Lori Wilkerson Stewart
ANOTHER WAY TO BATTLE ANXIETY
Updated: Oct 29, 2018
In this crazy world we live in, it’s no wonder anxiety and depression are on the rise. I blame a few things for this...
We’re the first generation to be living lives on smartphones. Constantly plugged in… what was supposed to make our lives so much easier has made things so much worse. We’re all trying to live up to the picture perfect lives we see others project on Instagram and get our homes to look just like the ones we’ve admired on Pinterest.
Our jobs look different than the jobs of 30 years ago, too. We stare at computer screens all day and the stress of cerebral jobs takes its toll. Our bodies are not moving enough to release the stress and our immune systems are weakened. We get sick, which then leads to more anxiety and more depression. How can we fight this endless cycle?
A few years ago, I was desperate for some relief from constant anxiety. I frequently had trouble breathing, my head and shoulders felt like they were going to explode, and when I finally had a full blown panic attack I went to see a doctor. Anxiety medications only made things worse. I had all the weird side affects you hear about in the commercials (yes, even “burning feet”), so after trying a couple different prescriptions I gave up.
So, what finally worked? I don’t want you to think I’m completely cured, because anxiety raises its ugly head sometimes. Thankfully, it doesn’t stay long enough to turn into depression. Here’s what helped:
1) Get up and talk to God. I’ve always been a devotions-at-night girl. However, I felt like the Lord wanted me to add a morning time as well. So, as hard as it was, I set my clock 45 minutes ahead. That gives me 15 minutes to wake up and get my coffee and thirty minutes to spend reading the word and praying. I have the one year Bible sent to my phone through email. That way, I can sit in the morning darkness and read the Bible on my phone without turning a light on…I don’t like bright lights in the morning! This addition to my schedule is probably 75% of my victory. More time with Jesus equals less anxiety!
2) Exercise. If you want to survive and beat anxiety, you must exercise! When you get your heartrate up to at least 110, you will literally feel the anxiety melt away. Get that heartrate up for at least twenty minutes and finish your workout by doing some slow, full body stretches.
3) Get off ALL caffeine. This will be hard at first as your body adjusts, but you won’t miss it. Decaffeinated coffee, tea, and sodas taste just as good without caffeine. The bottom line: when you have anxiety, you’re already overstimulated. You don’t need any added stimulants!
4) Learn deep breathing techniques. If you don’t know how to take a deep, and I mean deep breath, just go to YouTube and watch a video. I heard there’s even a phone app that will lead you through a deep breathing routine. When you notice your breathing is shallow, you much stop and do some deep breathing exercises. It’s like turning a computer off and on: you need a reboot!
5) Fast from social media periodically. I have gotten off social media several times over the years for a period of time. I’m sort of a news junkie and my greatest temptation is checking the news on my Twitter feed right before I go to bed. Facebook can be just as upsetting to your state of mind. Just get off of social media for a while, and I guarantee you’ll feel better.
6) Leave gaps in your schedule. Stop scheduling every hour of your day and weekend. Leave some margin in your planner for nothing. Yes, nothing. You may end up filling your nothing with something productive, but it will be by choice, not because your calendar is calling. Personally, I love to fill my nothing with naps!
7) Soak. I am a firm believer in the soothing power of a hot bath. I take one almost every night. If you have access to a Jacuzzi hot tub, that’s even better. While you’re soaking, listen to worship music. Reflect on God’s goodness in your life. Give thanks for all the ways he showed up for you that day.
8) Enjoy a hot beverage. Herbal teas, hot chocolate or warm milk can have a calming effect on your nerves.
If you've found yourself constantly feeling anxious, I would encourage you to try these natural solutions that I’ve listed*. They’re not always easy; some will require self-discipline and determination on your part, but with the Lord’s help I know He will help you overcome anxiety.
*I’m not a doctor. If you are under the care of a doctor for anxiety and depression, please continue to follow their direction. This post is meant for people battling minor episodes of anxiety and depression.