Throughout my healing journey I came across countless tips, tools, methods, practices, and advice. Some of which helped me greatly, while others didn’t have quite the same effect.
I want to share with you one of the things that helped me the most in recovering from anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia... Bringing it back to the basics! I’m talking about the stuff that makes you roll your eyes and think, how the heck is that going to help me overcome anxiety, panic disorder, or agoraphobia? People often overlook the basics, or they consciously choose not to put their efforts into practicing these basic healthy habits because they convince themselves that these things won't help them before they even give them a true shot. Don’t do this to yourself!
And feel free to roll your eyes at any or all of these tips, but I want you to keep an open mind, because I don’t share things unless they’ve been proven to help me and others!
01. Remove caffeine from your diet (for now). I know, I know… Nobody wants to hear this one (or you're sick of hearing it), but it’s huge when it comes to anxiety recovery, especially if you struggle with panic attacks. And I’m not talking just coffee, I’m talking all things caffeine. This means soda, chocolate, tea, and energy drinks.
Here’s something that will probably surprise you… Caffeine itself doesn’t actually cause anxiety. Whoa, right? Let me explain! Caffeine is a stimulant that can turn on the fight-or-flight response, and when you feel the sensations and symptoms of the fight-or-flight response, it can cause your brain to start thinking about how you feel, ultimately taking you to the place of what-ifs and even more symptoms. In short, caffeine can cause or increase symptoms that mimic those of anxiety. So it’s not actually the caffeine itself that leads to the anxiety, it’s the symptoms in combination with your thoughts that does it.
Give it a shot! Try removing caffeine from your diet for a few weeks and see if you notice a difference. I bet you will! And removing caffeine from your diet for now doesn't mean that you'll never be able to have it again.
02. Drink more water. Your body needs water to survive, right? But what’s often forgotten about is how much your brain depends on water. If you’re dehydrated or not getting quite enough water in a day, it’ll lead to symptoms that can then lead to anxiety (much like how caffeine leads to symptoms that then lead to anxiety). Symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, lightheadedness, dizziness, and irritability. Drinking lots of water can not only prevent these symptoms, it can also improve your mood, your mental clarity, and your energy levels. Don’t underestimate the power of drinking water!
03. Make sleep a priority. I used to prioritize everything over sleep! Just one more show, or a little more scrolling through social media, or one more load of laundry. But especially since becoming a mom, I have such a deep appreciation for sleep. NOTHING, and I mean nothing, comes before me and my 8 hours of sleep. Just like my 3-year-old daughter, I am on a sleep schedule. This means that I go to bed at the same time every night and I wake up at the same time every morning, weekends included! Sticking to a sleep schedule will help you to get better sleep, and it’ll help you to eliminate the symptoms, anxiety, and panic.
04. Start giving yourself kind messages often. Yes, I mean actually saying kind messages to yourself out loud every day. I know that this might sound super silly but it will help you tremendously! One of the toughest things in any recovery journey is having confidence in yourself, in your abilities, and believing that you will overcome what you’re currently struggling with. And something that will help you to build your self-confidence and help you to know that you are capable of overcoming what you’re currently struggling with is to be kind and gentle with yourself. You are struggling with something that is tough and you’re doing a good job.
05. Limit, and be mindful about the information you’re taking in on social media. Back when I was struggling with anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, Facebook groups and Instagram weren't nearly as popular as they are now. I honestly have such mixed emotions about Facebook groups and Instagram. These platforms can be such amazing places for healing and growth, but they can also lead to, and heighten, anxiety and fears.
Start by bringing awareness to how much time you’re spending on social media and also to what groups and pages you follow. If you notice that your mood decreases, symptoms increase, or your mind starts to fill with lots of worry and fear after scrolling, take a look at reducing how much time you spend on social media and make some changes to what/who you follow. Groups and pages on social media should support your growth and healing, not add to what you’re currently struggling with.
06. Do something that you enjoy every day, and express gratitude for it! It doesn’t matter if it’s something as small as playing with your dog, going for a short walk, cooking up a yummy meal, reading, dancing, singing, listening to music, or connecting with a friend. Do something that you enjoy doing every single day. Something that makes you smile, something that brings you joy, something that makes you feel good. And express gratitude for it! Being grateful for these things will help your mind to put more time and focus on the good, which will help to bring more goodness into your life.
07. Move your body! I know, this is another one of those annoying ones, but moving your body every day will help to relieve anxiety and the symptoms. Moving your body relieves stress, helps to get you present, and improves your physical, mental, and emotional health. Do what works for you! You don't need to do an intense workout program, you just need to move your body by doing things that you enjoy doing. Maybe it's going for a walk in nature, or playing a sport that you enjoy, or playing with your pets or kids. For me, it looks like walking outside, or on my treadmill for 30 minutes a day, and also running through the rooms of our house and jumping on the bed with my daughter (which she thoroughly enjoys).
There is so much power in the basics. When we don’t feel well, or when we’re anxious, we often think that something must be horribly wrong. When in reality, we just need more water, more sleep, more kindness, more time spent doing things we enjoy, and less time spent on unhealthy habits.
Don’t lose sight of the basics. Healthy habits and the small steps will help you to overcome anxiety, panic, and agoraphobia!