I've mentioned it before and I'll probably do it again, but man, I hate anxiety. I figured since today is National Stress Awareness Day, that I would share about the topic with you in more depth than I have before. I hope it helps those of you that need this info.
If you've ever experienced anxiety, you know it's not just being a little “stressed out”.
This is what it can feel like for me.
And, it's not always all of these symptoms, but it's always a mish mash.
- My jaw clenches and it hurts.
- My throat can feel tight, like I can't swallow.
- I feel like I have an 800 lb gorilla sitting on my chest.
- My chest gets tight and my heart races – for no reason.
- I get short of breath to the point that I wonder if I'm going to pass out.
- My stomach can turn against me. (And yes, that means you think it means.)
- I have incredible fear and racing thoughts of things that are most likely never in a million years going to happen.
- I can't sleep. I lay in bed and panic. It's hard to sleep when your body is on high alert. It's just not natural to sleep when in fight or flight mode.
- Eating is difficult. I can literally go a week with only a few hundred calories of forced food.
- In extreme cases, I feel like I have fire burning under my skin.
- And as far as getting anything productive done when this is all going on? Not a chance. My brain is racing, too, and gets fuzzy and cloudy and the hope of having any clarity or focus goes out the window.
There are two types of anxiety that I face.
Generalized anxiety. (The “What in the HELL is WRONG with me?!” kind.)
This is where nothing specific is putting me in danger that I can point to. It's just general feelings of some of the things listed above. I can wake up and feel like the gorilla is happily sitting there on my chest looking at me in amusement, even if the sun is shining and I have nothing on my calendar the entire day. There's NO reason that I can see that I should feel this way.
Specific anxiety. (The “Oh THAT'S what I'm freaking about.” kind.)
This is the kind where I know what's making me stress out. For instance, I used to be terrified of flying. I would make myself travel and do it simply because I wanted to get over my “stupid” fear and I wanted to go to fun places. But, the process involved several days of total freakout mode before every trip, usually with tears and possibly stomach issues that you don't want to know about. And then on the plane, during the entire flight, it involved me clenching my buttcheeks for 4 hours straight because apparently that holds the plane up. 😉 The one good thing about it was that it was a heck of a workout. The bad thing is … everything else.
I'm sure you know this kind of anxiety if you get nervous before webinars, if you're trying something a little new that you're stressed about, or if there's something not cool (or downright horrible) going on in your life that you have to deal with. And on a scale from 1 to 10, we all vary on different days in our own ways.
So, why am I writing about this? This is a business blog, right?
Yes it is. And yes I am for a few reasons.
First, I've noticed that a lot of my friends that I network with that have online businesses have suffered from either depression or anxiety or like me, both. So, I know there are plenty of you out there. I oftentimes wonder if this business, because it's “safe” to hide behind a computer attracts more people who have anxiety, or if it's just the people that I interact with.
Second, it's a productivity and success issue. If you're my coaching client and I say “Go do this” and you don't, I need to know why. If it's because you're having major anxiety and you can't think clearly, then we need to figure that out instead of trying to continue brainstorming or talking about other non-issues because you're too embarrassed to let me know what's really happening.
Third. My motto. My dream. My goal in life is to help as many people as I can to Awesomize their Businesses, their Lives, and the World. We can talk about getting more traffic or building your list, but the fact is that it's hard to reach goals when you're stuck in a stage of panic. And, even if you DO push through and have an awesome business, if your life is crap because you feel terrible and stressed out all the time, and you're running around like Chicken Little yelling “the sky is falling” then I question whether that is really what you dream of when you think of success.
So, I'm not a doctor. I don't play one on TV. I never went to medical school. This is just some stuff that I've done that's helped me at some point in time. Some of these things have helped certain times and not others. Some have helped me but not my friends. We are such complex machines with totally different genes. So there's no guarantees and no promises. Take what you want and leave the rest. 🙂 And, yes, I'm walking this path with you, so I am in no way claiming to be THE expert in anxiety. I'm just sharing some things that've worked for me in my experience.
