What Does Anxiety Look and Feel Like?
For a person with anxiety, life can seem almost impossible sometimes. But it is possible to alleviate and prevent anxiety naturally!
I know what anxiety is like all too well, and I applaud you for just being here looking for answers to help manage yours naturally. It takes a lot of courage to want to change and improve your happiness. Kudos to you for having that desire!
When anxiety hits, it becomes really difficult for me to get anything done. I experience muscle tension, feeling overwhelmed and restless, nausea, and an urge to avoid everything and get away. At it’s worst, my anxiety is paralyzing, and it has a huge effect on my productivity and happiness.
But anxiety looks different for everyone. There are so many different ways it can show up:
- Racing heart
- Rapid breathing
- Chest tightness
- Feeling too hot/cold
- Dry mouth
- Having a lump in your throat
- Feeling nauseous
- Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
- Having trouble concentrating
- Muscle tension
- Feeling restless
- Having trouble sleeping
- Racing thoughts
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Having lots of worries
- Feeling the urge to avoid and get away
And the list goes on!
So what do I do about it? What are some healthy, natural ways you can cope with these feelings? How can YOU work to bring YOUR anxiety levels down and alleviate some of these symptoms?
Below, I’m sharing 3 healthy tips I’ve found to help alleviate and prevent anxiety. All of them are easy levers to pull when you’re stuck in an anxiety-ridden space and you need some relief.
3 Healthy Tips to Alleviate and Prevent Anxiety
I know, I know, we’ve all heard this one before, but have you ever truly practiced this?
One of the reasons anxiety is so persistent is because the body gets stuck in a chronic “fight or flight” mode, where the sympathetic nervous system is highly active. This “fight or flight” response is what our early caveman ancestors needed to run away from a saber-tooth cat. At one point useful, but now? Not so much.
(There aren’t any saber-tooth cats after you looking to eat you, I promise. Though I know sometimes it can FEEL that way!)
When anxiety hits, it’s likely because your sympathetic nervous system is overactive and very much “online.” By simply shifting your focus to your breath and getting in some deep breathing, you can re-engage your PARASYMPATHETIC nervous system — also known as your “rest & digest” nervous system.
It really is as simple as focusing on your breath. Try this.
Find a place to sit or lie comfortably, preferably in a position with a straight spine. Close your eyes if you can. Take a big inhale through your nose. Focus on how the breath feels inside your nostrils and flows down into your lungs. Expand your belly, diaphragm, and lungs. Breathe the air into places it hasn’t been for awhile. Focus on the feeling of the fresh oxygen expanding your body.
Exhale the air out slowly. If it feels best to let out a sigh and exhale through your mouth, do it! If it feels better to slowly exhale through your nose, do that! Honor what your body wants. And as you exhale, just like with the inhale, focus on how the breath feels coming out your mouth and/or your nose. Feel the contraction of your lungs and diaphragm as you release the breath.
When you’ve slowly squeezed all the air out of your lungs, inhale and repeat.
If you find your mind wandering, take a moment to be grateful for the thoughts that arise and then let them pass. If your mind is really racing, consider counting your inhales and exhales to give your mind something to focus on.
In as little as 2 minutes, this simple breathing technique will start to bring your “rest & digest” nervous system back online. Extend this practice out to 5 or even 10 minutes, and you’ll enjoy deeper benefits for even longer. But in a pinch, even just 2 minutes will do!
Again, I know this sounds simple, but it really is that simple! The more frequently you can incorporate deep mindful breathing into your life, and the longer you practice, the more benefits you’ll experience in alleviating and preventing your anxiety.
Start Your Day with a Balanced, Anti-Inflammatory Meal!
One of the best things we can do to alleviate and prevent anxiety is to be proactive. One of the easiest ways to do that is to make sure you start the day off with a nutrient-dense, alkalizing (anti-inflammatory) meal.
I’ve found a common theme in working with clients with anxiety: they don’t eat anything for breakfast.
