I’ve been pretty open about my struggles with mental health. I’ve battled Body Dysmorphic Disorder (or BDD) and ADHD both of which have caused some form of anxiety. Let’s be honest life causes anxiety.
I recently went through a pretty rough incident that I needed to physically calm myself down from. My mind was taking off on me, my chest was tight, my head was hot, it was so uncomfortable. I do have an “as needed” prescription for Lorazepam but I really try not to take it and it’s not always accessible. This few tips I’ve learned from counselors and psychologists I’ve worked with in the past few years.
- Grounding – I’ve heard this from many people. While I’ve had anxiety before, I’ve never used it during a full blown attack but last week I did and HOLY COW – it really works.
2. DEEP BREATHING – this is an obvious one, but seriously, do you do it? Because when done correctly it can make a huge difference. Deep breath in and hold it – let it out over five seconds.
3. An ICE PACK to the face! This is a new one to me, learned when I was chatting with my psychologist about my ADHD diagnosis. Some people say it works better in a cold bowl of water but for me, even if I’m having trouble sleeping an ice pack REALLY helps me relax. It’s called the Mammalian Diving Reflex and it significantly decreases your heart rate and essentially reduces that “fight or flight” response/feeling that you feel when anxiety strikes.
4. Now this one isn’t for everyone, but I have a pretty significant stress response in my legs when I’ve had a hard day or my “flight or fight” has been for too long. My legs ACHE and HURT. I remember this as long as I can remember, I always thought it was growing pains until I was 26 and couldn’t figure out why I still had growing pains. I started tracking it and when I had a long hard shift, when I’ve had a tough emotional/stressful day my legs would ACHE so so badly. Now I can recognize this as a stress response. Tylenol and Ibuprofen help, and now I use this hot pack my mom made me for Christmas – ALL THE WAY BACK IN FOURTH GRADE! More than anything, sleep helps my leg aches.
5. MOVE YOUR BODY! A few months ago my BDD was in FULL FORCE and I just had to get out of the house. I took the boys to mom’s and I went on a two mile ish run just to clear my head. The physical movement was so good for me and this has been recommended over and over by mental health professionals.
6. I also use a weighted blanket. These are spendy, but I don’t think I’ll ever not have one on my bed. Mom ordered one to try and we are all hooked, I got one for each of the boys too that they love. There have been studies that show weighted blankets can help ease anxiety and can help you sleep deeper. Here is a link to the one I got: https://amzn.to/3oKgdei
7. As a last resort, I do take a Lorazepam tablet (like a quick release antianxiety medication) but I’m sure to try 1-4 before I get there! I use them so sparingly that they are mostly expired now but good to have in case of emergency.
Those are some of the ways I can talk myself “off the ledge.” Let me know what you use to calm yourself and regroup!
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I so appreciate how open you are to discuss your mental health struggle. I hope you can help others manage their own struggles.