What has helped my anxiety
I’m not a doctor. Simply compiling everything that’s been helpful for my anxiety and wish someone had told me this information years ago. I’ve posted this on a few other threads but wanted as many people to see it as possible. Apologizing in advance for formatting and length. But please give it a go. Some of the information could be really helpful!
Background: Got diagnosed with GAD and OCD a while back and have been dealing with anxiety as far back as I can remember. Was on 10mg of Lexapro once a day for a year and a half. While it helped me get through some really tough life shit, the withdrawal, in my opinion, was not worth it. However, this isn’t the case for everyone so do what feels right for you! Anyways, here’s the meat:
1) Diet -Cutting out processed sugars and starches has made a huge difference. I've noticed that when I consume said foods, my anxiety "brain fog" and depersonalization/derealization gets significantly worse. However, starches can be hard to give up completely. As a fellow carbosaurus, I understand the struggle. I found that replacing white bread with wheat bread has really helped. Wheat pasta is a good substitute too, and there isn’t (in my opinion) a huge taste difference. Also, brown rice instead of white rice. White rice has a high glycemic index and can spike your blood sugar, which leads me to my next point -->
-Low blood sugar can play a huge part in anxiety. Snacking on protein rich foods every few hours can help this. I carry around a bag of bulk cashews to snack on in case I can’t access other food. Most grocery stores now offer those one-serving packets of peanut butter and almond butter, which are so convenient to carry around with you. Slim enough for a pocket even!
-Speaking of sugar, even artificial sweeteners (Sucralose, Saccharin, etc.) have been shown to heighten anxiety. These can be found in diet sodas, low fat foods, gum, and even dairy items to name a few. Honey or agave nectar can be good substitutes. BONUS: Consuming local honey exposes you to allergens in your area, which can help with allergies!
-Eliminating all beverages except water. Caffeinated and/or sugary drinks are basically the devil when it comes to anxiety so I'd cut back on those if it's hard to eliminate all together.
-Alcohol and other drugs can cause anxiety to soar. I've noticed after a night of drinking my depression and anxiety sky rockets.
-Daily Omega. I take two Omega 3-6-9 blend fish oil pills every day and can notice a difference if I don't take them for a week.
-Magnesium glycinate supplements have been said to work for a lot of people. Be careful though because certain magnesium supplements can cause explosive diarrhea💩
-There’s still debate on this one but salt. Apparently in the refining process of table salt, it gets stripped of minerals and trace elements. Pink Himalayan crystal salt contains 84 minerals and trace elements. Some people even add a tiny sprinkle to their water bottle every day. If you want to try this, be careful not to overdo it as salt can cause uncomfortable bloating.
2) Meditation CAN'T SAY THIS ENOUGH
-No exaggeration, this in combination with a fixed diet has been my savior. I feel so good I can't go back to living without meditation.
-You don't have to be a guru hippy Mother Earth child to benefit from meditation or even learn how to meditate. There is an app called Headspace that provides excellent guided meditation highly recommended
-Another user told me about an app called Breathe. From what I've read it's provided people with relief and is a great meditation tool. I’d recommend looking into both Headspace and Breathe, as people will always have a preference.
-Guided meditations are great but it's important to know how to meditate in silence as well (you won't always have access to your smart phone for a meditation app). When I do this I set a timer for 10 minutes on my phone. I'll take five deep breaths (in through nose, out through mouth) and then close my eyes on the last breath out. Begin to breathe normally. I'll then focus on my breaths, counting to ten, and then start back at one. Side note: It's okay to lose focus! And tell yourself that when you realize you're not counting breaths anymore. "Oh, my mind went off track and that's okay. I'm going to focus on my breaths again" and resume counting. I've been meditating for six months now and still get sidetracked frequently.
-Simple breathing. Whenever I feel the anxiety/nervousness/worry/etc. increasing, I'll go to the bathroom or another private place where I can sit in silence and count my breaths. This works as a good checkpoint through out the day, as I can try to "refocus" my mind.
-Yay therapy! I’ve been in therapy for the past 13 years. It has literally saved my life countless times. Therapy is beneficial for EVERYONE, especially those of us who suffer from anxiety.
-I know some people have a hard time fitting therapy into their schedules or due to financial reasons (right there with you). A quick google search of "best online counseling services" ought to do the trick.
-Not sure how it is in other countries but in America most colleges (and probably some high schools) provide free counseling services. These are real counselors and legally cannot contact your teachers, peers, or employers. Also, if you are nervous about your peers seeing you at the counseling center, think about that for a second. You are seeing them at the counseling center. Chances are they are also there for counseling. This can create an immediate and intimate bond between you guys, and maybe even someone to talk to about what's going on in your head.
