Five helpful tips when dealing with anxiety
Updated: Sep 11, 2022
Anyone else not feeling like themselves as of late? You feel like a stranger inside of your body? You need a hot f’ing second to gather wtf just happened in a meeting? Or you feel like an alien just took over your soul and you can’t seem to catch your breath? Me too, girlfriend. With all the current craziness of 2020 we are exposed to on the daily (shit, hourly); the isolation, the confusion, the election, the endless tickle in our throat that makes us question “is it corona” – it’s no wonder we feel this way! Don’t judge yourself, you are not alone. All of us are experiencing some form of stress and/or anxiety as of late and some more intense than others.
If you are anything like me once anxiety takes the wheel, it’s very hard to walk that little bitch back. She’s a bit of a sniper. You can feel her presence like a dementor circling around you; however, you insist to yourself you are fine and in complete control. Then when you aren’t looking, BAM she strikes from what appears to be out of nowhere. By this point you are ass over applecart rolling down a hill of worries, panic, rapid heart rate, hyperventilating, etc. When this happens to me, I want to immediately escape from anxiety’s clutches as fast as I can; but the panic seems to hold me hostage. Why does this happen and how can I break free from it?
When anxiety sneaks up on us, we must remember that there is a chemical reaction occurring within our body that we cannot control. The sector of our brain (amygdala) who is responsible for perceived fear, sends a smoke signal to our hypothalamus which stimulates our autonomic nervous system (ANS). When our ANS is activated our bodies release stress hormones - adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones immediately shift our bodies into the stress response of fight-flight-or-freeze. Fun fact, our bodies are not able to regulate how much or little of the hormone to release. Therefore, the same amount will be release if you have a serial killer chasing you or you just received a stressful email from your boss. Awesome.
To sum it up, our brain just told our body “shits about to go down” so you either need to fight, flee, or in my personal case – freeze. I would have made a terrible caveman anytime there was a crisis or a saber-toothed tiger gearing up to chase my ass, due to my “freezer” reaction. Unfortunately, you cannot change or select your reaction based on the circumstances. I’ve asked around.
So, what do we do to get our ass out of this fight-flight-or-freeze spiral?
Below are my top 5 go-to tools I use when I am about to or have already completely lost my shit. This is a combination of recommendations from both my therapist and other professionals in the field. To note, I do not always use all five in every single instance. It varies pending on the level of anxiety I am experiencing. I have also found, creating a daily practice of the below actually helps keep miss anxiety at bay.
1. Hydrate yourself
First and foremost, drink a glass of water.
I cannot stress enough how much dehydration plays a role in stress and anxiety. As talked about previously the brain is made up of 75% water. Even the slightest dehydration will dramatically affect your ability to think clearly. Also, since your body has just released a ton of stress hormones, drinking water will help flush them thru your system much faster.
2. Forward Fold
You can do this either sitting or standing. I personally prefer to be standing.
· In the sitting position, have your legs straight out in front of you and bend at the waist. If you can grab your feet and pull yourself closer to your legs – great. However, not necessary. Take a few deeps breaths and come back up to sitting.
My additional tip is to take this time to stretch other areas of your body where you might feel stress and/or tension. Our issues live in our tissue!
Ex: roll your neck, shoulders, hips, etc.
· Stretching will also increase blood flow and assist your body in processing those pesky stress hormones.
3. Scalp massage
· Rub your head from the front of your forehead, out to your temples and all the way to the back of your skull. Tug on your hair at the top of your head to pull your scalp away from your skull – thus releasing trapped tension.
Once you get to the back of your skull, along your occipital ridge, rub directly on the ridge with your thumbs. It feels glorious.
· Also, make sure to rub around in and around your ears (you will thank me). Pull them out from your head a bit. It will release any stress or tension that is stuck in there.
4. Essential Oils
Our sense of smell plays a huge part in our emotional state.
· I highly recommend reaching for lavender or frankincense in moments of anxiousness.
· I prefer a direct application to my body. I roll frank and lavender oils directly onto my spine; the nerve receptors along your spinal column will push the oils directly thru to your central nervous system (CNS).
· You can also diffuse them in a diffuser or draw a bath and add them directly to the water.
5. Ground yourself (my most favorite technique!)
Grounding connects you energetically to the earth. It allows you to be more authentically in your body and receive healing energy.
· If you can get to some grass and remove your shoes, perfection. No grass? Go sit by a tree and be touching it-shit, hug it if you want. The whole point is to get your ass in nature.
· Calm your mind and be still. Feel the cool grass against your toes and take 3-5 deep breaths in and out. Each breath you take in, I want you to take twice as long to exhale the air back out.
Listen to nature. Birds chirping, insects buzzing, wind blowing, neighbors screaming (ok not them-focus!).
· Stay in that spot and feel the energy from the ground and draw it into your body with each inhale you take. With each exhale, I want you to exhale all the stress inside your body.
Exhale your work deadlines, your kids homeschooling drama, financial concerns – exhale it all.
· Can’t seem to calm your thoughts in 5 breaths – do 10. The point is, take time to check in with yourself, with your body and your mind. You got this babe!