How I’m Overcoming Anxiety

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Did you know that approximately 3.3 million people suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder?  Did you know that most of those people keep it to themselves?  I was one of those people.  I was ashamed. I felt broken.  I made excuses for why I couldn’t do things. I didn’t leave my house. I didn’t want people to think less of me.  I pretended everything was ok.  And then, one day, I decided I had enough.  I wrote about my anxiety and was shocked to hear how many of my friends and family suffer with similar debilitating anxiety disorders.    It was a step that set me free and since then, I’ve been working hard to overcome anxiety.  For those of you that are suffering in silence, know that you can overcome it too.  Here are some tricks that have helped me in overcoming anxiety.

Behavioral Therapy

After hitting rock bottom, I decided it was time to speak to a professional.  Of everything we spoke about during our visits, the thing that was most reassuring to me, was hearing that I wasn’t crazy.  Knowing that many people go through similar experiences was sad, but comforting.  My therapist worked with me to try to find the root of the anxiety.  She gave me various “homework assignments” to learn to cope and work toward being able to calm myself down if I was about to have a panic attack.  It became a weekly visit I looked forward to.  I was able to talk things out, get recommendations and find ways to accept what was happening to me.

Breathing Exercises

Everyone I spoke with and all of the research I did, always led back to breathing exercises and meditation. At first, I was extremely skeptical.  While I was trying to “breathe through it”, I was telling myself it wasn’t working, ultimately sabotaging myself.  And because I was not really focused on what I was supposed to be doing, it didn’t work.  When I finally gave in, and really let go to the fact that these breathing exercises were calming me down, they started to work. I found that at the height of my panic attacks, I could breathe my fears away. Now, as soon as I feel the panic coming on, I inhale slowly, counting to 5, hold it for 10 seconds and then releasing, slowly.  After a few times, I feel my anxiety level decrease drastically.

Distraction

Distraction is key!  If I’m not thinking about it, anxiety can’t happen.  The majority of my panic attacks were brought on by my constant “what ifs” in my head.  Even before I left my home, I was thinking about all of the bad things that could happen to me.  I was thinking about how far I would be from my safe place, how long it would take to get back… I was ultimately bringing on my own panic attack by worrying about things that were out of my control.  I found that if I was busy in some way, whether it be singing, on my phone or talking to my husband or kids, I wasn’t able to give myself the opportunity to worry and I was ok.  Photography has been a huge distraction for me.  When we are out of the house, traveling or on a local adventure, I am so focused on capturing the moment with my camera, that I forget to worry about “what ifs”. Finding a hobby I love has been a blessing.

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Weighted Blanket

A huge issue for me was my lack of sleep.  For me, lack of rest = anxiety and anxiety = lack of rest.  It’s a vicious cycle.  A good friend of mine, who also suffers from anxiety, purchased a weighted blanket a little over a year ago. At that point, I had never heard of them, but after hearing how positive her experience was with it, I wanted to give it a try.  Weighted blankets provide the body with proprioceptive input which can cause the brain to release neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which both have calming effects. Weighted blankets are ideal for individuals with conditions such as sensory integration disorder, Autism, anxiety, ADHD, Rett Syndrome, PTSD and Restless Leg Syndrome. I searched for almost a year until I found KP Designs Shop.  As a pediatric occupational therapist, KP Designs Shop owner Kelly was so knowledgable and easy to work with.  She created a blanket especially for me, based on my size.  I have slept with it since I received it and can honestly say that I have never slept more soundly.  I don’t wake up every hour. I’m not restless.  I fall asleep and stay asleep, which for me, makes all the difference with my anxiety level.  I wake up much less anxious than I used to. It’s been a game changer for me. KP Designs Shop has graciously offered my readers 10% off with code SUPERMOMLIFE.

Exposure

Most recently, I’ve learned that exposing myself to my fears helps me to conquer them.  I step out of my comfort zone as often as I can and when I reach my panic state, I breathe through it and wait for it to pass.  As soon as it does, my brain can relax and I can tell myself that I’m ok.  We recently took a week long road trip to Atlanta, GA, where I found myself anxious more than a few times.  While my fight or flight kicked in, I didn’t give in.  I fought through it and went on each adventure and had the time of my life with my family.  It’s helped since we’ve been back home as well because I tell myself if I can make it to Atlanta, I can drive 30 minutes down the road.  It sounds crazy, but it works.  Just like I was able to talk myself into a panic attack, I can now talk myself into the idea that I will be ok, panic attack or not.  The more I push myself to do things outside of my comfort zone, the easier it gets.

