Hey guys! I wrote this on the plane ride to Barcelona for my semester abroad. I remember having a complete mixing pot of emotions going on. I was excited, nervous, ready, not ready, scared, hopeful…and on top of all of this…incredibly anxious. Anxiety is a normal part of life and we all deal with it at some point during our lives. Being anxious and nervous about big events can actually help us perform better. It would be abnormal to never get nervous or fear anything…life would be boring that way. So yes, anxiety is an essential part of life, but when it gets particularly bad, it can be really hard to cope with. I have found some ways to deal with my anxiety that hopefully some of you may find helpful. Starting with tip number 1…
- Deep Breaths. So simple, and it may sound cliche, but deep breathing can have incredible effects on anxiety. Just simply close your eyes, and breathe slowly in through your nose and out through your mouth. This process allows oxygen to circulate throughout your body and this oxygen can relax our brains and help with anxious thoughts. There have been many studies examining this; here is one to check out. It’s amazing that something as simple as taking deep breaths can calm us down and slow racing thoughts. This is one reason why I love yoga so much. Yoga helps you focus on your breathing which calms down the brain and helps you take on life better each day.
- Write down your worries. For me personally, when I write down what I am worrying about instead of just thinking about it and ruminating in my head, it helps me take a step back and re-evaluate. Is what I am worrying about really worth as much worry as I’m giving it? I like to do this before I go to sleep because I often find I worry about things when I’m trying to relax in my bed. I usually write down exactly what I’m worried about, and then right next to it, I write why it’s going to be okay, and why I don’t have to worry about it so much. For example, I’ll write: I’m worried about finishing up my packing. And then next to it: I have several hours tomorrow before my flight to finish packing and I also made a checklist to confirm I have everything I need. This process reminds your brain that you do have control over some things in your life, and at the end of the day, you’re going to be okay.
- Lavender oil. Enough said. Lavender essential oil is truly a miracle oil. Dab some on your forearms or on your pillow before bed. Make sure to get a good quality lavender oil and truly breathe it in as you inhale. You can breath in lavender oil at any point during the day to help with relaxing, but I like to do it before bed because it puts me in a tranquil state before going to sleep. Lavender has lots of other benefits besides helping with sleep, for example, it can help with digestion, improve blood circultion and boost immunity. My favorite brand of essential oils is Young Living Essential Oils. They are Therapeutic Grade, high quality, and I like the customer service that comes with using the site.
- Give yourself a Facial Massage. This is one of my favorite ones for not only showing myself some self love, but its amazing for relaxation and great for stimulating collagen production for a healthy glow. After I get out of a warm bath or shower, I will take some high quality, cold-pressed jojoba oil (you can use a wide variety of oils just make sure the one you get is good quality…it should be in a glass jar, not plastic), and I massage it onto my face. I start with my temples, rubbing in circular motion, then I will move to the sides of my face, my forehead, my sinuses, and so on until my entire face has been massaged. There are many ways to give your self a facial massage. This page is helpful if you have never done it. Not only do facial massages help with relaxation, but they are also incredible for your skin. It gets blood flowing to all areas of your face, increasing collagen production and boosting skin elasticity. Even better, get a facial. This is obviously a more costly option, but estheticians are trained to not only give facial massages but also perform treatments that improve the skin by opening up the pores and cleaning out impurities. I got a facial while I was staying in Palm Beach, and my skin was glowing afterwards.
- Do something mind-numbing. If you cannot seem to control racing thoughts and/or anxiety, it can be helpful to do something that dulls your thoughts and forces you to concentrate on other things. Make sure this is something you genuinely enjoy. Some examples are taking a long jog outside, listening to your favorite soundtrack, drawing/sketching in a coloring book, painting your nails and so on. Keep yourself busy and the anxious thoughts will eventually fade away once you are giving your full attention to a different activity. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just give yourself a break, that way when you do get back to whatever is stressing you out, you’ll be able to tackle it with a more clear head.
Something that I want to incorporate into my life everyday is meditation. I have tried it many times before in the past, and always have trouble staying consistent. I find there are many times where I make up excuses like, “I’ll just do it tomorrow” or “I’m tired, and I don’t have enough time” and so on. However, I have come to realize that meditating is one of best things you can do for headspace, and things like OCD/anxiety/bad thoughts/stress and so on. I have struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for many years and recently in the past few months have been trying to tackle it head on. A book I have been reading recently that I have really enjoyed is The Mind Workout by Mark Freeman which I have been reading on my vacation here in Palm Beach. He suggests meditation everyday to help view your thoughts in a more non-judgemental way and not chase after every thought you have (which OCD tends to force you to do). There are now so many apps, audio books, music playlists, and guides available everywhere that make it hard to not incorporate meditation in your life. You can start small and build up to it. So, that is my next challenge over the next couple of weeks and I will continue to update the progress and improvements I am able to make personally.
Let me know what you think!