“Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all, it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.” – Ali Ibn Abi Talib
If you’re anything like me – chances are you would have experienced anxiety first-hand. Believe me, it’s not a pretty picture. It’s like being constantly exposed to an unknown threat lingering around the corner, just waiting to get you.
I lived with anxiety for a couple of years and it got to the point where my mind started manifesting it in the form of dreams about planes crashing and burning. The dreams seemed bizarrely real. At first, I ignored it. But, then it became a regular thing. I would have the same dream over and over. That’s when I realized something needed to be done.
I researched the topic and made some major changes in my lifestyle. Now, it’s been over 2 years since I had that dream. My anxiety is in check, almost as if it’s gone for good. And, believe me, I don’t miss it.
With that said, I would love to share my pearls of wisdom and things that helped me in my darkest of moments.
1. Avoid Watching Depressing/Horror Movies
I remember watching 2 entire seasons of ‘The Walking Dead’ back to back. The show is an epic dose of anxiety. I’m sorry if you’re a fan of the show, but it’s the truth. You know what watching this show did to me? It amplified my anxiety. My eyes started twitching, my body would feel a jolt of electricity in the middle of the night, my vision got blurry; all the symptoms of hyper-anxiety. This time I knew exactly what I was doing wrong. So, I made it a point never to watch horror or depressing shows. I only watch light heart movies or comedy shows. They are so much better for the mind.
2. Re-evaluate Your Life Goals
We all want to own a big house, get that dream car, and travel the world, and there’s nothing wrong with having a desire for decadence and luxury. But, if trying to achieve these goals is taking a toll on your mental health, and sending your brain into overdrive – you might want to slow things down. Go slowly but surely. Do not try to take on more responsibilities than you can handle. There’s nothing wrong with giving yourself a break every once in a while. Believe me, it comes from personal experience.
3. Take Deep Breaths
It’s common knowledge that one of the contributory factors behind anxiety is the lack of oxygen supply to the brain. Ever noticed when we are stressed or anxious our breathing becomes short? We’re not taking enough oxygen as we’re supposed to. So, the next time you find yourself breaking a sweat, take a moment and take long deep breaths. I promise you, you will instantly and find yourself feeling better. That’s what oxygen does to you.
4. Try Mindfulness
Observe things around you. The texture of the walls. The feel of water washing down your throat. The color of the drapes. Now imagine yourself in your dream place. Close your eyes and focus on what you’re thinking. Now think what you want to think – a happy, anxiety-free life living in your dream home. If you can do this exercise even for a good 5 minutes, that should be enough to help rid you of the anxiety. Mindfulness keeps you more aware of your thoughts and feelings so you can better manage them.
5. Cut Back On Daily Caffeine Consumption
Check out this study conducted on 234 middle school students meant to assess the relationship between caffeine intake and stress, anxiety, depression, and sleeplessness. The findings of this study make it abundantly clear how excess caffeine intake can send your brain into overdrive. Caffeine is known to increase blood pressure and make you more reactive. As a result, you feel more anxious and fearful. If you really want to kick anxiety for good, do yourself a favor and try to cut back on caffeine consumption as much as you can.
6. Drink Herbal Teas
Hot beverages naturally tend to have a relaxing effect on the nerves. Therefore, it shouldn’t be surprising that green teas especially those made from dandelion and chamomile will relax you. It’s a common practice to consume chamomile tea right before bed to help sleep better. You could try out a few herbal teas until you stumble upon your favorite one. You could also try making an herbal tea from green kratom powder. It’s a natural relaxant which also helps with anxiety and stress. Kratom powder is easily available online so you shouldn’t have a hard time finding it.
7. Get a Good Night’s Rest
Never take sleep for granted. It’s not a luxury but a necessity and it’s paramount that you sleep for at least 7 hours. But, don’t just focus on the length; aim for good sleep. Disturbed sleep is no good even if you slept for 9 hours. So, it’s best to ditch your phone right before bed, close your eyes, and do a little meditation. You could even experiment with a little mindfulness. A tired body is cranky, more prone to anger, irritation, and depression. All that will ultimately translate into frequent anxiety episodes. You could also try putting on some relaxing music to help sleep faster.
8. Take One Day At a Time
Remember, it took a long time for your anxiety to build up and reach where it is today. So, it’s unnatural to try and reverse the pace of time in one day. It’s going to take a while before things start to turn around. The important thing is to remember that they will. Practice perseverance. You cannot master your whole life in a day. But, you CAN master the day. Just keep doing that every single day.
Let me just say that anxiety is your body’s way of telling that something needs to be changed. Our bodies are intelligent. In the event of a crisis, it tries to safeguard us from the threat. Anxiety is nothing but our body’s defense-mechanism So, instead of dreading it – listen to what it’s trying to tell you and do what needs to be done. Things will fall into places.