Here are the ways that I say “Adios” to anxiety (or at least lessen it to the point that I'm ready to tackle another day).
1. Taking Action to Do the Scary Thing.
If at all possible, the first thing I do is to see if the thing that's stressing me out is something I'm avoiding tackling. If so, then I immediately know that the cause of the anxiety could be squelched if I just DO the scary thing that I'm avoiding.
Of course, that isn't always possible. BUT – if the source of the fear is, for instance, a webinar that I have coming up, and I'm avoiding creating the PowerPoint slides because I'm overwhelmed, then I KNOW that my anxiety will last as long as I keep putting off the THING that is causing it.
At that point, I usually have to take pen to paper, because sitting and staring at the PowerPoint isn't working. So I'll either take a pen and pad of paper outside and jot down the text / ideas for each slide and the flow OR I'll print out what I have done so far and draw / edit directly on the slides. Then I go back to the computer and it's just a matter of entering the info – which isn't nearly as scary.
That's just one example, but it's a recent one, so I thought I would use it. But the scary thing could also really be scary. Like recently I got called back for a mammogram because of an “area of concern”. So, I needed to call to schedule a diagnostics appointment to diagnose what they saw.
My point is that I was SCARED to make that appointment and it was obviously and rightfully causing me some serious anxiety. Like, no sleep, couldn't think, panic. So, I decided to call and make the freaking appointment and deal with it.
It ended up being nothing. I guess that happens when the techs don't squeeze the girls hard enough during the mammogram. (The diagnostics tech by the way, told me and I'm telling you so you don't end up with the same thing – if you can handle it, tell the tech to SQUEEZE THEM HARD!!! It'll help prevent you from having to go back for a false positive – as they are very common.)
ANYWAY… I digress.
The point is that sometimes doing the scary thing is better than not and dealing with the anxiety instead. (Says the girl who is supposed to go in for a colonoscopy due to family history… and is putting it off.)
So, again, guys, I am not sitting here on a pedestal. I'm next to you, dealing with this. So, yeah. DOING THE THING can be the most effective way of ending that bout of anxiety. Whether it's taxes, filing papers that you don't want to, making a phone call or having a discussion that you don't want to have, or making an appointment to find out the answer for the thing that's scaring you.
However… if that doesn't work or you aren't strong enough yet… then you can also try all of the ideas below, while coming back to the THING as you are able.
And, if there's no thing, obviously you can skip this one this time. But remember it for next time, just in case the cause of your anxiety is something that with a few hours of struggle, you can for real put behind you.
2. Have Sex.
‘Nuff said. But it works. 😉 (…Wiggles eyebrows…)
Music has the power to transform us. For you, it might be blasting AC/DC or Metallica that allows your spinning head to just take a break for a bit. Or it may be Opera. Or perhaps you prefer sitting down and playing an instrument and making your own music.
For me, it's Broadway showtunes. 🙂 When I feel my chest tighten while I'm at my computer, I'll go fold some laundry while Mary Poppins, the Phantom, Maria, Alexander Hamilton, or Glinda is singing to me. It's not a CURE for anxiety, but it does take the edge off long enough that I can recenter sometimes.
This is another reason to have Amazon Prime if you don't yet. They have tons of show tunes you can get on the app and play on your phone. Or if you prefer some country, or christian, classic rock, or zen, they have great music in those genres, too.
4. Avoid the Thing.
So #1 was to deal with the thing that is stressing you out if at all possible. But sometimes, if the thing is a person or a situation that you can't control at the moment, then it's ok to avoid it for a period of time if you need to. Whether it's a negative, toxic person, or a negative, toxic situation – if you need to avoid it and you CAN avoid it, then do so without any guilt at all. Yes, even if that person is your sibling or a co-worker, you can limit the contact to manage the situation until you can deal with it. Give yourself grace to avoid the stress or at least limit it as much as you can. There's no reason why you should suffer.
