1.  Cut the Caffeine

Dear Caffeine, it’s not me it’s you. Most people have a physical reaction at the mention of quitting caffeine or even just cutting back (it can be an addiction, after all), but when it comes to anxiety? It is not your friend. Caffeine is a catalyst for anxiety. Anxiety has a tendency to simmer for a while and then suddenly boil over when you least expect it. For some, it can even be in the form of a panic attack. If there is any potential whatsoever for anxiety or a panic attack to rear its ugly head, caffeine will speed up the process. So, we suggest limiting your caffeine intake, especially during the holidays when stress is high. Try a half-caff the next time you grab a coffee, or better yet, switch to hot tea for a while. 

2.  Cut the Alcohol

Dear Alcohol, it's you too. Now, we probably should have put this one last so as to not lose all of our readers. If the caffeine didn’t scare you away, this certainly might. We are not saying you have to quit drinking alcohol completely, but we do want to educate you on how it can affect your anxiety. That way, you can decide if it’s worth the risk when you are considering having a drink or two (or three or four…or 6 if it involves your in-laws). When your blood alcohol level rises you may feel relaxed for a while, but as it goes down, you may be left with feelings of anxiety and depression long after the alcohol has worn off. It's a vicious cycle. You drink because you are stressed and you are stressed because you drink. So, if you’ve had a stressful day, you might consider an alternative drink option as you wind down. In the end, alcohol will only be a temporary fix for your stress and will most likely leave you feeling more anxious than you did before. 

3. Learn How to Deep Breathe 

We know you hear it all of the time, but deep breathing (properly) can be a game changer for managing your anxiety. Notice we threw in the word "properly". That's because if you don't do it right, you will hyperventilate. And, as you might guess, that will not help at all. Practicing deep breathing at least once a day for just 5 minutes will be enough to start training your body and brain to calm down, much like muscle memory. Why does deep breathing work? It's all science. Have you ever felt tingling in your hands, feet, or face because of anxiety? That's because when you are under stress, your body pulls blood from those areas and pumps it to your muscles in a fight or flight response. That response is great if you are fighting off an attacker, but not so great if you are just stressed about hosting this year's family Christmas. You don't want sweet Aunt Pam to leave with a black eye because of your left hook. That response also causes your muscles to tense and your breathing to become shallow which means your body isn't getting enough oxygen. Deep breathing helps reverse all of those responses and tells your brain and body that you are not in actual danger (and that it's just your mother-in-law) so you can go ahead and calm down. We recommend trying the free version of the app CALM if you'd like to have some guided practice on deep breathing. 

4. Exercise​

Did you know that exercise can be as effective as medication for anxiety? It's true. When you are feeling anxious and can't seem to shake it, a 30 minute walk or jog to get your heart rate up will have almost immediate and lasting effects. Not to mention the feel-good endorphins that will be released that can help curb depression as well. We are not saying to spend hours at the gym. Grab your dog and go for a walk outside. Hop on the treadmill at the gym and listen to your favorite playlist or podcast while you walk. Exercise should be a non-negotiable in your action plan against anxiety. We know it's tempting to roll your eyes and dismiss this one, but if you are not getting at least 30 minutes of cardio in a few times a week, you are robbing yourself of a proven treatment for anxiety that 100% works. If you have fallen off of your exercise routine, now is a great time to pick yourself up and get back on it. And, because you are burning extra calories, grab an extra slice of pie while your at it.  

5. Talk to a Doctor

You know what? You might already be doing everything on this list and are still struggling with anxiety. This may seem obvious, but I can almost bet a large number of people reading this have not thought to talk to their doctor about their anxiety struggles. It’s just a part of life, right? While it is a part of life, it doesn’t have to rule your life. And, you don't have to concede to suffering from anxiety just because "that's life". A doctor is best person to discuss what is best for you. There are actually many things that can cause anxiety. It's not just your teen's bedroom or the impossible expectations your boss has for you at work (or your in-laws). It could be a thyroid problem, vitamin deficiency or something else. So, if anxiety is really becoming a problem in your life, go talk to a doctor so you can rule some things out.  Then, you can make a plan of action that is right for you with the guidance of a professional.  

(Did you know we made candles?)


We recommend our aromatherapy scents to assist in calming your anxiety:  

Lavender, Rosemary & Sage and Peppermint & Eucalyptus

Connie Swinney