My Family

Honestly, opening up and getting the support of my husband and kids has made all the difference.  They are there to remind me why I want to fight anxiety. They are there to lend a shoulder when I just need to cry.  My husband has never turned his back on me.  He is constantly cheering me on while knowing that sometimes, I may have setbacks.  He steps up and really relieves so much of my anxiety just by being so understanding.  Having the support of others makes a huge difference.

If you are suffering in silence, know that there’s hope.  You don’t have to feel ashamed. You aren’t broken.  You don’t need to make excuses. You can leave your house.  It’s possible.  I’m proof of that. Don’t be afraid to talk about it.  And while anxiety will always be there, in the back of my mind, I’m not afraid to fight it.  I want to give my kids the best childhood they can possibly have.  I won’t be the reason they miss out on adventures.  I will be right there beside them, breathing and fighting through it.

Do you or someone you know suffer from an anxiety disorder? Comment below and let me know!

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I was gifted a weighted blanket by KP Designs Shop in exchange for promotion, but all opinions are my own.

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Hello There!

I'm so honored that you've found us! I'm Heather, a Mom of 3 who blogs about parenting, food, occasional travel and how I overcame my daily struggle with anxiety. I miss sleeping and rely on coffee and laughter to get me through the day. I hope you enjoy and visit often!

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  1. I suffer from anxiety as well, and only recently learned in the last few years that my lifelong issues with stress, depression and body image are almost certainly borderline personality disorder. Some days are better than others, but learning what works can take time. Yoga, a regular and predictable schedule, some alone time, and specific medication (that took so much trial and error to figure out!) works well for me. I am also extremely lucky to have access to the healthcare that I need, because i know that so many do not.

  2. Glad you are finding something to help you with your anxiety. I know that for me getting away and being with family and friends is what ultimately helps.

  3. Congratulations on your progress. It’s hard to deal with anxiety. Both I and my husband have from time to time anxiety attacks. It sucks. I’m glad I haven’t had one in a while. I will want to get myself a blanket like the one you wrote about.

  4. So glad you are finding ways to overcome your anxiety, it has taken me years to overcome mine and I still get little wobbles from time to time x

  5. Positive exposure I think really does help. It keeps ones mind away from his anxiety. Keep it up.

  6. Anxiety is harmful. It can be an obstacle to the progression of your life. Overcome anxiety is halfway through the problem in your life. Thank you for the motivational tips.

  7. You are so very brave to confront your anxiety and write so eloquently about it. I am a big fan of meditation and use it whenever I am overly stressed, need a mental break or feel anxious. I really do think it makes a difference! I have been thinking about getting a weighted blanket. Are they hot? That’s one of the things that has been holding me back from purchasing one. Thanks!

  8. Great ways to help your anxiety and being in a field that helps those with anxiety and other things they are great things to share with others and sharing with us is a brave thing to do. I need to share these easy tips with some of our clients.

  9. This is so inspirational. I commend your courage for sharing your personal experiences which will, in turn, change many lives. I love the tips you shared, very helpful and insightful. Fabulous post!

  10. These are really wonderful tips! I suffer from anxiety sometimes and some of these are definitely essential for me!

  11. What an awesome list of tips! I love the last one, getting so much support from my husband definitely plays a big role for me to overcome anxiety. Thank you for sharing this!

  12. This was really helpful. As a person with anxiety (especially social anxiety), I’m really thinking of going to therapy to get professional help. I’ve never exposed my anxiety before but I may as well try to so I can overcome it.

  13. It sounds like you have found some great coping mechanisms!! I am glad you have found some ways that work for you in overcoming your anxiety!!

  14. So glad you are finding things that help with your anxiety! I love that weighted blanket is helping, we use those in yoga.

  15. Such an important message in this post! I’m glad you found effective ways to manage your anxiety in a very healthy way (that does not involve drugs). I 100% believe in CBT and recommend it to my patients all the time. I never knew about the weighted blanket but it sounds very intriguing!!