Of course, our end goal is to be able to be around the negative and toxic people but have our own happy bubble of self-esteem and personal development around us that allows us to let it bounce right off. Some days my bubble is strong. Other days it's not. I'm working on it. And I hope you are working on yours, too. Hugs.
5. Limit Caffeine, Gluten, Sugar, Alcohol, and Dairy.
I know, BOO! Right? I don't always eat perfectly, and when I don't I can tell. The good news is that when I avoid gluten, sugar (including my beloved wine), and dairy, I also lose weight. So, less anxiety and lose a few inches. SCORE! 🙂
For instance, I love wine. But I also know that having a few glasses, while it SEEMS like it's helping for a few hours, just makes my anxiety worse, for me in the long run. And, I love having cream in my coffee. But… I don't. Because I know, for me, it adds to inflammation, which makes me feel yuck and the anxiety gets worse. So, there's that. Take it or leave it. It's just my experience. It may not be yours. Just keep an eye on it because the information is helpful and it's good to know what triggers you, in case you need to pull out all the stops.
Honestly, even if you are dealing with a real life situation that's real that's causing anxiety, if it feels like you can't get on top of it no matter what you do, you might consider getting rid of the foods that make your brain have to work harder to stay calm – at least until the situation is resolved. Who knows? Maybe like me you'll find it motivating enough to avoid some of those foods forever.
A lot of people apparently have significantly less anxiety on the Whole30 which is how I lost 30 lbs last January. It really does help my mood to eat this way, too.
- It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways (book)
- Whole30 for Beginners (website)
6. Be a Kid for a Bit.
I talk about in the Awesomization Nation 30 Day Challenge. Sometimes there's nothing that feels better than going to the park and hopping on a swing, and just swinging for a bit. Let the wind blow through your hair and go back in time to a day when you didn't have the worries of work, bills, appointments, and taking care of a family.
I also love nothing more than going on a bike ride. Again, the wind blowing across my skin and not a care in the world.
What could feel better when you're feeling tied down by obligations than taking time to be completely and totally FREE?
I recommend it. It's a good sanity break.
What else makes YOU feel like a kid again?
Jumping on your trampoline? Blowing bubbles? Grabbing a hoola hoop? Doing a cannonball off the diving board into the swimming pool?
Who cares what you look like. Go do it.
7. Ladies – Track your Anxiety to See if It's Tied to Hormones. (Oh no she didn't!)
I know… “Since when is Nik talking about periods on her blog? Isn't this about business?” Yes, but I'm still going to do it. Because I know that it affects ME. And it's my blog so I get to do what I want. 🙂
I schedule my creative work like any important writing that I want to get done to work on during certain weeks of the month, because it's easier. (OMG… I'm so tempted to say that it flows better, but I wont.)
For me, my anxiety spikes with PMS. I have it other times of the month and it can be mild to severe, but I KNOW that from day 14 through day 28, I'm usually on a downhill spiral and I need to pull out all of the stops to get through it. And that's my point. If you're not tracking it, when the bad days (and weeks) come, you may think that it'll never end. However, if you're tracking the days, then you can look at your calendar and realize that there IS a light at the end of the funnel and it's not a train heading right at you. It's a relief. At least for a few weeks.
So, yes, I pull out all of the stops during this time, covering myself in essential oils, until I'm afraid to lay on anything because I might slide right off. And side benefit: the smells make the dogs try to rub all over me like I'm a dead squirrel… THANKS BOYS.
I also try to be extra good with the eating part above during this time – which some days I do well, and other times, I say “F” it and drink a bottle of wine (or maybe a bottle and a half), flop into bed, and cry.
There is one side benefit of tracking this. If your anxiety is truly made worse by your hormones, that's something you can work on. Chat with your doc about it, of course, since again, I'm not one. But there are also ways to work on balancing your hormones naturally. (Diet is one.)