-For those afraid or who get anxiety about going to a counselor/therapist: Therapists are genuinely caring people. Most of them became therapists because they themselves have struggled with some sort of mental illness and/or a traumatic event. And they are legally required to maintain the integrity of your conversations, meaning they won’t talk to people in your life or others about what you say. Everything you say is confidential. (That is unless you talk about harming yourself or others). I cannot stress how wonderful it feels to have someone in your life whose sole purpose is to listen to you vent about your feelings. One of our basic needs as humans is to feel heard. When we get that need met, we feel acknowledged and loved. This can mean all the world when it feels like no one in your life listens and/or understands the intensity of your anxiety.
-Bring that pen to paper and vomit out all of your fears, angers, frustrations, sorrows, etc. Sometimes our anxiety gets stuck, and when we give it an outlet, it can make all the difference.
-Writing virtually is good but I’ve found that the act of physically writing out my emotions is so meaningful, and I feel a higher connection with my mental and emotional body.
-In a previous thread I posted this information in, some people mentioned they didn’t like reading their emotions because it made them feel guilty, angry, etc. It is okay to feel these emotions! BURN THE PAPER. Seriously. Burn. That. Shit. Up. Tear it up. Watch it go through a shredder. This is therapeutic! Feel like I have to say this—make sure if you do decide to go the burn route that you do it outside in a receptacle that can handle the heat!
-There are a number of very helpful anxiety podcasts. I'd recommend The Anxiety Coach's Podcast. There are two new episodes each week (Wednesdays and Sundays) that somehow relate to anxiety. The host provides listeners with MANY tools for helping with anxiety, as well as an extremely diverse range of topics. I've found that even episodes I don't think apply to my anxiety have always consisted of useful information and helpful tricks.
-Other good podcasts include Anxiety Slayer, Anxiety Guru, The Anxiety Podcast, and The Anxiety Guy. Just like the meditation apps, give them all a try! If you don’t like one you’ll probably like another one more
-GO OUTSIDE. Studies have proven time and time again that even just sitting in nature and hearing the sounds it has to offer lower cortisol levels (stress hormone)
-Yoga. Any type is beneficial! I've found the most anxiety relief from Restorative Yoga. The whole class consists of three poses (they aren't super complex yogi stances, usually lying on your back in a certain way)
-Cardio is great for "happy" hormone production.
-It's important to note which types of exercise make YOU feel good, as it's not the same for everyone. For example, running is great for you but if it's physically hurting your knees, ankles, etc. it's probably not the best for you. There's always a different form of exercise, and fortunately all types of exercise result in decreased anxiety! Any type of movement is better than no movement when it comes to anxiety :)
-Anxiety can be fucking torture. There is nothing worse than feeling like a prisoner to your own mind. Medication can definitely help soften this, especially if you are feeling like you can no longer go on.
-Research your options. Talk to people you know who are taking something about what they like/don’t like about being medicated. Read reviews. Read side effects (this might not be helpful if you are extremely prone to the placebo effect or have health anxiety).
-READ ABOUT WITHDRAWAL. Once again, I am all for medication if you feel it is right for you. When I decided to go on Lexapro, I was 100% sure I wanted to. What I do regret is not researching withdrawal. Not only did I experience two weeks’ worth of physical symptoms (night sweats, racing heart) but also experienced severe depression and anxiety that was far worse than what I’d experienced before going on it. I also have social anxiety now which I didn’t have before. Anyways, the point of this is to research, research, research, and know your options!
"You Are the One" by Kute Blackson is an inspirational read for anyone with anxiety
-Posture makes a difference. Sitting up straight builds self-confidence and becomes easier with time
-Write down quotes or phrases or mantras or whatever makes you feel good and hang them up in places where you’ll see them frequently. Bathroom mirrors and inside front door are two really good places I utilize regularly. You can even write down reminders of why you’re working on your anxiety.
-PM me if you ever need someone to talk to! I’m in the process of becoming a therapist myself so please please please contact me if you need to talk. I will not judge you and love to listen. Anxiety doesn’t need to be a social taboo.
It's important to note that working on your anxiety is a process. There's not one thing that is a magic cure-all. You'll have great days, weeks even, and then not-so-great days. It's crucial to remember that the down days don't last forever. And as a reminder, be extremely gentle with yourself. It is okay to feel other emotions besides happiness. This may sound weird but welcome them. Allow them to be. The more you resist them the harder and stronger they’ll come back.
Once again, please feel free to PM me if you need to talk/vent. Best of luck to you on your journey and thanks for reading!