I have previously stated in this article how many people who cope with mental illnesses and issues cannot rely on consistent treatment. The reasons why vary from person to person. For many, seeking treatment from a psychologist isn’t financially feasible, either because they aren’t covered by their insurance company or, in the case of low income people, there is no insurance to help at all. Other reasons include not being able to tell parents you need help or being ashamed of the problem itself. Even now, mental illness carries a great deal of stigma.
It’s also not always possible for people to treat their illnesses with medication — because it’s too expensive, because the medicine won’t work, or for many of the other reasons already mentioned. Even when people can get consistent help, it’s usually a long road to get medication, find a medication that works for your particular brain, and have it continue to help long-term.
General anxiety is something that affects many of us. If you’ve experienced a panic attack, you realize how uncomfortable and world-shatteringly terrifying the attacks can be. If excessive, uncontrollable, and even irrational worry plagues your everyday thoughts, you might deal with a General Anxiety Disorder.
We are not doctors at here at Positively Smitten, and we urge you to go to a doctor if at all possible as these are very serious issues. We also know that mental illness is not something that can be wished away, and, for many, at-home coping mechanisms may not even be a feasible option. However, if you must deal without medication or you don’t want to take medication, here are some techniques that might (and hopefully will) help, if even mildly.
Feelings of anxiety can be exhausting because they sap up so much energy just to experience and process. Instead, slow down. Try writing down what you’re feeling or even writing down something totally unrelated in an effort to distract you from your anxious feelings. But write it by hand instead of using your tablet, computer, or phone. The act of actually writing might stabilize your mood. If that doesn’t work, learn some yoga or t’ai chi and use it to your advantage. Maybe even try to meditate. I know, I know, these all sounds really bleeding obvious to you, but try it. Talk to yourself. Breathe.
Simmer Down Without the Tech
The light technology gives off actually lowers your levels of melatonin, a calming agent in your body. So if you can turn off the technology around you, you’re more likely to feel relaxed.
For some, just the use of technology can actually cause anxiety issues. Keeping up with every status or tweet or like or follow can make a person on edge. Cut back your use of sites that you know upset your balance; you can use sites that limit your use or blacklist certain sites altogether for you. (Here are some apps for your browsers that can help.)
Chill Safely With the Tech
There’s a new application for Droid called Self-help Anxiety Management (SAM). You can scale your anxiety and soon your triggers will reveal themselves. The application has many methods of trying to temper yourself too. I have just begun using it but I can definitely see it helping in the future. SAM is made only for droid but plenty of generic anxiety help apps are available for other phones.
There are plenty of Rainy-Mood-like sites available to help quell that storm. Here are a few for you:
- The Thoughts Room: a place for you to type things that are bothering you and watch them float away.
- The Dawn Room: similar to the Thoughts Room but a place for you to let the darkness go.
- Nebula Creator: create your own sparkly Nebula.
- Drifting Afternoon: a place where you make a cute bunny jump balloons.
- Weave Silk: create your own silk art.
- Rainy Mood: listen to the loveliness.
- One Moment Meditation: exactly what it sounds like.
Please provide more in the comments!
Watch Your Intakes
Food and Drink
Many foods and drinks can influence how you feel. In addition to writing down your external triggers it’s a good idea to keep a food and drink list for the same thing. Pay attention to your caffeine intake, heightened caffeine consumption can mimic the same tight chest, fast heartbeat, short of breath feeling one gets with a panic attack. Many drinks don’t say how much caffeine is actually in the drinks, you can find lists online (as a quick note: all coffee, most black tea, and darker sodas will generally have the most caffeine per ounce).
There is also a drink called Marley’s Tea that has worked well for me. Invest in good chamomile tea. Try using lavender and eucalyptus scents in your home (you can also use culinary grade lavender in cooking). Eat fennel.
Herbs and Vitamins
As I mentioned earlier, melatonin is something that naturally calms you and helps normalize your sleep pattern. If you are having problems sleeping in addition to anxiety issues, you may want to try an OTC melatonin supplement.
In addition to melatonin there are several natural things you can try that you should be able to find at your local pharmacist. Lemon balm, passionflower, and valerian root are all herbal supplements that might help general anxiety. Please follow all directions on the bottle, including talking to your doctor, etc. Keep in mind many supplements need continual use to make a change, follow the directions. Also, research any side effects before beginning use. Many of the herbal supplements can make you drowsy (similar to many prescription anxiety medications) so again it’s a good idea to write down exactly how it interacts in your body so you can know for future use.
Finally, l-theanine is an amino acid that has been found to reduce physical and mental stress without the risk of drowsiness.
These things may or may not work, similar to prescriptions, with anything you need to find what works for your mind and body and it might be a long road. It takes constant motivation (which is sometimes really hard to find when coping with anxiety) and puzzle solving ability, but you can do it. This is why it will help you a bunch in the long run if you write everything down. Write down the things that trigger your anxiety and soon you will see your ups and downs. They might not go away, but it might make it more manageable.
Please feel free to provide any helpful hints to us and others in the comments!