8. You can't be stressed if you're covered with kittens, or puppies, or babies.
Snuggle an animal or borrow a baby for a bit. Like legally and stuff. 🙂
Smell the sweet heads. Close your eyes and let the Puppy Xanax (or as I call it Panax) take effect. Continue as needed.
I do this with my three big boys. I climb into bed for a few minutes, and all 200+ lbs of them jump in with me and get as close to me as they can. Then they do that weird circle and they flop down, happy. I get my Panax fit and then am mostly ready to face life again. OR I take a nap and then tackle the world.
9. Supplemental Help.
Speaking of treating things naturally, I do take some supplements that help. Again, I'm not a doctor so talk to yours first.
- Multi-Vitamin – I like the Garden of Life brand because it's whole food based, but choose your favorite.
- Curcumin – Turmeric is a good anti-inflammatory. So I take it. Not every day, but especially if I don't eat well to help “un-inflame” me.
Also, I read the book called The Mood Cure a few years ago, and have now bought it 4 times because my copy keeps ending up going home with friends.
Basically, according to her, there are 4 main chemicals in our brains that can get deficient. And each type of anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication is formulated to bring up the levels in one area of the brain. But there are also ways to supplement to bring them up, too. So there's a quiz to see which ones you might be deficient in. Then the book goes through several ways you can work on healing that part of the brain.
IMPORTANT: If you're currently on any meds, she recommends not doing anything until you talk with a doc. And, of course, you always should talk with your doc, assuming you have a doc that will listen.
Personally, I added a few of her suggestions that I felt were safe after I researched them. I avoided some of her recommendations that had potential side affects or aversions. I do not take all of these every day, but I do regularly.
- I upped my Omega 3s quite a bit. I DEFINITELY notice a difference when I take my fish oil verses when I don't. In fact, I sent a bottle to college with my son with instructions to take it morning and night and he texted me “I had something happen today that would normally really stress me out, and it didn't.”
- Magnesium – Some of the vitamins include magnesium so I don't always take it but I will take it before bed if I feel a little agitated. I like Natural Vitality Calm. There are a variety of flavors. IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: Start small if you take this. It has the side benefit of helping you to poop. So, don't drink a bunch of it before a meeting or something. I don't want you (or the people in the meeting) to hate me.
- Increased my Vitamin D (after another blood test) to get it into optimal range. (Garden of Life)
- Added Calcium (Garden of Life)
- Am taking a few relaxing aminos that she recommends. (L-theanine and GABA and a few others – I just looked around for a few blends that had them and picked one that looked good.) I only take these later in the day.
- The Mood Cure – There are other books along these lines on Amazon that are diets specifically for anxiety. I just really like this one.
- Natural Vitality Calm – variety of flavors and remember my warning about the side effect
10. Support isn't Just for your Boobs.
I get by with a little (LOT) of help from my friends.
I honestly don't even know where to begin with this section. I am so unbelievably blessed with the best friends on earth who love me despite my flaws, and support me and LIKE me, even when I don't like myself, when I feel broken, and when I feel unlovable.
If you don't have the support of a community of people who understand the unique struggles of the heart of an entrepreneur, I wish that very much for you.
Here are the places that I've hung out and where I recommend myself:
- Earn1kaDay – Dennis Becker's forum is a very helpful and supportive place to connect with other marketers. This is pretty “online marketing” heavy so it's perfect for you if you identify with that group most.
Beachpreneurs (Ladies Only) – Our Beach events are all about connection. I would love for you to consider attending one of them if you are a female entrepreneur. We have three separate types of events.
- Beach Camp – This is a hotel event that's held in Daytona Beach. It's for anyone at any level. We do topic tables and have speakers, and you'll have all kinds of time to enjoy the beach with your new friends.
