15 Ways to Ease Your Anxious Mind

how-to-ease-your-anxiety

15 Ways to Ease Your Anxious Mind

Have I ever told you guys that I have really bad dental phobia?

As a child, I had a really bad experience at the dentists’ office that pretty much left me scarred for life. I get paranoid even when going for a 6-month checkup/cleaning. Few months ago, I actually started crying during a treatment. No, I wasn’t in pain. I was just scared. It’s that bad. I don’t really know what it is that I’m afraid of. I start sweating at the sound of the dental drill. I don’t know if it’s the fear of pain, the fact that someone shoving their hands down my throat has me feeling like I’m about to suffocate or that I’m a germophobe and can’t help but think “Are those tools really clean? Are the gloves he’s wearing? Do they even clean this chair I’m lying on?

So, last week I had a bit of a stressful time at work- which happens a lot when you’re trying to beat some very important deadlines. The following day, I was able to take some work home and work out of the office- sounds nice, doesn’t it? Except that on my way home I got a text message from my Dentist’s office reminding me “Your appointment is tomorrow at 4pm. See you then!” Well….f*ck. From that point on, I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. I was already feeling stressful and anxious and last thing I needed was sitting in that chair for an hour getting a root canal done, wondering if I’ll come out of there alive.

Guys, I am not exaggerating. Can anyone relate? Because everyone keeps telling me that it’s not normal to be this nervous about going to the dentist’s. I was sitting in that chair and I swear that I almost had a full-on panic attack. My heart felt like it was about to pop out of my chest, I was shivering, sweating but freezing cold at the same time and constantly holding my breath.

At one point, my doctor asked if I’m feeling ok (he knows all about my anxiety) and when I said lied “yes, why?” he answered “because I don’t think you’re breathing.” Ahh, yes. The first sign of stress or anxiety that I (and probably many of you) experience, is shortness of breath. In stressful situations, I kind of tend to hold my breath in anticipation of something “bad” happening. It’s something that sort of happens involuntarily. So, one of the most important things that you can do when you start feeling anxious, is breathe. And do so slowly.

Well.. duhhh, how can you forget to breathe? It’s not so much about remembering to breathe, as it is about noticing when [in stressful situations] your breath becomes rapid and shallow, and immediately trying to stabilize it. This is something that always works for me: place your hand on your belly and take a deep breath through your nose filling your lower lungs (expending your stomach, rather than your upper chest). Exhale slowly and repeat. Do this a few times until your breath stabilizes and is no longer rapid and shallow. You’ll notice yourself feeling a bit more calm and at ease. These are some of my other favorite ways of calming anxious mind and body:

1. Try essential oils. Lavender has a calming and relaxing effect, Rose can be very soothing when you feel emotional and Chamomile can decrease irritability. You can use them in a bath and massage them into your wrists (as long as you’re not allergic). I love using a diffuser.
2. Omega 3 supplementation. There are numerous studies linking anxiety and other mood disorders with low blood levels of omega-3 fats. Low intake of omega-3 is also known to change the functioning of serotonin and dopamine.*
3. Yoga. Yoga helps your body release the tension that’s trapped between your muscles. Try some of these yoga poses to help ease your mind and body.
4. Listen to music. Really listen to music. Don’t do anything else. Put on your headphones, close your eyes and listen.
5. Practice Mindfulness. Let yourself feel. Mindfulness involves awareness; paying attention to and accepting present moment. Acknowledge the fact that you’re feeling anxious. Don’t look for distractions; surrender. Try to observe your thoughts, without judgment and realize that they’re just that: thoughts.
6. Meditate (you can start right here).
7. Limit your caffeine intake. It’s no secret that if you suffer from anxiety, caffeine is not your friend- it increases your heart rate can and can worsen your anxiety symptoms, making you jittery and nervous.
8. Try lemon balm. Lemon balm has been used to calm the mind for centuries. The leaves of the plant contain terpenes—organic compounds playing some role in its perceived calming effect. You can try lemon balm tea, supplements or oils to help you with anxiety.
9. Talk it out. Whether it be talking to a friend or writing in a journal. Talk it out. Cry, if you have to. Sometimes, all you need to do to feel better, is to just let it all out.
10. Spend time in nature. Is there anything more soothing than spending time in a quiet, peaceful place somewhere in a park or a forest?
11. Take a nap. Give yourself a break. Turn off your phone, wear your favorite pjs and take a nap.
12. Do something creative. Creating something can be a powerful tool for reducing anxiety. Things like drawing, cooking, photography, writing- they all can be very soothing.
13. Laugh it off. Okay, so last week I had a few of those draining days at work. I came home, we had dinner and then I was getting ready to do some laundry when one of those “Top 20 Funniest”  shows came on TruTv. You know, it’s this dumb show that shows short clips of people doing something really, REALLY stupid. I ended up watching that crap for 2 hours. I sat on the floor, completely forgot that I was supposed to fold those 2 loads of laundry sitting next to me, and I laughed so hard that I even shed a few tears. By the time I went to sleep, I felt so much better. I literally felt the tension leave my body with each time I laughed.
14. Snack on some chocolate. Like you ever needed an excuse for that, amiright? Pure dark chocolate (one without the added sugars or milks) is  a great stress-reducer. It reduces cortisol- the stress hormone that causes anxiety symptoms.
15. Give yourself a massage. When you’re stressed or anxious, your body tenses up. Release that pressure by giving yourself a massage- you can use yoga balls like these.

