DISCLAIMER: I am not a licensed therapist, practitioner, doctor, or lawyer. Any advice given that is potentially related to legal, therapeutic or medical professions is all in good faith, but should not be taken as professional advice. I speak from my experiences in hopes that it will help you and others take steps to create a better life. Please see the full disclaimer here for more information.
Anxiety: The Tick that Can be Hard to Shake
Anxiety to me feels like the unwanted devil on your shoulder controlling and luring your subconscious mind to so often be afraid of everything on a level that feels uncontrollable at times. You can be swimmingly going through your day, and then two seconds later, the mind, body, and nervous system gets triggered into what can feel like an all-out assault against your great day and fantastic mood. Though you may be consciously aware of what is happening during your anxious moments, and that “anxiety has taken over,” it can so often be so frustrating and debilitating to deal with and understand where the triggers are coming from and why. Not only is it not fun to navigate, but when people don’t understand what you’re dealing with under the surface when you say you “can’t” go out tonight or you’re just too tired to do anything (even if you actually want to go do those things), it can be a lot to handle mentally and dynamically with those around you. Then, because you may feel guilty and helpless and feel bad for not feeling able enough to be there for those you want to the most, it all compiles into a mental downward spiral. Not to be negative, but just wanted to be real for a hot second.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, an estimated 40 million people have some sort of anxiety disorder (nearly 20% of the U.S. population), and that’s just in the United States. Like anyone’s life experience, anxiety is probably a little different for everyone in the sense that the triggers are most likely unique for each person, and how a person handles those situations is different for each person as well.
I developed anxiety around 10 years ago when a lot of unfortunate events occurred in my life in short period of time. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer, my dad had a complication with a general procedure, I was getting close to graduating college (and I was already a bit amped up and nervous about what the next big step in life was going to be). Our family lost our 2 cats very early in their lives (both less than 3 years old due to two separate diseases), and that was soon after we had put my childhood dog down. On top of that, I had my own little things going wrong during the midst of all this. I don’t 100% remember the time-frames of all of these events, but it felt like it all happened within a year or two.
Eventually, it just felt like my body didn’t know how to cope, and it fell into general anxiety. Though I wasn’t really conscious of it growing up, I began to realize how sensitive my body was to external stimuli, which also played into my own factors with anxiety. After all these things occurred, I immediately just began to feel on edge, found it hard to breathe at peak times, developed paranoia around a lot of things in my life and just didn’t know where to start in order to heal.
Because my anxiety also somewhat coincided with a chronic issue I have dealt with for much of my life (esophageal spasms), I’ve had to deal with many internal traumas regarding food and eating as well. To this day, it has something I’ve been trying to get relief from and has affected my own quality of life to some degree in how I make decisions around what, when, and where to eat. The reason this is connected to my anxiety is because over time and many spasms later (I’ve had well over 100 in my lifetime thus far, ranging from 30 seconds, to 2 days), I realized that the spasms I have been experiencing were not simply a physical issue, but were being caused by internal thoughts triggering my nervous system, causing the spasms to occur at times when eating. This has turned into a vicious cycle at times because for years in the back of my mind, I know there’s been a track playing that’s always wondering when and where the next spasm issue will occur (causing anxiety, low grades of PTSD, etc). (To gather the full story about my own journey with anxiety/spasms, please watch the YouTube video below).
Small Beams of Hope Showing the Way
A couple years after developing anxiety, I started to find some answers and relief in the form of holistic healing. Through much of my life experience, I have found that many holistic remedies or practices have really helped me to not only understand my anxiousness, but develop a deeper knowing of the true mind-body-soul connection. It was through these processes that I began to put the puzzle pieces together to not only get relief for my own anxiety, but to gain some empowerment in the process in terms of how I can deal with it in the present moments when it does show up. I’m also happy to say that in comparison to 10 years ago, my overall anxiousness is probably a solid 80%-90% more under control and less frequent than it ever was. For me, it never really felt right to go the medicated route, but IF that is something that is working for you, please continue to do so. Each person is going to have things that do or don’t work for them.
Because of the current times we’re all going through with SO many unknowns within the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt called to share my experiences with anxiousness, and I wanted to provide a few tips of the remedies or practices that have worked best for me. Maybe anxiety is something you’ve dealt with for much of your life, or maybe it’s just starting to come to the surface now. Regardless of your experience with it, the more you can get relief and release the inner traumas, triggers, and thoughts potentially causing your anxiousness, the better your quality of life will be.
Some of these are tips you can do in the present moment to get some relief. Others are a little more drawn-out and may require a practitioner. Nevertheless, I hope you gain some clarity, relief, and solace to potentially help live a calmer life. Here are 9 of my top tips that could potentially help to relieve your anxiousness, based on my own life experiences (if you prefer to watch the video instead, please check out the video at the bottom of the page).