  16. Thank you for sharing your story with us! I know many people that suffer from anxiety and it is a hard thing to control and overcome. I love your tips, they are super helpful!

  17. I am glad you have found a way to overcome it. I am lucky to not have too much anxiety but, I know loved ones that do and I know how hard it can be by seeing them. I like the idea of the blanket!

  18. As someone that lives with severe anxiety and depression, I can really appreciate all of the tips that you have given. I think it is so important, for all of us, to normalize conversations about anxiety and our mental health. We need to be able to have real conversations about the things that affect us daily, so I am glad that more people are beginning to write about their own trials.

  19. Anxiety disorder is somehow serious nowadays. We should be more aware and create awareness regarding this so that we will be able to know on how to deal about this as well. Reading this makes me learn more about it.

  20. thank you for sharing your personal experience and tips. best of luck with everything 🙂 I do have anxiety too

  21. I also feel so much anxiety and it’s really hard to get ride of it ! Fortunately , like you said, family support is the best ! Thank you for sharing !

  22. Thank you for sharing your story and the ways in which you deal with the problem. As someone who used to be anxious a lot of the time, I understand how difficult it can be sometimes.

  23. Thank you for sharing these tips. Among them, I will remember the breathing exercise and the Weighted Blanket which will complement my round bed very well (http://bit.ly/2Ir3iHK) .
    Frankly, I have never heard of weighted blanket. However, after hearing from you and seeing how baby sleeps, this heavy blanket may work i.e. just like baby, we need something to hold us tight and this heavy blanket may just do the trick.

  24. I know my ex didn’t suffer from an anxiety disorder per say. Although she did have a lot of anxiety about a lot of things. I think the biggest key with any form of mental struggle, knowing you aren’t alone is so very important.

  25. Yes. Most of the time, I just keep all my worries to myself. I do not really feel comfortable opening up to my family or friends and sometimes, this causes my migraine attacks. The similar thing I do is also to distract myself with hobbies and travel.

  26. Yoga and meditation is also great for anxiety and depression. You are very brave to write about this very personal journey.

  27. I don’t battle with anxiety but when I have to do something out of my norms, that’s when I really get so anxious. I agree with lack of sleep, falling asleep is a hard battle for me.

  28. Thank you for sharing your story. It was truly heartwarming and inspirational. I’m sure your story will help a lot of people who are dealing with anxiety as well. I found the idea of a weighted blanket interesting and unique. I’ll have to see where I can find one

  29. Your “face your fears” philosophy is a great one to have. My wife has some anxiety issues also. That is the best way for her to beat them. The other good one you touched on was distraction. That works for her too.

  30. I didn’t realize for years that I was affected. It took someone asking me about it before I really it. The breathing exercises help me tremendously.

  31. The breathing techniques works fine for me. I also picture images of my loved ones smiling at me- it helps in 99% of cases.

  32. I think it is great that there is a lot of coping options to help with anxiety. I have heard that breathing exercises help out a lot and I think it is a great tool to use!

  33. I don’t know anyone with an anxiety disorder but I worked with several students on overcoming their anxiety about school issues.

  34. That’s interesting that a weighted blanket has helped you. I have a friend who has anxiety, and it can be debilitating for her. I feel helpless sometimes and I will pass these tips on to her.

  35. this is so great, these are awesome tips for someone that can relate to you. ive read up on the weighted blanket. i would definitely love to try something like that.

  36. These are all great tips! I think we could all use better ways to overcome anxiety, but it can rob us of enjoying all the great things in this life.

  37. I suffer from severe anxiety, also. It has been a hard battle. It has done unimaginable things to me. I finally sought help, and it has eased a great deal. However, I still feel it within me often. I am working on trying to figure out why it is so constant in my life, even when I feel like it’s the furthest thing from my mind. I, like you, was so surprised to see how many other’s struggle, too. I totally want to get a weighted blanket. I feel like it would help me tremendously. Thanks for sharing this.

  38. This is a great topic and something more common then not. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  39. I can totally agree with the distraction point. That is truly when my anxiety gets the worst, when I’m alone and have nothing in-depth to do.

  40. So important to breathe while anxious. Very common to stop breathing properly, I start counting to ten with deep breaths and that usually helps.