Whatever it is that you feel anxious about; your job, your family, your relationships, maybe you find yourself feeling anxious for no reason, at times,  find a calming and soothing routine that works for you. Remember that breathing exercises are great for that immediate sense of relief.

how-to-ease-your-anxious-mind

  • Kat

    Hi, I am new to your blog as I found you on Instagram! Luv your blog and I am in the process of reading each and every entry!
    I am a very mindful person and try not to get anxious but all your tips are very helpful. Plan ahead and give yourself a treat when whatever you are anxious about is over. For instance, after your dental appt. and any freezing is gone plan on having a nice treat for dinner – if you luv pizza go for it !
    Please keep up,the good work and I am KatMagic Photography on Instagram now following you.
    Kind regards, Kat.

    • Thank you so much Kat! Treating yourself is definitely a nice concept, as having something to look forward to can help a bit! :)

  • Rebecca Fletcher

    I love meditating it eases my anxiety so much. Ive been looking into using essential oils and it sounds really good. I need to invest in some.

    http://www.beautylifebecca.blogspot.co.uk

  • So many great tips Paula! Meditation is something I’ve only recently taken up but I find it makes such a difference. Also, being creative really helps ease my anxiety, so if I need to take a break, I’ll often reach for something creative to work on :)
    – Ambar x
    http://www.herlittleloves.co.uk

  • Thanks for sharing your tips! I get anxious in crowds, that’s why I don’t enjoy shopping on weekends or going to clubs. I always try to calm down by telling myself that everything is alright and listening to music. x

    Lynn | http://www.nexttolondon.com

  • EdyeNicolesMakeup

    Chocolate, laughter, music and self massages are some great ideas!!! Loved the post xx

    Blessings,
    Edye | gracefulcoffee.wordpress.com

  • Issy Aldridge

    Such a useful post! Luckily, I never really have an issue with the dentist but I have major anxiety surrounding other situations. Definitely going to be trying some of these tips out.

    Love, Is from Five Foot Seven // http://www.five-foot-seven.blogspot.co.uk

  • Rhiannon Blewer

    I seriously need to start practicing mindfulness, I find my self getting anxious over the smallest of things lately and it’d getting quite scary!

    Really hope you find a method that works really well for you xo

    http://www.studentpaperie.co.uk

  • Anxiety is one of the worst things to deal with and it is really hard to get out of that feeling. I find music is something that really helps me. Also drawing is something that I find takes my mind off everything else and I focus on that and nothing else.

    EmmysBeautyCave | Bloglovin | ColourPop GIVEAWAY

  • Lavender has become my best friend for sleeping lately, it calms me down so much!

    • Kat

      Interesting to read this as I have recently discovered lavender for sleeping too!

