I have struggled with anxiety from my teen years but only started to learn to deal with it properly after going through a period of trauma. I find certain coping mechanisms really work for me while others do not. I think it varies for different people – I noticed that. when I am anxious I fiddle with my hands, my heart beats very quickly and I struggle to catch my breath. I also can get stomach related problems. I learnt my triggers and what I can do to avoid them and help me calm when the anxiety starts. I honestly think one of the best things you can do is simply talk to someone. I do believe a problem shared is a problem halved. If someone else can understand, or simply hear you out, it’s incredibly therapeutic and no one should ever have to struggle on their own. Please don’t feel afraid of confiding in a trusted friend, family member or health professional. So, after speaking with doctors, therapists, and just trial and error of my own doing I have found my top 5 anxiety relievers which I would like to share with you.
- Bachs’ Rescue Remedy – Around £7 from UK chemists
I don’t know if this is a placebo effect from my mother telling me this would calm me down when I was younger, but I find it does work for me. According to Bachs’ website (I use the original Rescue Remedy dropper), it includes 5 natural flower essences, (Rock Rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Star of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum) which support emotional demand. It also contains Grape Alcohol. Put 4 drops on your tongue and you’re good to go. The taste is soothing and I have felt almost instant relief. It’s been in production for 80 years, so it must be doing something right!
I carry water around with me everywhere. Not only for hydration purposes, but because I found It relieves any nauseous feeling I get when I get anxious. Just sipping some water does help and it’s also a bit of a distraction from feeling anxious. Iced / cold water I find is best, and concentrating on feeling the cold in the mouth often distracts the anxious thoughts and feelings I might be having.
- Breathing exercises
Taking deep breaths, brings down my heart rate when I’m anxious. YouTube has a huge selection of videos on techniques to manage anxiety that can really help. The trick is to find ones that work for you. Some of my favourites range from meditation to just simply counting. I find 4 seconds breath in, 4 seconds breath out works best for me. When looking for new videos, I often flick through them to find someone with a comforting voice. I save it to my favourites if I find it works for me and return to them when needed. There is also an app called Calm which also has some mindfulness and breathing techniques, and sleep help!
- Stress/Anxiety relieving game apps – often free on the Apple / Google Store
I use an app called AntiStress Anxiety Relief Game. I always have my phone on me, like many others and honestly this little app can be a saving grace. It’s got many silly little mindless games on it, like icing a cake, bubble wrap popping, and window washing. Nothing stressful at all, it will instantly take your mind off to a nicer, more relaxed place. I also love that there are so many options to choose from.
- Exercise and a healthy diet
Doing some exercise, especially with someone, can really help. I am someone who doesn’t like being on my own, I find having someone there comforting and exercising together is enjoyable! I keep to a healthy, balanced diet (some treats are good too!) and I drink in moderation as alcohol is a trigger for me. I do enjoy a drink with my friends though so I did not cut it out completely. However, I did, cut out caffeine as this raises my heart rate and triggers my anxiety and there are plenty of alternative decaffeinated options.
If you are reading this and recognise anxiety may be a problem for you, please know you aren’t alone and that there really are things that can help you distract your brain from concentrating on the anxiety onto something else. A health professional will help you. Medication, if needed, is not a bad thing at all if needed and is not a sign of failure or weakness.