So…I guess I’m back! Guess who’s back…back again…guess who’s back, guess who’s back…
Nah but for real, this whole ‘fave anxiety fixes EVA’ blog post thing has been a little too long in the making. Like, I’ve been having so many ideas for what I want to include in this for months now, but I just couldn’t stop myself from thinking, Hmm…but will people really care? Will it truly be helpful? And honestly, the main reason I’ve been having these thoughts is because of the fact that, well, anxiety is different for everyone. To anxious people this is something which seems extremely trivial, yet I still come into contact with many people who don’t seem to really understand; anxiety is not one, continuous disorder. Each person’s experience is different, and symptoms vary based on whatever the individual’s brain (or body) decides to latch onto at the time, the situation they find themselves in, outside circumstances, whether or not they’ve had their cup of coffee yet (jk that’s me), etc.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been able to really observe my anxiety and see the stages and cycles it goes through. It’s day to day, and, apart from acceptance and self-love, there’s not much I can do to stop its shifting nature. While this fucking sucks, it’s also precisely what’s kind of interesting about the worries knocking around this little noggin of mine; I like to picture them sort of like balls of Play-Doh; all able to take on their own shapes and influences, how and whenever they want to, for however long they want to. When they, however, decide they’re sick of whatever form they’re in, or they bump into another worry which exasperates them, or for no apparent goddamn reason at all, they change. This cute little process is a catch-22 for me because when a worry seems to dissipate there is, of course, an undeniable sense of relief. The catch though, is that, the Play-Doh-worry-ball never seems to truly go away, but rather takes on a new identity and starts a whole new cycle of worrying about something new. It’s great. I love it. Cheers, thanks a lot, anxiety.
So yeah, because I’ve been imagining the fact that each anxious person on this planet has different Play-Doh balls rolling around their heads, changing at different times (or not changing), leaving (or coming in), causing someone severe pain (or not), yadda yadda yadda, I kind of have been like, shit, this blog post is a bit pointless. There’s no one common fix for anxiety. BUT, there’s a BUT here. The BUT is that I’ve had these thoughts before when I’ve written a blog post but decided I didn’t give a shit and posted it anyways. And when I’ve done that, I’ve received so many messages of love, support and most importantly, of people who could immensely relate to what I was talking about. So I figure, out of the whole list of things I’m about to compose, hopefully at least one of them can help most people. If not, sorry. Thanks for reading anyway, you little star. All of that nonsense being said (seriously, Play-Doh? What the fuck is that?), here it is (dramatic drum roll, please)….my personal favourite fixes for anxiety!
Okay, okay, I KNOW, okay? Meditation is something that’s pushed onto people with anxiety and depression a lot, and it can become a bit tiresome to hear about, especially if you feel that you don’t have enough time to do it, or feel ridiculous doing it because you’re young and feel like you shouldn’t have to sit in silence for half an hour a day just to be a little okay (like seriously, what?), or because you’re too damn anxious in the first place to sit still in silence for any given space of time. I get it, because I’ve had all of these same thoughts. But seriously, I promise you, if you’re willing to give it a proper shot, meditation can work wonders. It’s scientifically proven that regular meditation reduces levels of stress and subsequent bodily responses, so there’s a reason that we’re told to do it so often.
It took me a while to really get into meditation, but it’s now part of my daily practice (most of the time). I think the prospect of meditating can be a bit daunting because when you’re starting out, you feel like there’s only one correct way of doing it and that you’re doing it wrong. Don’t think this! Like anxiety, meditation is different for everyone and you don’t have to be a monk to reap the benefits. It’s okay to have thoughts when you meditate, and furthermore, it’s normal. Any time you sit in silence or with music and just breathe, your body is benefitting. I think it’s definitely easier to start out with guided meditations and eventually move to meditating on your own, so I am going to put my favourite guided meditations below. Please keep in mind some of them have spiritual aspects to them such as chakra balancing because this is part of my practice, but you don’t have to be spiritual to meditate, and there are tons of meditations simply for anxiety or other issues all over the internet. I’ll also put some links to my favourite unguided meditation music, too.