- Accupressure Points and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)
Our bodies are connected in so many ways, and not just in the literal sense. In short though, our bodies have these “energy points” called acupressure meridians. These meridians can act as release points when pressed on or tapped, which effectively can cause the body to begin releasing stuck emotions, feelings, and connected thoughts, according to goodtherapy.org. In my own experience with this, usually what I will do in the moments that I’m feeling anxious, I will begin to feel out where I feel like my body is tight and just apply some pressure to some of those areas with one of my fingers. I often find that the body, muscles, and other connected systems begin to relax a little bit just from a couple minutes of light, sustained pressure. Sometimes an emotion will release with it as well.
One pressure point that I found to be very helpful is one located in the chest called CV-17 (pictured). If you’re dealing with some anxiousness or really feeling that tightness or lack of breath in your chest, try putting a little pressure on CV-17 and see if it can help you gain some relief.
- Bach Rescue Remedy
Bach Rescue Remedy is a homeopathic supplement that could be a good potential remedy for you to get some stress relief. It is an all natural liquid remedy that only requires a couple drops on the tongue to start working its magic. I personally don’t use this all the time, but I have noticed its effects to obtain a little bit of calmness during those amped up and triggered times. Like with any remedy or medication though, please do your research to see if this would be a good fit for you to use and to make sure that none of the ingredients would cause any negative effects for you.
- Essential Oils
They’ve been all the rage for quite a few years now, but I still know a lot of people that don’t utilize them! There are tons of different oils and oil blends out there and there uses are very wide in range, making them a great alternative for dealing with a lot of ailments or issues. I personally use dōTERRA essential oils, but there are a few really good companies out there. For something like anxiety though, I’ll use the “Breathe” blend, “Serenity,” or sometimes just something like Lavender on its own. This is something I’ll either diffuse, apply to the bottoms of the feet, or sometimes just a little bit on the back of the neck to calm down (along with a carrier oil). Again, like with any remedy though, please do your research in regards to how to use (and NOT to use) essential oils so that you can safely utilize them and get the most benefit that you can.
- Humming or Sound Therapy
I’m not going to get into all of the intricacies of what’s involved with something like sound therapy in this post, but it is something I HIGHLY recommend looking into. Outside of that though, I’ve noticed that the simple act of humming to myself when my body or mind is on edge has actually helped me quite a bit to relax and bring myself back to the present moment. One time I was having a pretty bad spasm (I’ve learned that it feels like it is my nervous system that is just so tightened up and is causing the muscles to seize up in the esophagus), and on a whim, I felt drawn to hum for some reason. Less than a minute later, the act of humming actually calmed my nervous system down enough to help release my esophageal spasm. Gotta love those good vibrations! Since sound carries frequency, and is something that you can actually feel (think of what it’s like to FEEL the music at your favorite concert), it doesn’t surprise me at all that something like humming and feeling the vibrations in the body from that are very good ways to get the body to calm down, and potentially release some stuck emotions.
- Meditation and Breathwork
Meditation is not a new practice by any means, but it’s definitely becoming more and more popular in the mainstream, and the benefits of meditation in general are well documented. I personally started getting into meditation a few years ago, and though it is something I haven’t fully integrated into doing every single day, I definitely do some form of it relatively often. Even if it’s only for 5 or 10 minutes before bed, at a minimum, I will lay there and focus on my breath. Since I have found anxiety for me to mainly be caused by past traumatic thoughts, paranoia, or uncertainty about what the future may bring, getting the mind and body to be FULLY in the present moment makes a huge difference in how my body and mind feel in general. The more you can stay in that present moment mindset, the more you can start to believe that things are fine right here right now, and in time, may start to calm your anxiousness more often. If I feel like I’m getting revved up in a particular situation, I will do my best to just start focusing on getting deep breaths in, and picturing that breath moving all throughout the body.
- Doing Something Creative
Whether it is painting or drawing a picture, going out and taking photos, writing in a journal, or even just picking up a guitar for the first time, using the creative side of your brain can really help to relieve some tension and get your deepest feelings out of the mind and out into the world. No one said you have to be the next Taylor Swift, Picasso, or Carlos Santana, and no one said you have to put your stuff out into the world (unless of course you want to!). Start experimenting with something you’ve always wanted to try. Write out those feelings and see what flows. Take your attention away from social media or your favorite mobile game, and try something different.
Personally, I picked up a guitar for the first time a couple years ago, and I wanted to do enough at that time to learn some basic chords. I’ve gotten to the point where I can pick up the guitar and play a few songs now, after consistently picking it up even a couple times a week and messing around with the chords I know. I’ve absolutely picked up the guitar during times of stress or angst and I’ve definitely noticed how much better I feel through the act of playing and hearing sound, even if it isn’t my best skill.