  • jodie.keith

    I really like using max welts recently. I should try getting a plain one and adding some drops of essential oils, I reckon that would work really well to relax me! Great post!

    Jodie @ Jodetopia x

  • Love Love Love this post!! I’m starting a new job next week and have been soo anxious, i’m defiantly going to try some of tips! thanks for sharing xx

    Grace xx
    http://graciebellblogs.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Ah, I do try some of these tips, plus yes, chocolate helps a lot in easing anxiety. Lovely post.

    Chaste & Beautiful

  • I’ve wanted to try yoga for years and years now!
    Kathy x
    http://www.alongcamekathy.blogspot.co.nz

  • Paula, there’s nothing wrong with being anxious, everyone has different problem, and I don’t think anyone has any right to judge anyone else for that /hugs/ Music is the first thing I turn to, they’re amazing to calm my nerves, especially one with inspiring and encouraging lyrics.

    Selene Addicted

    • I wish I could relax enough during my dental visits to listen to my iPod, but I don’t think that would work haha ;)

  • Oooh, a good massage is always… a good thing :)
    I’ve never had trouble with dentist – I was terrified of needles though. Still not sure how I got over it; probably the sheer amount of blood tests I had to go through for the last couple of years did it, because I swear, I’d go mad if I had to survive a panic attack like this numerous times a day even. Hopefully one day yours will go too? One can dream.

    • Yes it is! :) Oh consider yourself lucky. Every time I go in, I’m convinced I’ll end up choking and dying haha ;)

  • Julie

    Paula, I have had the same problem with dental visits my whole life. In addition to holding my breath, though, I start shaking violently and cannot stop. My adrenaline rush is so bad that it makes ALL the numbing drugs useless. Laughing gas doesn’t help either. I commend you for going anyway and facing your fear. I could not do this and just didn’t go. Needless to say, I now have no teeth of my own. I got dentures, which was an ordeal too. I only did it because I was tired of the pain and ugliness of bad teeth. Please, let your dentist know how you are feeling. I did with the dentist who did my denture work and he was very attentive and would stop when I needed him to to let me calm down. They really want to help, you know. :-)

    • Thanks so much for sharing your experience Julie! When I had my wisdom teeth removed, I insisted on being put to sleep and ended up waking up a little right in the middle of the procedure (I tried pushing the doctor away haha). My dentist knows all about my anxiety and he’s really great. He said that sometimes the numbing injections can make the heart beat a little faster so next time (Tuesday- already feeling anxious!) he’ll use something else. He’s really nice- probably the only dentist I actually liked.

  • So many great tips here. I really struggle with anxiety and music is my go to thing! x

    http://www.57-days.blogspot.co.uk

  • I cab’t remember the last time I went to the dentist, I really hate the noise and the smell, it puts me under so much pressure and end up having cold sweats. Avoiding to go to the dentist is not the right thing to do, however, that dentist fear is real and I can’t seem to over come. When I am feeling nervous, I try to listen some calming music and lit up a really relaxing scented candle, it helps me feel better and calm down. I should stock some lemon balm tea, I haven’t seen it anywhere! Thanks for the tips, Paula, it is an amazing post :)

    Ela BellaWorld

    • Same here- that’s exactly how I feel. I don’t think that my dentist has a lot of patients with anxiety, but he is very kind and gentle. I wouldn’t trust going to anyone else. Music does wonders, I wish I could listen to it while getting work done, but I can’t haha.

  • I get anxious really easily over little things and I usually find that listening to music helps, I’ll definitely try some of your other tips next time I’m feeling anxious! x

    http://emmaboughtwhat.blogspot.co.uk/

  • All of these are excellent tips! Not only are they great tips to deal with anxiety, they are great just to deal with the everyday stresses of life! I started going to a Relax and Restore Yoga class last year and I always feel so much better after!

    Brittany | thechicette.com

  • These tips are great, Paula!

    Hugs, Hannie from Missing Wanderer

  • Phoebida x

    I’m definitely going to refer to this post next time I feel panicked. Great tips! xx

    Phoebe & Abida | phoebida.blogspot.co.uk

  • Yes to yoga, music and chocolate!