- Beach House – Our Mastermind Retreat is held in Pensacola Beach, Florida and it's by application because we'll all be in the same house for a few days together. (Max 15 women including me and Kelly and our facilitator.)
- Beach Cottage – This Done-with-You Retreat is held in various locations and it's me, Kelly, and one or two Virtual Assistants plus 2-4 guests. We dig into your business and tackle one area that will best impact your business for the next six months. Whether that's setting up your lists and a plan for mailing them, implementing your affiliate program, drawing out your funnels, or coming up with a content strategy, we're all yours. There's plenty of time for sushi and beach in between. (Contact Kelly if you're interested in more information here.)
On the same front, sometimes friends isn't what you need, but you still need support in other ways. If that's the case, you might consider a coach. HOWEVER, while there are tons of great coaches, there are a lot of abusive and scary coaches out there, too. So please choose carefully.
Here are some recommendations if you're in the market.
- Me. I specialize in helping infoproduct sellers to multiple their marketing. So if you have 1. a passion and an audience (but no product yet), or 2. a product that's making some sales but you don't have a big enough audience yet, or 3. both but you're not making enough sales, I might be the perfect person for you. I only work with 5 people max at any time, and you can see exactly what I do and who I work with here.
- Kelly McCausey. My dear friend, Kelly, is AMAZING at helping you to get clarity on your business, plan your content, and/or build your community.
- Paul Evans. I just adore Paul. He's got a simple, super smart, straight shooting way about him that is endearing to me. I've hired him for coaching over the years and he's been very generous with his time and knowledge. I recommend him 100% if you feel he's the right fit for you.
Yes, Coloring. Like taking your hand and coloring on paper, with a crayon, pencil or marker. That kind of coloring. It is very relaxing to a lot of adults. So it might be worth a try.
The cool thing is that it's the new trend for adults, so you're hip when you relax and chill for awhile and color. Who knew?
- Download these free coloring pages.
- And this fun one from Leonie Dawson, too. (you'll find it on that page)
- These are the pens I use to color.
If coloring isn't your thing, I hear knitting has the same effect. 🙂 Heads up: You may spend a lot of money if you get addicted to yarn. You've been warned.
12. Hire out your stress.
If you've been following me for more than a day you probably know that I've been called the Queen of Outsourcing as one of my nicknames. The Queen of Passive Income, too, but we'll save that for another post.
So what do I outsource? Anything and everything that I can that makes sense to do so.
I write my own blog posts and emails. I do my own networking. I parent my kids. I snuggle my own sexy husband.
However, I outsource pretty much everything else that I can.
Customer support? Yes.
It's funny. I was spending literally hours every day on my own customer support back in 2006. I outsourced it and my bill the first month was $30. Yes, that's THIRTY dollars, not a typo. It became very obvious very quickly that I am one to chase rabbit trails apparently. So, I spent $1/day to get hours back. Worth it? YEAH.
If you don't have the funds right not to outsource the big stuff, then outsource the small stuff without guilt.
Buy a rotisserie chicken for dinner and a bagged salad instead of cooking from scratch if it makes your life easier. WITHOUT guilt. If it eases your anxiety levels a bit and feeds your family decent food, then it's a win-win for sure. SCORE one for you!
I'll be writing a big post about how to outsource on the cheap soon. It's in the works. But for right now, embrace shortcuts. Shortcuts are your friends. I sure do.
13. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
EFT is also known as Tapping. I don't know a whole lot about it other than it's worked for me a few times in the past and I want more of that. What it looks like (and please forgive me as I am not an expert) is a bit odd to see. But you talk out loud about whatever issue you have while tapping with your fingers on the side of your hand, the top of your head, various places on your face, your collarbone, and under your arm. It is like counseling meets acupressure.
I don't know all of the things it can work with, but I'm personally working on anxiety and fears, self-worth, and letting go of old hurts so far. And I'm looking forward to seeing what other YUCKY stuff I can drop off my back, too.
