How To Manage Anxiety And Stress With Exercise & Nutrition

Let me just start this blog post by saying that I am not a Doctor or a Therapist I am just a woman with a history of Anxiety who has tried a crap ton of things to figure out how to get it under control.  This is what worked for me, {results may vary}. LOL

So I really have never talked about this publicly on my blog before.  But when I was in college I struggled with Anxiety quite seriously.  It was the summer between my junior and senior year and I just had met Matt.  I had gotten a summer job at Hollister and I was doing an internship at the Salvation Army working with the summer children's program.  I was having serious panic attacks and I couldn't understand why, but it was seemed to be very much so related to being in situations that I couldn't control and I would get so anxious I would make myself sick.  That led to me not even wanting to go out of the house for fear that I would have an anxiety attack, get sick and not be able to get home immediately.  Also, I had this fear of other people knowing that I had anxiety so I would try to hide it which in turn made my symptoms even worse!  It was absolutely the worst feeling ever!!!  It still is the worst feeling ever!  But I would get this hot sensation that started in my head and went all the way down to my feet.  My chest would start pounding, my palms would get sweaty and my hands would shake.  It would literally take everything in my power to get through those moments sometimes hours when it passed.  Then, I would be left physically and emotionally exhausted from holding it all together!  I just cried because I didn't understand what the heck was wrong with me!  Since its not a physical illness you can see on the outside I was so worried about hiding it that I would make it even worse!  Matt who is the most laid back and go with the flow type of person totally didn't get "me" and my "issues" at all.  He would tell me to suck it up, stop worrying and let it go!  While yes he was and is very supportive he definitely doesn't understand that feeling.  
clean eating, anxiety, dealing with stress, workout, vitamin b, vitamin D, Omega 3s, Melanie Mitro

So when I was in college I sought out some medical advice because I wasn't able to control it on my own.  I started to work through the irrational fears and I was able to get myself under control.  

The one thing that truly made a world of difference for me was Yoga.  I started going to an Ashtanga (hot yoga) class at the time.  I would go 5 times a week to class because the breathing, the in and out counting to 5 with your breathe and the clearing of your mind helped me so much.  In class we were taught to leave all life's worries and anxieties at the door, to clear your mind, to be present in your body and to slow down and just breathe in the moment.  That became my safe place.  The rhythmic breathing calming my nerves and empowered me!  I started to use that breathing anytime I would feel that panic start to creep in.  It was working!!  The second thing that really helped me was to imagine a "STOP" sign when I started to get overwhelmed.  I would stop that negative thought, I would replace it with the non irrational thought and I always ask myself this, "Am I going to die?"  NOPE
Yoga helped me get through my anxiety

"Is this irrational?"  YUP now what are you going to do?  Take a deep breathe in, out, find your quiet place in your mind and breathe through it.  This too shall pass!  

I really was able to get my anxiety under control in the past few years but recently in the last 12 months it seems to be creeping back in.  It is testing me in more ways than one and it frustrates me because I know the fear is irrational, I know I won't die, and I still can't seem to get it to stop completely.  I know that when my nutrition is spot on that I am much better. The more reading I do the more I realize that I am most likely better off because of the way I have been living my life.  Clean Eating is providing my body with proper nutrition, Vitamin B helps to alleviate anxiety symptoms.  I get my Vitamin B from my spinach, my flank steak, whole grains and more. Magnesium and Omega 3s are also great sources of vitamins that can combat these symptoms.  I can't even imagine where I would be without clean eating.

Limiting caffeine:  While I am NOT SO GOOD at this one, I am going to make a conscious effort to keep this one in check!  I do notice that it makes a difference the more coffee I drink!

I also make myself do the things that cause me anxiety! The easy way out would be to stay home and never face the anxiety when it occurs.  I could of easily not taken the trip to visit Matt in Baltimore that first summer my anxiety started because it was completely stressing me out.  But I went, I struggled, I survived and it was a huge VICTORY in my corner.  I proved to myself that I won't die and that I will make it through!  Every time I force myself to face the anxiety and overcome it, I become more in control.

EXERCISE:  Exercise truly is my stress relief.  It started with yoga and my breathing and now its the workouts that get me in the zone.  My workouts are "me" time, they release tension, they clear my mind, they help me to stay grounded and in control of those 30-45 minutes that I am working out.  I usually will push myself harder and sweat more because that is what I can control. Everything else is not up to me.  I do not hold the power to change the unchangeable.
Sweating keeps me calm

Lastly, I have a sounding board.  I have Matt, my mom and some great close friends that I can call at a moments notice. They love me, they don't judge me and they can talk me off a crazy moment in a moments notice!  They help me logically separate the irrational fears from reality and we move forward.  It was hard for me to share even with my family what was going on at first, but thankfully I did because its hard to go at it alone.

Now, anxiety attacks trip me up occasionally and YES they are annoying but I find that it is short lived, I deal with the situation and I know that it is a part of who I am.  As much as I wish it would go away I just know I have to deal with it.  I am thankful for this healthy lifestyle, for clean eating and this community of support because it promotes natural, healthy living and the positivity I am surrounded with daily gives me nothing but hope and inspiration!!!

So if you can relate to this post here is my advice to you.
Never stop working out, even on the days when your anxiety is the worst, force yourself to do it!  You will feel better afterwards.  Eat clean, make sure your body is getting proper nutrition, vitamins and nutrients because that will naturally affect your body and get a great friend that can take your mind off of the stress when it builds!!!  

 Have a wonderful weekend and CRUSH THAT WORKOUT TODAY!!!

Another great article on overcoming anxiety:

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