Beginners’ Meditation for Anxiety and Panic Attacks – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t51bOh1mjt0
Sleep Meditation for Releasing Subconscious Blockages – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VttsLIfV2pM
Chakra Healing and Balancing Meditation – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEgLw6bTtxs
Guided Visual Imagery Meditation for Anxiety and Stress – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vO1wPAmiMQ
Unguided meditation music:
Binaural Beats for Happiness – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvEX3Aniyxo
Tibetan Meditation Music – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rmPmq-HlG5g
Native American Flute Meditation Music – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST56ATKfgfs
2. Going For A Walk
I feel like this one sounds a bit silly, but for some reason, walking really helps alleviate anxiety for me. Depending on how I’m feeling, I’ll choose whether I want to set myself a destination or not. Some days not knowing where I’m going stresses me out, while others I like to just wander with no particular goal in mind. I couldn’t tell you exactly why walking helps, but for me, not having to do anything except focus on putting one foot in front of the other and listening to some music is calming. Going for a long walk also seems to always remind me of how fortunate I am; that I have the ability to walk at all, that I can sense my surroundings, and that I can think for myself. It sounds trivial, but having these thoughts nudge into your consciousness can help lighten at least some worries by reminding yourself that you actually are okay and things really aren’t as bad as your anxious mind makes them out to be.
Also, a side note – exercising in other ways helps me in the same way walking does, I just…well…I don’t do it as often, because I’m a lazy sloth. But in my experience, high intensity workouts, particularly those which involve a lot of cardio, can help distract the mind and give a sense of grounding. Sometimes the best fix for anxiety is just to flat out make yourself tired, because I find that my mind hits a point where, if my body is too tired, it will give me a bit of a breather from my anxiety.
3. Essential Oils
Okay yeah, I know, essential oils can sound a bit kooky. Like meditation, oils weren’t something I could really get myself into just because it all just sounded a bit too much like bullshit. Like, oh, if you put this magical extract of a plant on the soles of your feet, you’ll feel less anxious. I found it a bit far-fetched and, to my mother’s dismay, never used the host of oils she gave me for almost a year. Recently, however, I decided to actually give them a chance because I thought, at the end of the day even if they don’t actually work, they smell fucking GREAT. I started by putting the oils on my pillow before going to sleep at night, and eventually started using them on my body too. I’ve been using essential oils for a few months now, and I can honestly say I’m completely converted. I genuinely feel less tense when I diffuse them or apply them to my neck so I can smell them throughout the day. Is the whole putting them on your feet thing working for me, too? I’m not sure I can really say. But, it doesn’t hurt to do it just in case, right? There are tons of different essential oils used for different things, especially for anxiety, but I’ll list below my favourites.
Vetiver – I’ve come to realise that it seems as though a lot of people actually don’t like Vetiver’s scent. I, however, absolutely adore it and it’s my all-time favourite oil to use for anxiety. I’m smelling it as I write now to try and describe it, but I’m really lost on this one. It’s kind of…musky, I guess? With a hint of sweetness? Anyways, depending on how good of shit you can get your hands on, it can be pretty expensive so you have to treat it like gold dust, but a few drops on my pillow before bed goes a long way, and I also put it on my feet once a day because I believe in its power. There have been studies done on rats given aromatherapy with Vetiver oil, and they’ve found it can significantly lower levels of stress. Now I know I ain’t no rat, but come on now. That’s pretty cool.
Frankincense – Frankincense smells AMAZING, and honestly, that’s why I use it. It’s another oil which is highly recommended to help with symptoms of anxiety, particularly when used in aromatherapy. I like to put Frankincense on my wrists and neck, as I find its scent very soothing and it’s nice to be able to have a little sniff at myself to calm down if things start going downhill for me mentally (think I’m crazy yet?). Again, pretty hard on the wallet, but ugh. So. Good.
Lavender – This is probably the most widely known oil used for stress and anxiety. I remember as a kid my mom having those weird little eye-cover things which had lavender inside to relax you. It definitely has a lovely smell, and who doesn’t like to feel like they’re lying in a field of flowers? I like to use this one mostly in my diffuser, which is essentially a fancy word for a little contraption which creates a mist from water and a few drops of essential oils and releases it into the room. It’s nice to put some lavender in it when I get home after a long day and inhale its calming scent as I settle in for yet another night of procrastination and Netflix.
You can buy essential oils from many different places both online and in stores, and there are tons of different companies which manufacture them. My favourite essential oils company, however, is doTerra. doTerra is committed to producing only the highest quality of essential oils through careful and sustainable harvesting and distillation processes. The company also gives a lot back to charity as well as the environment, and incidentally, I happen to sell their products! So if you’re looking to get started with essential oils, drop me a line. I can hook you up with some good shit.
At any given moment in time, I tend to have (in my opinion) way too many different thoughts and sensations running through my mind, and although I’m pretty capable of managing at this point, it can all get too overwhelming if my mood is spiralling. When this happens, I find talking helps a lot. This is, again something which probably sounds a bit silly or obvious, but if I’ve tried everything to feel better on a bad day to no avail, I know that talking to someone close to me will help, at least a little bit.
