When Anxiety is at Its Worst
I truly don’t know if there is anything worse than the physical and emotional symptoms that I experience when I let myself go down the anxiety rabbit hole. I’m sure some of you can relate…
- Heart palpitations
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in the ears
- Heaviness in the chest
- Distrust of people
- A feeling of being in another world (out of it)
- Feeling like I’m falling or lifting off (can be either of the two tbh)
- Tingles in my limbs and even in my head
I could go on. Some of the symptoms are hard to explain, and although I’m sure that there are legitimate terms for them in the medical world, I don’t feel like I need to document them in such detail because everyone experiences something different when it comes to anxiety and depression. Although so many of us struggle with one or both, I truly do believe that it looks different for each individual – which is why I am such a big advocate for taking the time to dig deeply into yourself and look at WHAT exactly your mental health struggles look like for YOU and what treatments and practices could benefit you the most.
When I experienced my first anxiety attack, I truly couldn’t bring myself out of the negative place that it brought me into. I was stuck in this mental space where I felt like I was in another world – detached emotionally and physically from everything around me. I remember going home for spring break and telling my parents that I felt like I was never ever going to feel normal again because it had been 2 weeks since I had felt like myself.
There is so much that I’ve learned and so many supplements and practices that I’ve experimented with since that first anxiety experience; and not to forget, medication that I’ve been taking on and off since. I’ve come so far from the thought of “I’ll never feel like myself again,” or “I’ll never climb out of this rabbit hole.” But it took a while to get to a place where I could talk myself out of anxiety or calm myself down.
I still go through periods of bad anxiety. Sometimes I completely forget about anxiety, and it’s not even a part of my life! I feel balanced, complete, happy, passionate and like myself. Then, there are other seasons of darkness where my anxiety is more consistently present in my day-to-day life – maybe making my chest tight when I’m trying to fall asleep at night or not allowing me to consume any caffeine because of my natural adrenaline and heightened energy.
Today, when I experience a season of high anxiety or stress, I’m able to remind myself that it won’t last forever and move on with more strength and confidence than I did at age 19.
There are, of course, so many things that you can do when it comes to the heat of an anxious moment. The following tips are things that truly are my crutches in moments of anxiety and panic – coping mechanisms that have made the biggest difference for me in my experience with anxiety. My hope is that some of these can help you, or at least inspire you to figure out methods of your own that will help save you in dark moments.
Remind yourself that there is ALWAYS something that you can do to treat your anxiety.
When I’m going through an anxious season – I remind myself that there is always something that I can do in order to take care of it. Worst case scenario, I remind myself that I can up my medication. I can always visit a therapist or functional practitioner to talk about holistic methods of treatment. I can call all of my friends and family for support. I can journal about it. I can have a glass of wine. I can see a doctor. Etc. There is always SOMETHING that you can do in order to treat anxiety – the medical and wellness industry are full of treatments and ideas! Remembering all of this reminds me that I will be okay.
Make a heavy cup of CBD tea.
I’ve recently been struggling with bedtime anxiety – feeling anxious as soon as I’m laying still with my head on the pillow and the lights turned off. Something that’s been helping me with this is making a warm cup of CBD sleepy-time tea before bed. CBD isn’t psychoactive (it doesn’t contain THC) and comes in a water-soluble form at many health stores or apothecaries. I’ll double my usual dosage and then sip on the tea 15-20 minutes before bedtime. The tea that I love is called Nighty Night and actually includes valerian, which is an anxiety-fighting and sedating herb.
Take L-theanine in supplement form.
L-theanine is an amino acid that’s found in green tea. It provides a sense of calm and relaxation. This is why Matcha gives you such a calming energy instead of a jittery one. I bought a jar of l-theanine off of Amazon and have been taking 200mg every morning and at night before bed as well. 200mg is one serving of the supplement, and if you need to you can explore taking double the amount. It may make you a bit sleepy so I wouldn’t take more than the recommended serving amount during the day.
Call your friends and talk to your family members.
If you’re going through an anxious season, one of the best things that you can do is lean on the people that love you the most for support. Talk to your parents about how you’re feeling, and make an extra effort to talk on the phone with your friends. Keep yourself socially busy and engaged because the more you are open about how you are feeling and the more support that you seek the better you are going to feel. Plus – talking to other people pulls you out of your own head and helps you get into a better mental space. (Being stuck in the dangerous thought cycle triggered by anxiety is the worst!)
Plug in your headphones or play music out loud.
I’ve always been really music-oriented, but until I started teaching spin I didn’t truly realize how therapeutic music could be. I find myself getting lost in music when I’m on and off the bike now, and a lot of times at night I use music to help calm me down. The Calm App (what I use for meditation) has sleep stories and sleep music that I’ll play a lot of times before bed. Otherwise, I have a playlist on Spotify called “Chill Fest,” and I’ll grab a song or two from there and just listen and close my eyes. Music takes your mind off of the present moment a lot of times, and with anxiety it can be good to get out of your headspace for a little.
Sleep underneath some weight.
If you’re like me and don’t own a heavy blanket, then grab one or two thick blankets from around your apartment or house and put them on top of your comforter. Sleeping underneath heaviness produces the sensation of being hugged or held and can actually reduce anxiety and stress. This seriously works for me! I’m hoping to purchase an actual weighted blanket in the future.
I know this is such a common tip for reducing and preventing anxiety, but truly it is such an incredible tool for those of us who get super stuck in our rabbit holes of stress and anxiety. I’m not an expert meditator, and I honestly don’t do it every day; but when I’m going through a really anxious season – you can bet that I’m taking the time to meditate at night before bed and in the mornings. Even if I’m anxious DURING meditation – it’s at least worth it to practice slowing down and getting out of my own head. Once again, Calm App is where it’s at!
I really hope that some of the above tips help those of you who are going through an anxious season or need some encouragement in the mental health space. Remember that there is absolutely NO shame in having or experiencing anxiety, and if you could benefit from talking to a professional – DO IT! Taking care of yourself mentally should be your first priority – even before eating well and exercising. The more that you take care of yourself and love yourself – the better and more vibrant this wild life will be for you!