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3 surprising ways to manage anxiety.

If you struggle with anxiety or panic attacks, you’ve probably already developed self-regulation tools to help you cope whenever you feel that anxiety is starting to rise. Having to cope with anxiety can be draining and exhausting, because you’re often not just having to deal with the anxiety itself, but also struggling with the anxiety of having another anxiety attack.


It can feel like being caught in a relentless storm of worry and fear, where even the smallest tasks seem insurmountable. Constantly feeling this way can be overwhelming and make it difficult to concentrate or find peace in daily activities.


So, having little tricks and self-regulation exercises up your sleeve can help you feel more in control and give you a sense of having options and agency to control what is going to happen next.


Try out these 3 surprising ways to manage the oncoming feeling of overwhelm and anxious, and don’t shrug your head just because at first sight they might seem silly to you, trust me, they do work. I have used these with clients, and they are easy to incorporate into your life and can be just what you need next time you feel the unease of something going down.


bottle of lavender oil


1. Lavender oil.

Now this might not be new to you. Lavender is known for its many relaxing qualities. It’s effective in reducing anxiety due to its complex chemical composition, which has therapeutic properties, which include sedative properties due to compounds such as linalool and linalyl acetate that have been shown to have sedative and calming effects on the central nervous system and decrease arousal.


Your limbic system in the brain, which is involved in emotion and memory processing, is particularly influenced by scents, and the aroma of lavender oil can directly affect this part of the brain, helping to induce relaxation and emotional balance.


How to use lavender oil.

There are 2 ways you can use the oil – inhale it and/or rub some on your skin.


You can bring a small bottle of essential lavender oil with you in your purse, or you can get a small roll on which is small enough that it is easy to have with you at any time. Fill the roll-on with some of your favorite oil, like almond oil, and add 10 drops of essential lavender oil, or simply use the lavender oil unsaturated directly as it is in the roll-on.


When you feel the onset of an attack, take out the bottle or roll on and smell the lavender oil, taking in a few strong inhales through your nose. Sit for a bit and allow it to take effect, take as many inhalations as you need to bring your stress level down.


You can also rub some oil on your wrists, which makes the smell of lavender available to you even after you have returned the bottle/roll to your purse.


stainless steel drinking straw in a glass


2. Bring your own straw!

Now if you are environmentally aware you might have this available in your purse already. You might bring your own reusable straw to a coffee shop or to use when buying a milkshake. But the straw can also be used to handle anxiety! Let me tell you how.


I’ve used straws to help kids deal with anxiety and become more aware of breathing patterns, and that’s exactly what I want you to use it for as well. One thing that can bring down stress levels is taking deep long breaths, focusing on maintaining a deep inhale and a long-relaxed exhale. Doing this sends a direct signal to your nervous system that it’s time to relax. The only issue is, when you are experiencing anxiety full on, you want to punch the next person who tells you to “just take some deep breaths”.


It can be really hard to breathe slowly with you are in the claws of anxiety, but using the straw will force you to do just that.


How to use the straw.

I suggest you get a stainless-steel straw to bring with you, these come in short and longer versions, and you can experiment with the 2 sizes to see what works best for you. Also get the ones you can use for milkshakes, which are bigger and not the really thin ones.

In trying to bring your breath rate down and breathe more slowly you do this.


Take the straw out and place it in your mouth. Now as you breathe, you inhale through the nose and exhale through the straw. This might feel quite constricting at first, but if you keep at it, it will automatically force you to make your exhales longer and slower. Helping your nervous system to switch from fight or flight to rest and digest.


This one might take some getting used to, so doing this a couple of times when you are already relaxed can let you get the feel of it beforehand.


candy gummi bears on a plate


3. Let’s have candy!

Yes, I mean it, we are going to get you to have candy in your bag as well!

So, I just mentioned that we wanted your nervous system to switch from fight or flight to rest and digest, and that is what we are going to be using the candy for.


When your nervous system is at rest or digest, it is as the words say getting ready to digest food. Now your nervous system cannot exist in both fight or flight and rest and digest at the same time, and you can use this to your advantage.


Our digestion process is a complex series of steps that break down food into nutrients the body can absorb and use for energy, growth, and cell repair. The process begins with eating. As food enters your mouth, the first phase of digestion occurs, when your teeth break down the food into smaller pieces through chewing, and the tongue helps mix the food with saliva.


Saliva is then one of the first signals to the body that a digestion process has started. Now how can we get your mouth to create saliva? As you probably have experienced in the past, getting stressed, being nervous, and feeling anxious often leave you with a very dry mouth.


How to use the candy.

This is where this specific candy is handy! Sour gummies, or any other sour candy that you fancy. The trick is to find the absolutely worst, almost impossible-to-eat, extremely sour candy you can find. It should almost make you want to spit it out as you try to eat it, so this is very much an individual taste thing.


Sour candy comes in many variants such as sour gummies, sour hard candies, sour chews (bar or stick form), sour belts and strips, sour powder candy, sour bubblegum (although the sourness doesn’t really last here, so I would suggest one of the other options), sour pops, sour jellybeans, etc. So, you’ll have to do some testing here to find your “favorite” = almost impossible to eat!


When you feel anxiety creeping up on you, start eating some candy, and feel your mouth watering up. When you eat sour candy, your mouth produces extra saliva due to the candy's high acidity. Sour candies often contain acidic ingredients like citric acid, malic acid, or tartaric acid to give them their tangy taste. These acids stimulate the salivary glands in your mouth to produce more saliva.


The body's natural reflex is to produce more saliva when consuming sour or acidic substances as both a protective and functional response, and you can use this to your advantage to trick the body into going into rest and digest mode. As I mentioned before the body cannot exist in both fight or flight mode and rest and digest at the same time, so by using the candy you can switch your nervous system mode away from anxiety and over to rest.



So, now that I’ve listed 3 different ways to manage anxiety, it is up to you. Oh, and these actually work really well when you are stressed as well. Try them out for yourself, use one of them or all of them together, whatever you find works for you.


You might also find that just having these options available to you at all times (just bring your bag) can be a source of comfort and help you manage your anxiety, as you know you have tools that are there for you if and when you need them.


Let me know, if you experiment with this, I would love to know what you find useful and how it works for you?

Disclaimer

The information found in this blog post is for general informational and educational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for a health professional's advice. If you are struggling with health issues please seek professional help. The use of any information provided in this blog post is solely at your own risk.


Author Mette Rosenqvist


she/her

With 10 years of supporting women release and manage emotional and physical pain to achieve optimal health, Mette is the seasoned coach and blogger behind MeRoyoga, a Holistic Health website. Dedicated to empowering women of all ages and backgrounds, her work is based on cultivating mind-body awareness and self-regulation through compassionate inquiry. As a Multi passionate coach, Mette incorporates several healing modalities to create bespoken sessions prioritizing inclusion, meaning, and accessibility and thrives on helping women discover all the choices available to them so they can build trust and safety in themselves, and move through life present, centered, and empowered.




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