A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety. – Aesop
Just back from vacation, I feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to climb back into the saddle and give life another ride. My family and I spent 10 amazing days at the beach where we played in the ocean, ate some delicious seafood and lounged in our beach chairs every afternoon.
Besides enjoying time with Mary Beth, Caitlin and Emily, I wanted to use the vacation as a reset for my attitude – and for my anxiety level.
Over the past few months, I’ve been open about suffering from an anxiety disorder that started after my brother died. A few weeks before vacation, I was able to shake my embarrassment and ask my doctor for some relief. Even though I’ve worked with a grief counselor, the anxiety has done a number on my brain’s serotonin levels. I needed a little boost.
The doctor prescribed a 20mg daily dose of Fluoxetine and then informed me that it would take about three weeks before I realized the benefit of the medication. I knew if I could hang on for three more weeks and make it to the beach; I would have a chance to reclaim some hope, regain a little optimism and see my confidence return.
Making the appointment with my doctor was a good thing to do when I felt the most anxious because hope is returning; the days ahead have never looked brighter; and rather than feeling like a broken person for having to take medication, I know that I have given myself the best care possible – no justification needed.
10 Good Things
The Fluoxetine and a much-needed vacation have contributed to a decrease in my anxiety. But I know to maintain this momentum I need to continue doing good things for myself.
While I’m not an expert in the treatment for anxiety disorders, I do know what works for me. Here are 10 good things I do when I feel anxious. These are the things that will keep hope flowing and my optimism soaring. I hope these good things can help you, too:
- Talk to someone
Once I moved past the embarrassment and asked for help, I was able to find another level of relief. Anxiety isn’t a disease, it’s an emotion that can be reasoned with once you get more allies on your side.
- Accept the anxiety
Fighting the anxiety only makes it worse. When you feel a surge in your anxiety, acknowledge what’s happening. Simply go along with it and don’t allow it to be responsible for how you think or feel.
Walk, run or swim – do whatever you like, but start moving so you mind will shift its focus from ruminating on the anxiety and to enjoying a release of healing endorphins.
- Direct the anxiety into something positive.
Find someone who needs you and lend him or her a helping hand.
- Listen to music
Grab your smartphone and earphones and plug into the music you enjoy most when working, cleaning the house, or exercising. Allow the music to take you to a more peaceful place.
Take control of your email’s Inbox, desk or the neglected closet. Clutter creates a sense of chaos and can be overwhelming. But by clearing the clutter around you, you can also feel the clutter in your mind, the anxiety, begin to be cleared away too.
- Discover your anxiety-reducing diet
Find what work best for you. For me, it’s reducing caffeine, limiting alcohol, eating plenty of fruits and vegetables and reducing the carbs I eat. Fatty, greasy foods can make you feel lethargic, and perhaps guilty, which could increase your anxiety.
- Smile and laugh
When the anxiety begins to swell, try laughing at it. Understand the anxiety isn’t who you are – it’s just how you feel in that moment. Think positively and push aside the negative thoughts with a smile. I often shake my head, laugh, and say, “Oh, it’s you again. You won’t get the best of me this time.”
- Visualize something good
Think of a scene or memory that calms you. Also known as guided imagery, this technique gives you the opportunity to be totally drawn into the image where the anxiety has never been.
- Show your gratitude
Take time every day to consider what you are grateful for in your life. Consider the big and small things from your relationship to enjoying a beautiful morning. When you focus on what’s good, more of it will come into your life. And by filling up on more good things, there will be less room for the anxiety to exist.