When you start the day with an empty energy tank and fuel it with an acidifying, pro-inflammatory RedBull or a conventional coffee loaded with cream and sugar, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
When chronic anxiety produces a constant “fight or flight” state, our bodies are being pumped with cortisol. This hormone is responsible to help us cope with stress, but when it’s overactive, it can fuel stress and anxiety! And, without getting into too much detail, cortisol has a relationship with our blood sugar levels.
When we are pumped with too much cortisol, don’t have any food in our bellies, and our blood sugar drops, we’ve created an environment ripe for anxiety to hit!
So, do yourself a favor: make it a healthy habit to get the day started off on the right foot.
I’ve seen huge improvements just from making this one proactive switch. (Even in my own personal routine, this one has a huge impact on my anxiety!) It can be as simple as whipping up an alkalizing green smoothie (You can check out an oldie-but-goodie recipe for one here.), or you can make yourself some overnight oats or chia seed pudding, if you need a quick grab-and-go breakfast.
The key is: a well-balanced, alkalizing meal will help keep your blood sugar stable and give you some vital nutrients to start your day with calm, peaceful, and sustainable energy.
Even if you miss breakfast and your anxiety starts to spike, remember: an alkalizing meal at ANY time of the day (free of food allergens and full of nutrient-dense, organic foods), can help to alleviate and prevent anxiety.
Helping my clients discover healthy food options that support their physical and mental health is my passion! If you want to know more about how we can work together to figure out the right nutrients and meals just for you, you can learn about that here.
Herbal Teas & Tonics can help to alleviate and prevent anxiety!
One thing I always have on hand for an anxiety spike is herbal teas and tonics that include adaptogens to help calm me down.
Adaptogens are beautiful herbs that literally “adapt” to whatever your body needs. They work with your adrenal glands (the glands that produce the hormone cortisol), and can help to bring your body back into “rest & digest” mode.
One of my favorite go-to adaptogens for a spike in anxiety is Holy Basil (aka Tulsi). I’ve been using a Stress Balance blend from Lifestyle Awareness brand for a few months now, and I love how quickly the calming effects hit me. It’s a great tea you can travel with, keep at the office, or stash in your pantry for a tough day.
Another of my favorite teas lately has been the Calm Buddha Blend from Buddha Teas. The combination of herbs helps bring my anxiety down, and it tastes great too! I particularly like this one at night because the addition of chamomile and lavender helps me to fall asleep.
To help alleviate and prevent my anxiety, I also use an herbal tincture: Lemon Balm. I love the product from Gaia Herbs, and I have been keeping it with me at all times. (I just keep it in my purse). Lemon balm is very calming to the nervous system, and it’s a great way to keep anxiety from getting out of control.
Are you looking for recommendations? Or are you not sure where to find herbs and products like these that can help you alleviate and prevent your anxiety? My online dispensary has these favorites of mine and lots of other supplements and products that can be super helpful. You can sign up for free and shop for them by following this link.
How to Be Proactive at Alleviating and Preventing Your Anxiety
Anxiety isn’t something that just “goes away.” It’s something we have to manage and be proactive in managing.
It’s just like stress. There are going to be stressors in life! Continuous stressors. We can’t change that fact. Life is going to continue to ebb and flow. What we can do is find healthy coping mechanisms to learn how to better respond to stress and anxiety when they do arise.
It’s two fold. The more proactive we are in taking care of ourselves, eating a healthy diet, and practicing a healthy lifestyle, the less impact anxiety will have on us. And when life gets crazy, chaotic, and stress and anxiety do start to creep in, we have to know what levers to pull in order to cope with it in a healthy, natural way.
I hope these 3 tips will get you started on a path to alleviating and preventing your anxiety in healthy ways. You can achieve anything you set your mind to, and I believe in you!
And remember: if you’re at a point where you’re ready for 1:1 support, accountability, and coaching to help reduce stress and alleviate anxiety, reach out and let’s get you on my calendar! I offer all prospective clients complimentary 30-minute strategy sessions where we can discuss what a path of healing could look like for you. You don’t have to go it alone, and I’m here in your corner.