So a few weeks ago I had to fly out to Los Angeles for work. I was asked to moderate a panel and discuss the power of storytelling. Sounds wonderful right? HELL NO! I was extremely anxious about flying (not a fan of that) and the last time I was out of town on a work trip, I had a damn anxiety attack in a meeting and had to go to the hospital. So yeah, I was NOT excited about this trip. But fast forward to today, I’m back from my trip and everything went well! Praise the lord!
Since my last work trip I have been dedicated to making a few necessary changes in my life and even took a trip to the doctor to get a prescription for my anxiety. Honestly, that was a wakeup call for me. After trying the Prescription medication (for a day) I knew it wasn't the route I was trying to take. So I changed up my habits and have been attack free for a few months now.
Since I know I’m not the only one dealing with anxiety, I thought I would share some things I do that have helped me out. And hopefully they will work for you!
1. Wake up and Meditate. I'm very new to meditation but can already see why so many people do it. I'm honestly kicking myself in the ass for not starting this earlier. Mediation sets the tone for the day. It's helped me center myself and calm down! Instead of hitting the ground running, I wake up a little early to spend that quiet time with myself.
Tip: Check out the Headspace and Oak apps. Great meditation apps... and free!
2. Work out! So here's a little secret, my anxiety attacks started when I fell off the wagon, meaning I stopped working out. I knew I needed to get back on track so I got back in the gym!
TIP: If you haven't been to the gym in a while, no biggie, start off small and take a nice walk in the park. Just move!
3. Change your diet. I'm a NOLA girl. I love crawfish, red beans, gumbo, PoBoys; you name it. But eating all that fried, rich food isn't the best for you mentally and physically. When I overindulge in food like that my mood changes. I feel sluggish, weak and sometimes down, so I eat all of that NOLA goodness in moderation and make sure to incorporate fruits and veggies into my diet.
Tip: If you're in NOLA and want some good healthy food, check out SweetVegan Soul Food. I'm there every week and honestly forget I'm not eating any animal product.
4. Enjoy the outdoors- I love being outside! It puts me in a great mood especially when the weather is beautiful (like it has been here).
Tip: I love walking around the French Quarter, Cafe Amile is a great spot to visit. The food is good and it’s also has a beautiful courtyard.
5. I started taking CBD hard candies. After a ton of research, I finally jumped on the CBD bandwagon. I was looking for a natural way to get my anxiety under control and read CBD was great for it. It has helped mellow me out and keeps me relaxed in stressful moments, like dealing with kids, LOL! I’ve been taking the hard candies for a while now and they have definitely helped out. If you are looking for a more natural way to deal with your anxiety, I would suggest trying CBD out. But of course, please consult your physician first.
6. Find a friend. Ha! No really, find a friend that you can call to talk about your anxiety. I have a good friend, well more like a sister, and therapist that I call when I’m feeling anxious. She knows my crazy and can calm me down when I’m on the verge of an attack. Everyone can’t handle an anxious person.
7. Get familiar with the Grounding Technique- The same friend who I call introduced me to grounding. When I call her she actually goes through this exercise with me and it works. I've done this many times alone and it really is a big life saver.
Check out these tips from http://www.therapistsb.com
There are 5 steps to take to help create progress towards finding symptom reduction and/or relief. Taking these 5 steps might not be overnight magic but can significantly help reduce symptoms of anxiety, trauma triggers, and other unwanted emotions or thoughts. With any type of trigger, emotion, or thought that needs coping skills, it is important to always remember the breath! Like in yoga, slow, deep, long breathing can help maintain a sense of calm or help return to a calmer state. Start with deep breathing as the introduction to any coping skill. Breathe in for 5 seconds, hold the breath for 5 seconds, and breathe out for 5 seconds. Continue this pattern until you find your thoughts slowing down or until necessary. I suggest at least 5 rounds of these sets but more is of course allowed and encouraged. After you are able to find your breath, go through the numbers in order to help ground yourself in present thinking through external factors:
5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you. Maybe it is a bird, maybe it is pencil, maybe it is a spot on the ceiling, however big or small, state 5 things you see.
4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. Maybe this is your hair, hands, ground, grass, pillow, etc, whatever it may be, list out the 4 things you can feel.
3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear. This needs to be external, do not focus on your thoughts; maybe you can hear a clock, a car, a dog park. or maybe you hear your tummy rumbling, internal noises that make external sounds can count, what is audible in the moment is what you list.
2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell: This one might be hard if you are not in a stimulating environment, if you cannot automatically sniff something out, walk nearby to find a scent. Maybe you walk to your bathroom to smell soap or outside to smell anything in nature, or even could be as simple as leaning over and smelling a pillow on the couch, or a pencil. Whatever it may be, take in the smells around you.
1. Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste. What does the inside of your mouth taste like, gum, coffee, or the sandwich from lunch? Focus on your mouth as the last step and take in what you can taste.
These five steps are a way to ground yourself in the NOW! Take you out of your head and help stop you flooded thoughts. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy it is believed that your thoughts are directly linked to how you feel and although we feel like we lose control of our thought processes, we have tools that can help us gain back a sense of control and lead to healthier thought patterns. In moments of anxiety or triggered trauma it is important to stay present focused to help find symptom relief. Hopefully this coping technique can help you or someone you know stay present, stay grounded, and stay healthy.
Ok, I’ve shared my steps with you, now let me know what you do to get your mind right!