As someone who has lived with anxiety depression all of my life, I know all too well how difficult these disorders can be. Maybe you’re feeling stuck and hopeless and not sure which way turn. Believe me when I say this, I have been there. Maybe you’ve had some unsettling symptoms and now you’re terrified, afraid that something is really wrong, I understand it. Today, I have compiled a list of 12 ideas to help you improve your mental health without seeing a doctor.
A disclaimer here, if none of these work, please consider seeing a professional. I’m not an expert and I don’t have any professional qualifications, I just have years upon years of experience to draw upon and share with you.
1. Bach’s Rescue Remedy
I cannot advocate these enough. Legal and safe, Rescue Remedy gives me a sense of calm and clarity, rather than the groggy, half-awake state like something like benzodiazepines. If all you want and need is a touch of calm and reassurance, I strongly recommend Rescue Remedy. Also, the pastilles just look like little jelly candies, so nobody will know you’re calming your nerves.
2. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy
I realise this here is going to be controversial, but I found Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT Therapy) to be a great help for me once I researched and practiced it away from a none-too-useful therapist. Analysing my thoughts rather than just talking about them helped me to understand my triggers and to treat myself with the same compassion and support that I would give a friend. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy can also help you challenge negative thoughts and begin to see things in a more positive light.
3. Being Close To Water
Be it the fountain in my garden, the ocean, the stream.. if I can hear water, bizarrely my anxiety eases. Close your eyes and just listen to the flowing water. Try to imagine your stresses washing away in the flow. With a little practice, its surprising how well this works. Sometimes I also like to play with water for a while. Pour it, sprinkle it, find whatever works for you to make some nice, soothing relaxing sounds, which brings us onto..
ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, can be a great tool with anxiety. An estimated one in 10 people experience ASMR, or “the tingles”, a pleasurable tingling sensation which is triggered by certain sounds including crinkling, tapping and hair brushing. Whilst not everyone experiences it, for those of us who do, it can be a great temporary relief from our negative, anxious thoughts. Even if you don’t experience ASMR, try a guided meditation on Youtube instead.
5. The “HALT” Technique
Used for mental health and addiction, HALT is an abbreviation of the 4 biggest causes of relapse – Hunger, Anger, Loneliness & Tiredness. When you can identify the trigger, you can do something about the problem. Hungry? Have a snack. Tired? Take a nap. Do not underestimate how well HALT works.
I’m not even talking about a huge, pain-staking blow-out at the gym. A ten-minute walk, 20 minutes on a bike, whatever, it’s up to you. Exercise burns off that jittery feeling which is crucially what anxiety is. Your body is in “fight or flight” mode and you’re sat there doing nothing. Get up, move and burn it off. You don’t even need to do much. Jog on the spot or do 20 star jumps. Trust me, you’ll feel better for it and your body (and mind) will thank you, too.
I’m adding this one to my list separately because it’s exercise, and then it us not. For me, swimming is as much a meditation as it exercise. When I swim, I like to imagine that I’m sweeping all of my worries behind me as I swim forward. Try this powerful visualisation and see.
Never, ever underestimate the power of touch. Cuddle therapy exists, massage therapy exists and for good reason. Touch releases oxytocin and serotonin that allow us to feel safe and allow our minds to relax. It is said that a 3-minute hug can reduce or even cure depression, so cuddle, cuddle, and cuddle some more!
Not like your mother used to do! Grounding is one of my favourite techniques which works similarly to mindfulness to bring your focus back to the present moment. Instead of focusing on your thoughts, focus on 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can hear, 3 things that you can feel, 2 things that you can smell and one thing that you can taste. Still anxious? Repeat the exercises with different answers for each of your five senses.
Some therapists hate this because it’s more about running away than it is about tackling the problem, but sometimes it’s just not possible to start doing your therapy homework. Draw, write, listen to music, play with a pet, do whatever it takes to feel a bit calmer again.
11. Peppermint Tea
A concoction suggested by my mother uses 2 drops of alcohol-based peppermint extract with a little sugar (or sweeteners) and warm water. Peppermint oil has a wonderful way of clearing the mind, calming the nerves and bringing about a sense of ease. Peppermint can also help with tummy trouble, which helps if your anxiety is food-related.
12. Essential Oils
Yep.. I know.. more hippy stuff, but they work! Like all others, lavender is my favourite to calm a racing mind, but peppermint helps to clear the head and lemon or orange do great to boost the mood.
I hope that some of these ideas helped you. Don’t forget, if nothing helps and you’re really struggling, please, please pay your doctor a visit. They are there to help you!
Which ones are your favourite? Let me know in the comments!
Until next time,
Stay safe & have fun,