When I started my recovery journey from anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia, I truly had no idea where to start. I already felt so tired and overwhelmed every day, and the thought of putting in any “extra” effort only added to the feeling of overwhelm. Here’s the thing… Recovery is a journey. I know that you want anxiety and panic to go away RIGHT NOW, but like with any recovery, it takes a little time and lots of conscious effort.
But don’t worry, I’m here to make your journey a little less hard and a lot less overwhelming!
Start by writing down your goals. Yes, your ultimate goal is probably to overcome anxiety, panic disorder, or agoraphobia, but you’ve got to start with the goals that will help you to get there. Like what do you want to do but feel you aren’t currently capable of? Here are what some of my goals used to look like:
Ride in cars for long periods of time
Go into stores by myself
Once you write down your goals, pick one goal (yes, just one!). And start with the smaller goals, not the big ones! Overwhelming yourself by trying to overcome it all at once is only going to add to your struggles.
Next, make a list of small steps you can take that will help you to reach that one goal. Here’s an example:
Ride in cars for long periods of time
Take a 15 minute drive around my neighborhood with someone that I trust.
Take a 30 minute drive out of my neighborhood with someone that I trust.
Take a day trip with someone that I trust.
Take a 15 minute drive around my neighborhood by myself… And so on!
Taking small steps on a consistent basis will help you to reach your goals. And you will experience setbacks along the way, and that's okay! Setbacks are a part of the recovery process, and they don't mean that you aren't capable. If you'd like some tips on pushing past setbacks, head here!
Here are some other things that will help you when you’re just starting out:
1. Eliminate caffeine from your diet, especially if you experience panic attacks. If you’re ready to skip over this section because you’re thinking, ‘No, I will not do that Shannon.’ Hear me out! I used to drink 2-3 cups of black decaf coffee every day, simply because I loved the taste of coffee. But once I eliminated coffee from my diet I noticed a huge improvement in my anxiety levels.
And caffeine isn't just coffee. It could be energy drinks, soda, tea, or overdoing it on chocolate... When I began working to eliminate caffeine from my diet, I found other alternatives, things like caffeine free tea and seltzer water. And trust me, I will never fully eliminate dark chocolate from my diet, but I do make sure to only eat a couple of pieces a day. And I know, life isn't quite the same without caffeine, but caffeine isn't worth you experiencing anxiety and panic! Caffeine typically causes and heightens anxiety and panic, so take some small steps to eliminate it from your diet.
2. Share what you’re struggling with! Like actually share the hard stuff that you’re going through… Your thoughts, fears, worries, and experiences. Sharing what you’re struggling with will give you extra support and will help you to process what you’re struggling with. You don’t have to struggle alone! My Instagram community is a great place to share your struggle and gain some support from me, and others that are on a similar journey as you.
Or if you’re not yet comfortable sharing your struggle with others, write down what
you’re struggling with. Writing these things down will also help you to process what you’re going through. And getting it all out of your brain and on paper will help you to let go of these things, and will prevent the cycle in your mind from continuing to play, which is ultimately causing anxiety, panic, and the symptoms.
3. Implement healthy habits! Here are some things that I highly recommend doing every day:
Drink lots of water!
Move your body for 30 minutes.
Give yourself positive, healthy, productive, and kind messages.
Put you first! Make time for you, for self-care, and set boundaries with you and with others.
These things might seem silly and simple, and also not related to anxiety and panic in any way, but these things will help to relieve anxiety and panic!
Remember, start small. It’s the consistent steps forward, along with healthy habits that will allow you to reach your goals and ultimately overcome anxiety, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.
And if you want some support and a little push from yours truly, I’d love to help you reach your goals! Head here if you’d like to work with me one-on-one!