how to cope with anxiety

DIY Anxiety Treatment: How to Cope with Anxiety Without Medication

A couple weeks ago, my husband packed up and headed into the mountains for four days. Is it just me, or do guys have the dumbest ideas? On what planet is that a vacation? No, I’m actually asking…

It’s also taking every ounce of my self-control not to analyze why my husband’s version of a vacation involves him hiding in the woods for days on end, unreachable. Uh…so what does that say about me and our marriage? Kidding. Sort of. All marriages could probably benefit from a few days of hiding. Kidding again. Or am I?

A few keys things to note here: 

  1. He’d never really gone hiking before. (What if he realizes halfway through that he can’t finish)?
  2. His trip coincided with Hurricane Matthew. (Oh good, he’ll slip on mud from all the rain and fall straight off the mountain. Cool).
  3. I suffer from anxiety on a normal day. (So let’s put her husband in the thick of the mountains where there’s no cell reception for days on end in the middle of a hurricane. Sure. She’ll handle that no problem).

To say that I was anxious about the entire situation is a gross understatement. The weeks leading up to his trip, I begged and pleaded for him not to go. What was a vacation for him was going to send me to an early grave.

I don’t take medication for my anxiety, so I’m crazy in tune with my body and recognizing when a panic attack could possibly strike. Feeling a panic attack coming on makes me feel violated, like I’m not in control of my body, thoughts, or emotions. It’s exhausting and terrifying. And I have a really hard time explaining my anxiety because to be quite honest, anxiety is rarely rational. And not being able to explain my anxiety makes me feel anxious. Go figure.

Knowing and recognizing your symptoms of anxiety is crucial.

Here’s what my symptoms of anxiety look like:

  1. My heart races and I have a hard time catching my breath.
  2. My mind races, flipping through every possible worst case scenario. Easing my mind is nearly impossible.
  3. My senses are exponentially and painfully heightened.
  4. This is sort of vague, but I don’t know how else to explain it. I feel completely panicky. Imagine how you might feel if you could see a lit candle toppling over in your living room but you’re strapped to the couch, unable to right the candle before it sets your home ablaze.

how to treat anxiety

My DIY Anxiety Treatment:

  • Know your limits. And recognize that it’s alright to remove yourself from any situation or conversation that sets off your anxiety. When my husband was in the mountain, my limit was certain conversations. When someone would start to express their own concerns about his hike/the weather/etc, I would kindly but firmly shut down the conversation, explaining that I simply could not handle it and asked them to respect that.
  • Create a calming environment. This can be any number of things, but for me it involves:
    • Comfortable clothing.
    • Fresh, warm scented candles.
    • Relaxation inducing essential oils: lavender, eucalyptus, rose, vetiver, ylang ylang, bergamot, chamomile, & frankincense. Many essential oil companies produce relaxation cocktails like the one featured above from Target.
    • Pet support. People might roll their eyes at the whole emotional support animals thing, but the results are undeniable. Snuggling has been scientifically proven to suppress your nervous system actually causing you to calm down. So get a dog. Or a cat. Or a snuggly Lizard, if you can find one.
  • Get fresh air. Gentle exercise and fresh air are known to reduce stress and lower your blood pressure, ultimately relieving you of anxiety-like symptoms.
  • Find support. Tell someone you trust how you’re feeling and specifically ask for their support. My girlfriends recognized my anxiety level surrounding the trip and made a point to keep me as occupied and wrapped in support as possible.
  • Do something you love. Bonus if it keeps your mind occupied. I was busy most of his hike with re-writing the copy for the Bliss Creative website and establishing this website. Both of which required a lot of concentration, thus keeping my mind perfectly occupied.
  • Know that feeling anxious is okay, and it will pass. I’ve learned that trying to ignore my anxiety only causes it to be more destructive. Instead, I recognize its presence and assure myself that I can cope my way through it.

I managed to escape the experience without an actual panic attack surprising pretty much everyone who knows me. I know…they all have such faith in me. ::eye roll:: Just kidding, that anxiety thing is a nasty bitch and is relentless when it rears its ugly head. Even I’m surprised I survived that his hike without a panic attack.

**It’s important to acknowledge here that I am in no way a medical professional, and there’s nothing wrong with taking medication.

I highly recommend seeking medical attention if you believe you suffer from anxiety**

For extra fun, I vlogged the day he left/his first night out in the woods if you’re interested in seeing how that day panned out!

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4 Comments

  1. Kimberley

    October 20, 2016 at 7:53 am

    What do you do with the oils? I have some natural air freshner with oil in them- but have no idea what to do with a jarful.

  2. Carly

    October 20, 2016 at 10:27 am

    It sounds like you have some great coping techniques for your anxiety! I’ve never tried essential oils, but always hear such good things!

  3. kristen

    October 20, 2016 at 10:41 am

    the other night KC went to the gym and i stayed home (i’d already been! i’m not lazy!). i had a shower and when i got out, i had a missed call from him. i tried to call him back, he didn’t answer. he doesn’t answer his phone in the gym so the logical reason is he’s probably at the gym working out, right? but no, my mind goes to the worst possible scenarios and i even contemplated calling the gym to see if they knew he made it alright. i didn’t. haha. i calmed down (or tried to) by doing something i loved, and counting down the minutes till i figured his workout would be over. i know it sounds ridiculous but yeah. i can’t imagine KC going to the mountains and being unreachable, i’d be a mess for sure.

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