- Ingrid Dinter – Free EFT Manual (click on the cover on that page). She's amazing. While you can do EFT on your own, after Ingrid and I did a session a few years ago, I hired her to do some private sessions with me during a particularly hard time and it really helped a lot. It helps to have someone listen and work directly with your exact issue. I can't wait until our next session. I immediately noticed a physical difference in my jaw, where I normally clench and hold tension most of the time. It's not perfect yet, but it's a lot better than it was.
- Background and Science Behind EFT – That'll give you an idea of what it is and why it works.
- Basics of EFT – Some more basic info if you have no idea what I'm talking about.
14. Essential Oils: They Don't Just Smell Good.
Essential oils help me to relax and focus while I’m working. They also help me unwind at night so I can fall sleep. I'm also using them to help me to balance my hormones. And yes, they smell good, too. 🙂
I use them in two main ways. (And, no I'm not a licensed Aromatherapist, either, so do your own research.)
I love applying oils on me. In fact, it's the way that I get the most noticeable results. Of course, you should always dilute your essential oils in some sort of plain oil. (It's called a carrier oil, like a carrier pigeon. It's mean to carry the oils into your body safely.)
I will also put a few drops into some epsom salts and then put it into my bathwater. The salts help so that the oil doesn't just float on top, plus they also help you to relax. Major benefit is that you can then breathe it in the entire bath.
A few items of caution:
- Some oils are “hot” oils. If you put them on without a carrier oil, they will sting. Don't do that.
- Certain oils are photosensitive which means that, if you put them on your skin, and then go into the sun, you can get some weird brown spots. Don't do that.
Other than that, have fun!
(What's that called when you diffuse oils? Someone will let me know, I'm sure. OH Aromatherapy!!!)
I also diffuse oils on occasion, but I don't love it as much. I usually reserve that for when I'm sick and I want to do peppermint and lemon to help me breathe.
But we're talking about mood. And so I do sometimes load up the diffuser with water and an oil or a few of them that I know are relaxing ones and let ‘er rip.
I like it. It makes me feel like I'm doing something nice for myself and it does make me relax some. Perhaps I'm just not the patient type and I prefer to just slather some on.
I also make a spray that I can use before I go into the shower. I have a small amber bottle with a sprayer, and I put a bit of vodka in the bottom (to disperse the oils once the water is added), 10-20 drops of whatever oils I want, then I add distilled water to it. I spray the air before I get into the shower and it makes for a nice spa experience.
One other interesting use. You can purchase jewelry that is made for oils to be applied. For instance, I have a necklace with a piece of fabric inside to put oils on. I wear it sometimes when I speak, so before I go on, I can do a deep breathe through my nose to relax and get ready to rock and roll.
- Clary Sage (This is one that I also use to help balance my hormones, when necessary.)
- Ylang Ylang
- Bergamot (It's weird, but I literally can not smell this one. But it's supposed to smell good.)
And pretty much any blend that has any of those in it.
- I use these oils. I have for several years and am a distributor. But you can use your favorite brand. 🙂 Just do your research and make sure they're safe. I wouldn't get them at Walmart, but there are lots of awesome places to get safe and effective oils.
15. Grab a Glass of Water or Tea.
From my research, most people are chronically dehydrated, and that can contribute to anxiety.
So why risk it? If you're feeling anxiety building, take a moment and make yourself a nice decaf cuppa herbal tea. Chamomile, anyone?
- Tazo Herbal Teas on Amazon Prime (Target also has this brand.)
16. Slow it Down.
This is one of my favorite quotes and I hope I've got it attributed correctly:
“In an age of speed, I began to think, nothing could be more invigorating than going slow.
In an age of distraction, nothing can feel more luxurious than paying attention.
And in an age of constant movement, nothing is more urgent than sitting still.
You can go on vacation to Hawaii or New Orleans three months from now, and you’ll have a tremendous time, I’m sure.