  41. I’m glad you’ve found something that works for you. I have anxiety, but only in certain situations. I know that breathing techniques, and essential oils help me at times.

  42. Thanks for sharing your story and these very helpful tips. I would have never thought of using a weighted blanket.

  43. I have heard of a weighted blanket before, I had to use something similar for my dog. Speaking of dogs, have you thought about getting a therapy dog??? I think that would be something totally work looking into (assuming you’re not allergic). <3

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  44. Anxiety can be so debilitating. I have struggled with it from time to time. Often times, there is no specific trigger for my anxiety. I also suffer from depression and speak to a counselor every few weeks. I also love to diffuse essential oils too.

  45. I’m very glad you shared this. I have anxiety at times as well. I’ll have to follow your tips and see if it helps. I’ve always wanted one of those blankets, so I think I may get one.

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  46. I love that you’re sharing the things that you do to overcome your anxiety because there are people who feel a little lost or don’t know what to do at all especially when the anxiety kicks in. Thanks for all your suggestions and tips!

  47. I am wellversed in attempts to overcome anxiety which i also suffer from. I have found that exposure therapy can be very helpful and then positive reinforcement can occur.

  48. I’m very Type A so I tend to get anxious sometimes as well. Glad to hear that you’ve found some things that work for you – a weighted blanket sounds comfortable, as well.

  49. Thank you for sharing. I am going to try your tips. I too suffer from horrible anxiety and sometimes it can really be debilitating.

  50. I have had bad anxiety since I was a pre-teen. Taking a long walk is one of the things that seems to help me with my anxiety from time to time. Listening to music also helps me. 🙂

  51. I suffer from anxiety too. I got better around 10 years ago when I met my hubby. For some reason, he really has a calming effect on me. All he needs to do is hug me and the anxiety eases away. These days, I don’t get anxious often anymore. I’ve learned that distraction also helps. Whenever I get an attack and my hubby is not around, I focus my mind on what my two little ones are doing and I join them.

  52. I feel like it’s easy for the public to shrug anxiety off. Thanks for sharing your story and ways you cope. It is a real thing that deserves attention and treatment.

  53. Thank you for sharing! I suffer from horrible anxiety especially social anxiety, I will be using some of these coping methods.

  54. Continue to be strong in overcoming your anxiety, this is also great tip for those who are undergoing same situation. Thanks for sharing.

  55. So many great ways to help lower anxiety! I love weighted blankets and yes to distraction! It’s all the thinking and over thinking that brings my anxiety on!

  56. Thanks for sharing. Anxiety sucks! the first time I had an attack I truly thought I was going to die. I couldn’t even breathe. I find that distraction helps, breathing through the anxiety attack helps. For prevention, I try to do Yoga once or twice a week which I find helps the relaxation process. Good luck to you!

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      I definitely want to try yoga at some point. Meditation is great, so I imagine yoga will be too!

  57. I know where you are coming from, lady. I have spent almost a majority of my life trying to find the right combination of tools to prevent panic attacks and ease the stress that comes from battling anxiety. So much of the time I have to shut myself in and distract myself in my own way. I often end up then making myself feel guilty for not like leaving to “do something about it” but the best way for me to cope, I’ve found, is to write about it and then lose myself in a book.

  58. You are so right on with all of your tips. I have pretty bad anxiety and the weighted blanket is pretty amazing for me!

  59. keep it up, you are in the right path! definitely taking breathing exercises and spending time with family is healthy physically, emotionally and mentally!

  60. It sounds like you have some great things going on to help with your anxiety. I have to admit i’ve never been able to fully overcome mine but I might have to try some of these ideas out.

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      For me, it’s been years of just finding what works. I’ve finally got to the point where I stop worrying about them because that’s what brings them on. You will get there too!

  61. Oh, this brings back memories of when I first started dealing with panic attacks. It sucks! But, you seem to have a fantastic support system and great tools to help you through. I always have a piece of hard candy with me. Something about the quick sugar at the start of a panic attack works to help balance your synapses or something… I just know that it can help. Sometimes.

  62. AMAZING!!! That’s all I can say. You are incredibly strong and brave. I have anxiety too and struggle with it. Being open with family is key!

  63. Keep up what you’re doing! I can see how a weighted blanket would help anxiety. I would think it feels very safe and secure.