Here’s some things that worked for me until I got better control on my anxiety:
1. Get your thyroid checked, if you haven’t already. Thyroid imbalances can cause anxiety/depression. Actually, get all your bloodwork done! Things you didn’t even realize could be causing increased anxiety symptoms to include hormonal imbalances (I have PCOS), vitamin deficiencies (I have low Vitamin D), etc. Rule out easy(ier) fixes like that before going medication route.
2. Cut out caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine amped me up to where I felt in a constant state of tension. Alcohol became easily abused because for once I was feeling better, but too much would cause anxiety symptoms and lead to an attack (think dizziness, feeling hot in the face and neck, etc.)
3. Aromatherapy. Your sense of smell is HIGHLY linked to memories and is one of your most powerful senses. Scents like lavendar, peppermint, and eucalyptus all have very calming effects on the mind and body. You can diffuse them, apply them topically, even ingest some. Also, peppermint is a natural anti-nausea which I’d get when anxious. I keep altoids with me and pop a few when I feel anxious or nauseous. Double duty!
4. Mindfulness. This. is. huge. Anxiety is the devil of getting lost in the future. You need to be able to bring yourself back to the present. Find something that you can do/picture in your head while breathing in for 3 counts, out for 6, until you start to relax. Sometimes I’ll try to picture a blank peice of paper, or if you have a favorite song you can play on your phone with headphones, I’ve even kept rubber bands on my wrists before and snapped them a few times (not super hard, but) hard enough to feel a little sting that redirects my thoughts. I saw a PP mention something about telling yourself that you’ve gotten through it before, you’ll get through it again. HUGE. After major anxiety attacks, half the battle is just being scared to have another.
5. Find someone to talk to. Friend, family, SO, whatever. Sometimes you just need to call someone to talk and distract you about anything. For some reason, my anxiety would get really bad on my way home from work. I think it was the quiet. I’d call someone to chat about my day, or ANYTHING, while focusing on calm breathing until I could get home to SO, or whatever.
6. Definitely second the yoga or exercise of some sort.
7. OH! Last, but not least for me…. learn your bodies first tell that you’re feeling anxious. It could be anything. Maybe your breathing picks up, your heart flutters, you start talking fast, picking your face/hands/whatever. Learn that sign. And learn to the second you notice it, shut that shit DOWN. “I’m fine, I’m safe, etc”. Practice your mindfulness/being present mantra immediately until it goes away. Don’t feed it, don’t panic. There’s nothing wrong with you, your body is going haywire (anxiety as a separate entity). If you can calm your mind, tell your body to get its shit together, whatever you gotta do. I’ve had plenty of times where I feel my mind start cycling, and then my heart starts going and my hands get clammy, and then I stop. I literally tell myself “Stop it, Margaritaville. You are fine. Everything is just fine. Get your shit together.” Sometimes the nonsensical yelling at myself makes me laugh enough to shake it off.