In a perfect world, we'd be calm and collected all the time, and totally in control of our emotions, but this world is anything but perfect, so a little anxiety is bound to happen. Over the last few years I've noticed that I've started to get crazy anxiety. And I know that I'm not alone. Anxiety among moms is super common, and while some are diagnosed by a doctor and others are self-diagnosed (my hand is raised for this one) dealing with anxiety is handled in a variety of ways. I like to practice anxiety self help when mine rears its ugly head. While there is medicine available to help people cope, I much prefer to try these easy ideas instead. For some people, anxiety can be debilitating, while others can power through it. I've always been a “worry wart” but now realize that's really because of a low-level anxiety that makes me over think things and all the possible outcomes. It has led to a ton of sleepless nights, overactive planning for disasters and even cancelling plans at the last-minute because of a feeling of impending doom. I, 100% think that, for some people, anxiety medicine is needed. I have no negative judgements about that. Heck, I may even use some one day in the future. But for me, right now, I prefer to try anxiety self help methods to manage my anxiety.
Dealing with anxiety at home before taking medicine
Lack of sleep can affect your health and your mental and physical ability to handle stress. A good seven to nine hours a day will help keep anxiety at bay. As moms, that isn't likely. So we need to make sure that we are getting the best sleep we can for as many hours as we can. I've never been a napper, but if you can, taking a short nap in the afternoon is a good way to sneak in some rest for your body and hopefully your brain.
Spring Clean Your Mind
Start by letting go of anything that mentally stresses you out. Use the serenity prayer for guidance,
“God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.”
I know it's easier to say and harder to do but try to let it go, because there's nothing you can do about it. If you aren't religious use the prayer as a reminder to evaluate things for what they are. There's no sense worrying over the things that you can't change. And if you can, make the change! That's the quickest way to quiet your mind!
For me, when I was up all night worried about natural disasters, creating a plan in case one happened really helped! And when life got hard and I felt SO stressed out, I gave my worry over to God through prayer and put the outcome in his hands. I truly believe this is the only way I made it through the last few years. I could then step away and separate myself from the problems and find quiet to get the rest my body and mind needed. De-Clutter Your Physical Area
Believe it or not, a messy workspace or home can raise your anxiety ten-fold. Over the last year or so, I've been making a point to at least make sure the area closest to my bed is in order. Even if the rest of the house is a mess, the last place I see before going to bed is calm. This was totally reinforced when my husband fixed our washer (but had it apart, and ALL over the kitchen for a week). I instantly felt calm the minute he put it all back together. All you need is 10 minutes to tidy things up in your work area or at home. You'll feel much better.
Eat The Anxiety Away
No! This doesn't mean that you're allowed to buy an entire ice cream cake and eat it on your own, although that sounds tempting as heck. What I've read is that foods with omega-3 (like walnuts and even Fontina cheese) and Vitamin B (orange, cantaloupe, tuna) have been known to regulate serotonin and neurotransmitter levels to keep us calm and collected.
And if you can keep it in control, having a glass of wine, or a favorite treat, can have positive effects. I think this allows you to turn inward and have something that makes you happy. This can't be a prolonged fix, though. And I'm sure doctors would not suggest that, but let's be real. Sometimes nachos are the right answer.Just Breathe
Breathe in and breathe out. Sometimes all we need to do is to pay attention to our breathing. Short, shallow breaths keep our anxiety high by not letting our bodies feel like it's getting enough oxygen. It helps contribute to that panicky feeling. Nice, slow breathing lets your brain know that everything is cool. One thing I like to do when I'm feeling all wound up is to use some calming essential oils on my wrists. Then I take a long, slow breath in, while inhaling, and then slowly exhaling. Your breath in should be the same length as your breath out. Regulating your breathing can help you calm down in a moment of anxiety.
Meditation seems to be the big thing in self help right now. So it makes sense that you'd find it on a list of anxiety self help tips. There are many self-guided apps to help you if you have never mediated before. I like Headspace and Calm. They are perfect for beginners because they walk you through everything. And they have some options that are short and some that are longer.
If you can make a habit to do this daily, it's a great way to calm your mind, even for 5 minutes, and give yourself a break from the stuff that keeps you anxious. Over time, these techniques, that the apps teach, can be used without the app when you find your stress levels raising. If guided meditation isn't your thing, try taking 10 minutes and set aside quiet time for yourself to try and zone out. Listen to music, stare at a candle flame, just don't let your mind wander back to what is keeping you agitated.
Even if smiling and giggling is the last thing on your mind, try doing it anyway. Laughter truly is the best medicine. In fact, it has been known to reduce anxiety and depression. A simple smile can help pull you out of your dark mood. This is especially important when your kids are around. It's good for the kids to know that its ok to have, and show, hard feelings, but I always like to try to keep things positive for them when I can. Which, in turn, helps me too.
Slow the Eff Down
Life isn't always about deadlines, so unless the house is burning down, take a moment to walk, not rush down the hall. Take your time when you eat lunch and savor the moment. As a work at home mom, I'm inside a lot. I made it a point last year to not be on my phone when walking the kids to or from school. It really lets me enjoy the surroundings and feel like I'm doing something positive for myself and not just handling another chore.
I think essential oils are another great way to slow things down. Even if I just take a few minutes to think about what my body needs (to calm down, some energy, focus) and put an oil blend together for my diffuser, I've gotten myself out of the chair for a few minutes and am thinking mindfully about what I need.
Dealing with anxiety, in these ways, not only helps the worry or pressures of life, but are also great ways to introduce a little bit of “me time” during the day. Ultimately “me time” is self care, whether it's watching reality TV (because you just need to check out and unwind) or trying to calm down a bout of anxiety. And, of course, these will not work for everyone and you may need to see a doctor for medicinal options. What are other ways to deal with anxiety that you use?
Looking for more anxiety self help ideas? Try these posts.