Anxiety, what an ugly word. If you have ever experienced it before, just hearing the word anxiety might stress you out. I have, unfortunately, dealt with anxiety for years. I want so badly for things to go well, that I tend to overthink things and get nervous about them. As a nurse, I was taught to see the signs and symptoms of things that could go wrong in hopes of preventing a patient from deteriorating early on and to be able to put a plan in place to prevent things from going downhill quickly. Unfortunately, it’s hard to turn that off in my personal life. I have learned several tricks and tips over the years that work really well for squelching my anxiety and helping to calm my mind and body down. I’ll list them quickly here, and then give an explanation of each below.
- Make sure you are hydrated. Ditch the caffeine and, drink lemon or coconut water instead.
- Breathe-take a big, deep breaths and exhale slowly or try the 4-7-8 breathing technique listed below.
- Eat frequent, high protein snacks, with a little fat and fiber to combat blood sugar swings.
- Get enough sleep the night before an important event. Take an Epsom salt bath to help you relax and get quality sleep.
- Use high-quality essential oils such as Young Living’s Lavender, Stress Away, or Peace and Calming.
- Use some magnesium.
- Before a big event, test, meeting or speech, think positive thoughts. Think of all the ways you could succeed.
Do you know that anxiety is not just psychological? Our bodies are definitely affected by our thoughts, but there are also physiological aspects of it too. Things like, dehydration, caffeine, not enough sleep or not enough quality sleep, low blood sugar, stress, and hormones are just some of the things that can affect our body and lead to anxiety.
Ask yourself, are you hydrated? When was the last time you drank water? Our bodies are made up of about 60% water. Our brain and heart are about 70% water. Our organs can’t function their best without being hydrated.
One of the first things I do when I feel anxious is drink water. Sometimes it has even helped my heart stop racing. I actually have started to drink lemon water in the mornings instead of coffee. I know how hard it is to give up your morning coffee. You could drink it later in the day if you really feel you need it. I actually have felt more energetic on the mornings that I start my day with lemon water. Coconut water is another great choice. It is a good source of important electrolytes like potassium. Stress leaches magnesium and potassium from our bodies and being low in these important electrolytes can lead to a whole myriad of symptoms. I prefer Harmless Harvest Coconut Water. Both because it tastes great, and because it’s ethically sourced. There is even a coupon for Harmless Harvest Coconut water right now on Ibotta.
One of the other most important things I do is breathe! When we are busy and running around trying to finish a project or get the kids off to school, sometimes we don’t breathe well. Take a few, short, deep breaths and breathe out slowly.
The best way to do this is called the 4-7-8 method. You can do this before going on stage for a speech, before a test, or even in a crowded room. Take a deep breath in for 4 seconds, hold that breath for 7 seconds, and then breath out slowly for a count of 8 seconds. Do a few repetitions of this counted breathing. The 4-7-8 breathing tool has really helped me in the past. It helps my kids calm down when they are upset, and I even use it at night to help me fall asleep faster. It has been known to stop a panic attack, but please try it before panic sets in. One of the ways our lungs detox is by breathing deeply. You can do it if you are stressed, during a long meeting, before you get on stage to give a speech, on a subway or plane, sitting in traffic or just about anywhere.
Blood sugar highs and lows can also contribute to feelings of anxiety. Before an important event, be sure to eat some protein, fiber, and a little fat. A handful of nuts is a really good snack choice, or even a piece of cheese, a boiled egg, or veggies and dip, and a few crackers. Be sure to eat something small every few hours during a busy project or before a big event, and especially during times when you aren’t able to get enough sleep. I know it’s tempting to grab a latte, but both caffeine and sugar can cause blood sugar to drop hours later. If you feel you need caffeine at least eat a nutritious snack with it.
One of my favorite tools to combat stress is essential oils. I love Young Living’s Lavender Essential Oil. I use it before bed to help me relax and sleep well. If I’m nervous about something in the morning, I will rub a little Lavender mixed with coconut oil on my lower back, and it usually calms me right away. You can also diffuse lavender.
Two of my other favorite oils from Young Living that help with stress are Peace and Calming and Stress Away (you can get them here). Peace and Calming can be applied topically, smelled or diffused. I keep a bottle in my car for when traffic is crazy. Sometimes I put a drop over my heart or on my inner arm. Stress Away has Lime and Vanilla in it, which helps it smell like a tropical vacation. It also contains Cedarwood, which is known to calm the brain. Sometimes I just smell it from the bottle, but I also have a vent diffuser for my car. A simple way you can make one is to put a drop of essential oil on a wooden clothespin, and clip it to your car vent or your visor. If you want to get fancy, you can glue a piece of felt to the clothespin and put a drop or 2 of essential oils on that. I have even been known to place a drop of peppermint on a kleenex or cotton ball, and stick it in the vent of my car on a trip, but that’s another story for another day. Both Peace and Calming and Stress Away are now available in a handy roller bottle too.
There is also essential oil jewelry that you can put essential oils on and wear all day. If you are afraid the smell might bother others around you, a great tip is to put the oils on the bottom of your feet. Then they will still be effective as they will travel through the cells of your body, yet not permeate the room since your feet will be covered. I buy my essential oils from Young Living because I know their purity and ethical standards, and I have had great results from using them. I will post a link to YL below. Feel free to ask me any questions about essential oils by commenting below.
Another thing to do is the night before an important meeting or event, take an Epsom salt bath. You can find Epsom salts at most drug stores. Measure up 1-2 cups of Epsom salts, add a few drops of lavender or another relaxing essential oil, and then run it under hot water into a bath. You can also add this to a foot soak. Your body will absorb the magnesium from the Epsom salts in the water. Most Americans do not have enough magnesium, and we burn through it during times of stress. If you don’t have time for a bath, another suggestion is to use a magnesium spray, like the one from Ancient Minerals. I use this often. I spray my feet, and then rub it in before I go somewhere or before bed. You can find Ancient Mineral products on their website or on Amazon.
Think positive thoughts. Instead of worrying about everything that could go wrong, think of all of the ways you could succeed. Pray, stretch, focus on your goal and take control of the thoughts you have. Make sure they are positive. Many times the things we worry about never happen.
*These are suggestions about what has worked for me. This is not medical advice. If you have stress or anxiety that is negatively affecting your life, family, or job, please talk to your physician.
You can sign up for a Young Living Membership to get a 24% discount on essential oils here, and you can also purchase single oils at the retail price. Please do not buy essential oils off of places like Amazon. YL members know they are not supposed to sell them there, and it’s easy to remove the cap and add anything to it. I believe nice shampoo companies also offer this warning. I love the convenience of Amazon, but certain things like essential oils should be purchased from an educated member or directly from the company itself. If you do it this way, you will also receive a lot of valuable education and support.