Warm sunny weather; amazing food; unusual architecture; sea air; boat trips.
So good we went back the following year.
The 3's Game. The idea is to find a quiet place and simply think of 3 things you can see; 3 that you can hear; And 3 that you can touch. But really try to look and listen. Take time and don't rush it. And as for the items you can touch - well touch them.
Just a simple game again to try and trick the mind to switch off from anxiety by focussing on something else.
Whenever you search for tips to help reduce anxiety, breathing always features very highly. What works best for me is to listen to an experienced professional talk me through it.
It gives the exercise more of a structure and feels reassuring. A simple search on YouTube for 'breathing to reduce anxiety' will reveal lots of good examples. My personal
favorite is 'Quick Relaxation to Relieve Stress' by Joanne Damico - she has a soothing voice and I love the idea of not just breathing out but 'sighing it out' - something quite therapeutic about that. Thank you Joanne.
Without even knowing, you helped me through a very difficult time. You can find out more about Joanne and her treatments at https://www.relaxforawhile.com
I'm fortunate enough to live just 5 minutes walk from a local nature trail. This became my go to escape route when panic set in. Suddenly being immersed in shades of brown and green and
hearing the birds singing was very comforting. And walking briskly helped burn off what I assume is some form of adrenaline that floods the body during a panic attack. Walking also
gave me time to think, meditate, breathe, and even pray.
Music is a passion of mine and I have a fairly wide taste. I have numerous Spotify playlists including
ones for when I'm cooking, soaking in the bath, driving or just chilling. But to ease anxiety I turn to different
types that I don't normally listen to. I find instrumental classical music and jazz very easy going and calming.
So I'll either search Spotify for 'relaxing classical' or ask my Amazon Echo to play 'smooth Jazz'. Alexa always finds something suitable. The relative simplicity of instrumental sounds
compared to pop/rock helps to unclutter the mind.
Atmosphere. During the worst spells of anxiety I would regularly wake up in the early hours, get out of bed and go downstairs. Fortunately I found an app - Atmosphere -
that lets you play a wide combination of different sounds. My favourites are mixing 'rain' and 'campfire' with a little 'storm'. 'Waves' is another. I still use the app now if I'm struggling to get off to sleep.
You can access the android app here and the Apple one here.
I've always loved being scratched or having my feet rubbed. So relaxing and a big help when anxiety
is high. Sarah Menges' article on PlushCare's website sheds more light on this.
Similarly, I can soak in a hot bath for hours. The sensation of the soapy water covering the body to me is pure therapy. Add to that some gentle music, lavender oil, a candle or two and
your favourite bubble bath. My favourite are Lush's bath bombs.
In other words, time out of your normal routine to completely switch off with no interuptions. I wouldn't recommend anything that could
stimulate the mind, such as watching tv (there are exceptions!) or playing computer games. And try to eliminate any distractions by turning your phone off for a while.
There are many ways to achieve 'time out' - here's a few ideas:
Lots of online resources recommend a balanced healthy diet to combat anxiety. As well at eating healthily, I take a multi vitamin daily and try to have smoothies as often as
possible. They are quick and easy to make and packed with good things. I include protein powder, oat bran and berries in mine. I can't say I've ever felt these reduce anxiety, but at least I'm comforted by the fact
that my body has all the nutrients it needs.
They do say 'laughter is the best medicine' and many recognise its positive benefits, like
article on HelpGuide's website. I like the point where it says that 'Laughter shifts perspective'. So again another
form of distraction I suppose.
I enjoy all sorts of comedy, but for an instant fix I tend to go for quick fire comedy
(anything by Tim Vine is hilarious) or those 'funny' compilation videos easily found on YouTube.
My wife is a dog walker and boarder so I get to meet lots of different dogs. At first I was nervous of the bigger ones but soon got used to them.
Now I really look forward to interacting with them, especially my favorites of which there are many.
I've heard it said that stroking a dog has a calming effect and can lower blood pressure. Not sure if there's any evidence in this but
it is relaxing. And playing ball with them or teasing them is a fun form of distraction which could help reduce anxiety.
If you don't have a dog, why not ask a friend or family member who has to bring it over, or join them on a walk?
I've summarised them below - feel free to grab a screen shot and print for your own reference.