But if you want to come back feeling new – alive and full of fresh hope and in love with the world – I think the place to visit may be Nowhere.”
~ Pico Iyer, The Art of Stillness
Along those lines, two of my new favorite things are yoga and meditation. Actually, yoga isn't really new to me. I've just recently decided to really make it a part of my life again. By next April, I will actually be a yoga teacher. I'm going through the training now.
However, if you're not into yoga and meditation, then replace this section with prayer or whatever makes you happy. 🙂 I'm easy.
- If you're interested in trying meditation, I like this free 30 day meditation series.
- If you're interested in trying yoga, they also have a 30 day program for beginners, too.
17. Sweat it out.
As I mentioned, I've been doing a lot of yoga lately and am in training to become a yoga instructor. What you may not know is that there are a lot of different types of yoga. There's more of a mellow (zen) yoga and there's “OMG I'M COVERED IN SWEAT AND EVERYTHING HURTS” yoga.
To me, both help alleviate anxiety in different ways.
For the mellow yoga, there's a lot of soft music, stretching, and sometimes a nice head massage at the end (YAY!). I leave there feeling relaxed and ready to face my day.
But sometimes, I need to sweat out the stress. I go to hot yoga class and prepare to pour sweat out of my body for an hour. When I leave, I have no energy to be stressed. I literally left it all on the mat. All I can do from there is drink water, take a soapy shower, and then I'm too tired to be stressed, so I can actually get some things done that I need to focus on.
So, if you're feeling a lot of anxiety, hit the sauna or hit the gym or go on a run. You might come back and feel like you have some clarity and calm that you've been seeking.
18. Laugh it Out.
Give yourself a bit to just laugh. It truly is good medicine.
Either grab a funny book on Audible, turn on Amazon Instant Music to the Comedy section, or watch a favorite movie.
Here are some of the movies I turn to when I need a good laugh. I like slapstick, so yours may be very different:
- RV with Robin Williams
- Groundhog's Day
- Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
- Happy Gilmore
- City Slickers
- The Jerk
- Napoleon Dynamite (You'll either love this or hate it.)
- Young Frankenstein
- National Lampoon's Vacation
- National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation
- Most Monty Python Movies
I'm sure I'm missing some of my favorites, and, like I said, yours may be totally different. That's awesome, too. I would love to know, though, in the comments.
If you still don't feel better, invite some friends over and play a ridiculous card game, try on old prom dresses, have one of those passion parties (where you get to pretend to look confused and say “THAT'S supposed to go WHERE?”), or have them bring over a movie that you can watch together. If that doesn't work, pull out your old high school yearbooks. Those are always good for a laugh.
19. Focus Outwards.
With depression, this works really well, but most people don't think of it for anxiety, too. It works for both, in my experience.
When I'm having a hard time with anxiety, it's usually me focusing on ME. So, if I can turn my focus on helping others, then I'm less able to ruminate and obsess about my own stuff because I'm busy helping someone else.
This is a great time to go volunteer or reach out to someone who you know is lonely or could use your help. Try it. What's the worst that can happen? You make someone's day?
20. Fill your Brain with So Much Positivity that The Negative Can't Get In.
Have you ever had someone pull the old “Don't think about a White Elephant” trick on you? There's a special place in hell for those people. Oh crap. I just did it. Never mind…
Anyway, once someone tells you not to think of something, you can't help but think of it and you really start to think you're going to have a white elephant in your head for the rest of your life. UNLESS…
You simply choose to replace that thought with another one.
So if you tell yourself “Self, I'm tired of White Elephants. I would really like to think about a pink bunny instead…”
VOILA! Like magic. You pulled a pink bunny out of your hat.
The same works with “ear worms”. Songs that get stuck into your head, like, for instance, “Karma Chameleon”. Oh crap. I did it again.
So how do you get it out of your head? You don't. Ever.
I'm a man without conviction
I'm a man who doesn't know
How to sell a contradiction
You come and go
You come and go
Take a sec and think of a different song, if you must. Then continue. 🙂
So how does this apply to anxiety?
