Do you suffer from anxiety? If so, you are well aware of the many relentless symptoms that come fast and hard with an attack. That scary feeling of being smothered as if a pillow is shoved tightly across your face. The rapid onset of dizziness and spinning like you’re in the middle of a State Fair ride…
It never ceases to amaze me when I’m in the midst of a panic attack how I’m 100 percent certain I’m dying with every single one that hits. This is my absolute truth each time a new one arrives even after actually surviving so many of those monstrous moments.
Self-care is key when anxiety tries to take over. These are the times we can step away from anything else on our to-do lists and focus on our well-being. It’s a must.
Here are 7 ways to practice self-care when anxiety hits. I hope they help you as profoundly as they have me in those moments we all desperately need to escape.
Stay Away From Sugar
This one is tough. I completely understand our deepest instinct makes us want to run to a sweet treat for comfort, but I truly believe gut health is a huge part of anxiety and mood disorders. When I follow the FAA food plan with no sugar, flour, or wheat, I literally feel like a different person.
Two weeks ago, I quit sugar again as anxiety has been visiting me too often lately after a nice long break. I’ve had a few sugary slips, but am overall happy with my progress. I’m not quite ready to release flour and wheat yet. They are definitely next on my list.
Have Healthy Food Easily Accessible
Again, we will probably not want to make healthy choices in these moments of overwhelm. This makes it imperative we have good, clean foods within reach. If you need to send someone to the grocery, ask for help!
This might be the perfect time to try out a service like Hello Fresh where all of the exact ingredients arrive at your doorstep and you just follow a simple recipe. If it’s too late to plan for that and you’re already in a dark, anxious space, send someone to pick up food at a local healthier choice restaurant. CoreLife Eatery, Chipotle, and Panera are a few of my family’s favorites.
Get Lost in a Good Story
This seems so simple. Read a book. I know this may be the last thing we want to do as our minds spin, but getting lost in a good story (or even some interesting non-fiction) can give us just the escape we need.
I haven’t read as much as I would like this year. Visit my completed to-be-read pile of books from last year with their corresponding reviews for some great choices to start with. You’ll see I lost the momentum around October, thankfully not before finishing two of my absolute favorites, For The Love and It Was Me All Along.
Turn to God
Of course, the most helpful book to pick up when anxiety hits hard is the Bible.
Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.
~1 Peter 5:7
He loves us more than we could ever imagine. We all know his promises of peace. One of my favorite scriptures:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
When those relentless anxiety attacks take over, it’s far too easy to forget those many promises He so graciously gives us. One of my favorite ways to connect with Him in my panicked moments is praying scripture. Just personalize one of your favorite verses and pray those beautiful words as absolute truth.
Watch a Movie
For all of the grief screens get these days, a solid two hours in front of one when you’re reeling out of control can be much needed. I’m a big fan of Netflix for this reason alone. Sometimes just the act of scrolling through the choices can alleviate my panic stricken mind.
Something about holding that remote and setting my focus on the screen completely soothes me at times. When I’m overcome with anxiety, I don’t even have to feel a little bit guilty about wasting time with a movie or good TV series binge. I chalk it up to a mental health necessity and call it a day.
Connect With Nature
I studied techniques for healing anxiety with nature on a trip I took with my daughter last year. We were at the beach, my happy place, and I was strangely plagued with panic attacks. After forcing myself outdoors, I found the peace I needed through connecting and grounding myself in nature.
As the weather continues to get colder, I’ve found even opening all of my blinds can give me this same type of relief. My husband has always said he can tell what kind of day I’ve had by whether the blinds are open. He’s a pretty smart guy…
Apply and Diffuse Essential Oils
Last but certainly not least, use essential oils! Nothing has helped my mood management more than these little natural solutions. I’m currently obsessed with my calming roller-bottle filled with doTERRA Balance, Serenity, and Vetiver. (You can find the exact recipe here.)
My favorite book on proper use of essential oils, The Essential Life, lists the following for anxious feelings: Restful Blend (doTERRA Serenity), Lavender, Reassuring Blend (doTERRA Peace), Grounding Blend (doTERRA Balance), and Wild Orange.
I use a variety of oils throughout the day topically, internally, and in my diffuser. You can learn more about essential oils here. You will also find a wonderful list of diffuser recipes for emotional support there as well. I would love to help you get started with these powerful little helpers.
Self-care is not an option. We must make time to serve ourselves just as we do for all the people we love. When anxiety sets in, these habits become even more important.
I hope these suggestions serve you well. Please share some of your favorite self-care practices in the comments!