  • Gitana Deneff

    Yes to all of these, especially yoga and mindfulness. I really want to start using an oil diffuser actually. Might help calm me down as I’m trying to go to sleep!

    Good post!

    XX
    Gitana | Books & Bellinis | Instagram

  • Great Post! Yoga is my go-to for when I am anxious but I have been wanting to try essential oils. My mom is a dentist so I personally don’t have that same phobia but I have seen many of her patients with the same thing! I always feel so bad when I see how nervous people get when they come in to her office. :( Some of her patients have even passed out from being so nervous so don’t worry, you are not the only one who feels that way.
    Brooke | http://www.beautydecorandmore.com

    • Thanks so much Brooke! Oh you’re lucky that your mom is a dentist. :) Sometimes I feel like I’m the only patient who gets that nervous because the dental assistants always act so surprised at how anxious I get. My dentist is really nice and gentle though, I can’t imagine trusting anyone else now haha :)

  • I hate going to the dentist because I know I have bad teeth (from poor diet, years of not taking care of it, but doing my best to make up for lost time, lupus, meds I have to take, genetics), and I always get called out for it. I hate when the criticism, and I know I could improve. Even when I am flossing. I had a sedation procedure last year where they had to put my fillings for 4 hours. It was embarrassing. Now I owe a lot of money through CareCredit and I can’t go because I am looking for a full time job with benefits, or I have to wait until I get married in March to get under my fiance’s insurance. Oh yeah, I have been taking prednisone for 3 years which causes gum swelling. Keppra (a seizure medication) causes swelling too along with teeth grinding. I only found out last year that the keppra caused those things: my previous dentist never told me this. I am really really trying to keep my teeth in good shape, and I ought to cut down on candy and chips (especially because the chip particles get between each tooth…gross!)

    I feel amazing after yoga, especially Vinyasa yoga! My new favorite exercise is barre (particularly Bar Method and Physique 57), it emphasizes breathing, stretching, and core strength like yoga and Pilates. I feel so energized and calm, and I have been getting super toned muscles from it. It is amazing, you should try it!

    Hannah
    Floraful

    • Your dentist or anyone who works in the office should never make you feel embarrassed Hannah! When I went to see my doctor for the first time, I haven’t been to a dentist for years and he didn’t even say a word as to why I haven’t been seeing one for so long. So sorry that you felt embarrassed, you really shouldn’t!

      I really hope you’ll find a job with benefits really soon. March is right around the corner too though, by the time you know it, you’ll be married! I grind my teeth too, once you have insurance, see if your dentist can make you a custom night guard. Hope everything works out for you Hannah!

      That sounds lovely, I might have to give it a try!

  • Wow, reading about your anxiety made me have like, empathy anxiety for you. I’m sorry you have to go through that! I’m glad you’ve been able to find things to help ease it a little, though. #14 is full-on Remus Lupin and I absolutely love it! :)

    • Aw thanks Katie! Haha yes it is! If I could only produce a patronus to keep me company during treatment haha :)

  • Natalie Redman

    Loved reading this, I’ve been currently getting lots of anxiety but this will hopefully help ease it!

    Natalie-Ann x
    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • The Sunday Mode

    For me it’s not the dentist but I think it’s (triggers) are something different for everyone when you’re dealing with anxiety, you know?

    I find it so hard to take deep breaths when I’m having panic attacks and things like that but after I’ve calmed down a little I like to really talk things out to make myself feel better. I like to break down whatever I’m anxious about into more manageable chunks and then I try to figure out how to make myself feel better about each aspect.

    http://www.thesundaymode.com

  • Margaux White

    I’m 100% on the dark chocolate.
    Margaux ・ bonjourwhite.com

  • Elley Charles

    You are full of marvellous ideas & this post is absolutely amazing (just like every other post of yours). Such an inspiration Paula! I hate my anxiety, I get it often & especially at the dentist like you. In fact, I hate it so much I avoided going for about 5 years until I forced myself in the door, panic attack and all.

    Elley xx
    http://www.elleymae.com