I believe that the same effect is in place.
If our brains are filled with negative stuff and we have that negative pattern stuck on replay, we have to actively and intentionally do two things to stay happy and calm.
- Filter some of the bad from going in.
- Replace it with good stuff.
Whatever that is for you. I choose to fill my brain with good stuff.
For me? I've customized my Facebook feed so that I don't see most of the yucky stuff that was coming through. It's completely cleaned – and I like it that way. If I do see a friend post something that I don't like, I click “I don't want to see this” and then I don't have to. I don't watch the news or CSI or horror movies or Dateline. I don't go to sites that make my anxiety worse. I protect myself from the things that add to my anxiety. That's not to say I'm totally sheltered. I read news stories. I just don't watch them on TV.
Then I add in awesome stuff. I read and listen to a lot of personal development and I enjoy surrounding myself with positive stories and people.
What makes your heart happy?
Inspirational stories, podcasts about successful and happy things, the bible, affirmations.
You do YOU. Whatever lifts and grounds you… Read or listen to that. Flood your brain with so much postive that there's no room for negative to sneak in.
Or as T Harv Eker explained in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind and I'm going to paraphrase this.
We will all face problems that are big in life. All of us. That's part of life. We can't control that. What we CAN control, however, is how big WE are when facing them. How STRONG we are. How many TOOLS we have to deal with them.
If we grow bigger than any problem that we might face, it will seem small in comparison. That should be our goal. 🙂
Pretty cool, right?
21. Get outside. Anxiety hates fresh air.
We already talked about going to the park and swinging or going on a bike ride and feeling like a kid again. One part of why that works so well, is because it brings us back to a simpler time in our lives.
The other reason it works is that fresh air is magic pixie dust and anxiety fears it.
So go outside and head to your favorite place.
Love the water? Then go! If you have a lake, pond, creek, or beach near you. Sit and chill for a while. Don't take your work with you. Just sit. Or walk or run or skip or salsa or do a hand-stand against a tree or bring a SUP or kayak and paddle around.
I don't care. Just get fresh air. (Ok. Now, I'm challenging my inner Dr. Seuss.)
Or heck, find a fountain downtown and just sit and stare at it. No agenda other than to escape safely for a bit.
If water isn't your thing, start a fire in your fireplace, a little campfire in your backyard, or light a candle and just look at the flame awhile.
Or head into the mountains if that's what relaxes you.
Don't like to sit still? Then go to a beautiful place and go on a walk. Don't just “go on a walk” around your neighborhood. Take the extra 10 minutes to drive somewhere you LOVE and go on a walk there. Take deep breaths, listen to the birds, or whatever makes you happy. Just enjoy the experience, rejuvenate and come back, hopefully less anxious.
Really go. YOUR health is more important than anything on your to do list. Trust me.
Sound silly? This is a much healthier choice and has less calories than eating to escape or drinking to escape, so just do it.
22. Get help.
Of course, I would be totally irresponsible if I didn't say that sometimes we need to get help from someone who is qualified to help. A mental health professional, a doctor to get some meds, etc. Whether it's short term or long term help, get it without a moment's hesitation. If you feel unsafe, then obviously call 911. Because we can undo a lot of stuff, but some things we can't and you matter too much to continue to suffer and not be able to be your awesomest self.
23. Sometimes you just need to hide from it all for a bit. And that's ok.
On the occasion that you've tried the things above and you still feel like you can't shake it, then it's time to put on something comfy, grab a pillow and the snuggliest blanket you can find and go flop somewhere and hide from life for a bit.
- Read a good book.
- Watch something on Netflix (but don't go binging days away… I know us)
- Take a nap.
- Cuddle a puppy.
With big hugs.
PS. I would love to hear your favorite stress and anxiety reducing tricks. And please share this post if you loved it. <3 Thank you!