Also, there is a reason that art therapy works so well. Though that is not something I have personal experience with, this could also be a direction for you to take if you want to deal with anxiety or other issues on an even deeper level.
- Positive Affirmations
I know it sounds a bit odd, but when I say good things to myself, I often feel a positive shift within. Anxiousness for me has often coincided with frustration, negative self-talk, and feelings of inadequacy. Sometimes I find myself thinking about the future too often, and not being happy with where I’m at in a present moment (even though the present moment can often teach us so much). Or maybe it’s during those times when I have found myself comparing myself to others and their lives instead of focusing on what I can be doing. More and more often now though, if I catch myself getting uptight or irritated and triggered from thoughts, I have found that positive affirmations and encouraging self talk can quite quickly shift my mind back into the present moment and into a vibration of gratefulness and compassion.
I’ll often say things like “I’m grateful for the house that I’m in, for my family and my friends. I’m grateful for the food that I do have, and a car that gets me around to where I need to go. I am strong, I am confident, healthy and happy (even if it feels totally opposite within at that present moment in time). I think even at times I have said “I am grateful for this anxiety.” Sound weird? Well, I think that by recognizing and honoring that it is there, the act of compassion and forgiveness towards the condition has actually helped to relieve it for me at times. So often, the things that are “happening for us/to us” can be great teachers. Though living with anxiety for a long time has not exactly been fun, it has taught me so much about life, myself and my inner connection, and has given me ample opportunities to try and learn new things about how to deal with it and now I’m at that point where I can share those things with you as well.
- Truly Feel the Feeling
Mastin Kipp (a personal development speaker) often talks about trauma, and he once said that trauma creates an inflexible nervous system. As I’ve gotten to know my own body and how I feel like it is functioning in its different states, I’ve often had difficulty feeling out if my body is sending me bad gut feelings in certain situations, or if my body is reacting to something based on old thoughts and is THAT afraid of the unknown. The reason I say this is because I’ve had my nervous system tighten up so much at times that the nervous body reaction and the reaction from a bad gut feeling have felt nearly identical to me. For instance, the first time I got on a plane a few years ago, I was excited at first, but once I got on the plane, my stomach tightened up so much that I thought it was a signal that something was going to go wrong. Of course, the flight was perfect and everything was fine.
I’ve also had similar reactions before getting into certain relationships (romantic or work-related), and in some of those instances my gut felt the same as it did getting on the plane, and I did decide to listen to my gut and was definitely better off for it to not get into some of those situations. Because of this, there have been many instances in recent history that have brought potential opportunities to my doorstep, and I either teeter-totter around making the decision, or have become really stressed about making any decisions because it has felt near impossible to make some decisions because of how triggered my system has been. So I have often taken safer routes and have said no to some things, and potentially those things could’ve been a yes and maybe would’ve brought great abundance, rewards or good life experience.
So where is this going and what does it have to do with anxiety? If you have tons of fears stored in your body, and if your nervous system reacts in such a way that doesn’t “flow” or “flex” well, those feelings stored in the body can make it very difficult to move forward in your life. So during those times when you’re in anxious mode and if you’re in a comfortable place at home or wherever that may be for you, take the time to truly let those feelings be there. What can you learn from the feelings that are at the surface? Do they have a story to tell you? Can you talk to the feelings as if it were a person or a friend? If so, what would they say, and why?
The more you can understand what’s going on at the inner level, the more tools you have to free yourself from the chains you’ve wrapped around you (often unconsciously done). Let the feelings come to the surface, and if they release, that’s just one step closer to healing those internal wounds and triggers that could be causing your anxiety.
- Seek out a Holistic Practitioner
Obviously this tip isn’t something you can do in the present moment to calm your anxiety on the spot, but I absolutely would not be where I’m at today if it hadn’t been for the help and healing from multiple holistic practitioners or naturopaths that I’ve worked with over the last 10 years or so. I’ve received help in the form of NSA chiropractic work, craniosacral/massage therapy, acupuncture, quantum-touch and sound therapy, total body modification, and hypnotherapy. These modalities combined with my own diligence and drive to heal, learn about my own body, and having trust in the process have been the keys to my own healing progression and getting relief from anxiety and my spasm issues. Like many things in this world, it is a process and the answer might not always come in one “ah-ha” moment, but with time and patience and being open for trying something new, you can meet a lot of helpful and amazing people along the way.
Again, these are things that have helped me personally, and your journey or chosen healing methods may differ greatly than my own. Always follow your own intuition as best you can (even if you’re unsure as I mentioned above).
I hope anything I’ve mentioned can potentially provide you with some answers or hope in regards to your own healing journey. If you have any general questions about my experiences, feel free to drop them in the comments! Also, please feel free to share your own personal favorite modalities, or tell us how you deal with anxiety in your own life! Until next time, thanks for reading!