I’m quite an open person, so I generally don’t find it difficult to talk about my mental state or whatever fears I’m having as a result of my anxiety. I’m very lucky in this, because it means that I can call my mom or my best friend and start wailing on about some irrational worry that will realistically never happen and eventually calm down. However, I understand that talking about emotions isn’t as easy for everyone, so I will tell you that I believe talking in any form can help alleviate anxiety symptoms. If you’re feeling trapped in a really worrisome or low place but don’t necessarily feel like sharing how your feelings with someone, call them anyways and ask about their day. I can’t count the amount of times that I’ve been so grateful for a friend to just have a seemingly normal conversation with me even though I’m having a bad day mentally. Hearing someone else’s thoughts, feelings, or ideas helps remind me that despite all the chaos happening in my head, life goes on. Other people are dealing with things too, and my worries are not actually the only thing happening within my sphere. It’s nice to be able to connect with the people you love in these moments, if only to get yourself out of your head a little bit.
Now obviously I should include therapy or counselling in this section, and I am. I think therapy is extremely beneficial in a lot of ways, and can help anyone, whether they suffer from a mental illness or not. BUT, there’s another BUT here. The BUT is, sadly, therapy is not accessible to everyone depending on circumstances, and is simply not an option to many. I, however, believe that the core reason that therapy is beneficial at all is because you’re able to articulate exactly how you’re feeling in that moment verbally, rather than keeping everything contained in your internal dialogue. So, if you’re not able to have therapy, I will tell you, please just try and speak. Speak to anyone. Speak to a friend. Speak to a colleague. Speak to your mom. Speak to the smelly guy next to you on the bus. Speak, because speaking helps.
5. Affirmations and Self-Love
I know you just read that heading and rolled your eyes, but for real, stop and listen up. It took me a long time to learn and I’m still getting there, but making an effort to have a positive dialogue with yourself is critical when it comes to mental health. I used to think that simply saying things to myself would never help make me feel better, but the truth is, if you start affirming positive statements to yourself every single day, even if they don’t feel true at first, you’ll eventually start to believe them. This doesn’t have to be some complicated, dramatic process. It can be as simple as listening to 5-minute long YouTube video which has you repeat affirmations (I’ll put the link to that below).
Daily Positive Affirmations – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAPxkHh73Lg
If you’re willing to delve a bit deeper, however, my personal favourite method of self-love is to write myself a letter which details my positive attributes and reiterates that I am okay. Many of my anxieties stem from fear of not being able to handle a situation, so it’s important for me to remind myself that I’ve overcome every single obstacle that’s ever been put in my way, I’m still here today, and that I will continue on and handle whatever else I am dealt (and also that deep fried cheese is a thing so I really will be okay). I like to write these letters and them read them out loud. That way, you have your affirmations in writing and can use that same letter everyday before starting your day. Here’s an example of one I wrote which I try to read to myself every morning:
I can get past anything. I have so much power quelled up inside me that I’m not even necessarily aware of. I can overcome any situation. Most of my fears will never even happen, but it is important that I know and understand that even if they do, I am strong enough to handle them. Whatever illness, rejection, or failure comes my way, I can deal with and overcome it. I always have, and I always will. I love myself completely and I will be okay no matter what. I always end up on my feet. I know myself and trust myself and understand how to make ME happy. I express gratitude and love to myself for this fact, because it puts ME in complete control of my life and destiny. And what is important is that I choose happiness and positivity. I do not invest in energy or emotions which bring negativity to my being in any way. I only invest in positive thoughts, emotions, and experiences and I am a beacon of positivity. I accept my physical body, mind, and spirit exactly as it is in this moment and I give it my love. I am perfect. I am okay. I will be okay. I love myself.
If you’re able to write something like this to yourself and read it every morning, I can assure you you will notice a change. Besides this, for God’s sake, tell yourself ‘I love you’. We spend so much time saying this to other people and never say it to ourselves, but it’s crucial that we do. Remind yourself of how great you are and how much love and compassion you have for yourself. You deserve to be reminded of it.
So…BOOM. That’s it! My favourite fixes for anxiety. I only did five, because this blog post started feeling like it was getting as long as the fifth Harry Potter book, and we all have some other stuff to do today. There are loads of other things I do to take care of my mental health, so maybe I’ll do a part 2 of this post. Again, I don’t know how helpful any of the things on my list will be to people because we’re all different, but regardless, I really appreciate you taking the time to read. If you’ve made it this far and are still reading, kudos and thank you, because I probably would have closed the tab by now. Whoever you are, I hope you have a fantastic day and I send you lots of love; from one Play-Doh filled mind to another.