Tuesday, July 3, 2007

My Top 10 Anxiety Tools and Resources

I thought I would discuss what I use as my favorite tools and resources for learning about and dealing with my anxiety/ phobias. All of these are listed on the right hand side of the blog that I leave up normally so you can refer back to any of them anytime. Its a long post I know but its I believe its very valueable for those trying to figure things out.
  1. Reading Material- The biggest help that I have gotten (seriously it has changed my whole perspective on everything) has been from the book The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook Fourth Edition by Edmund J. Bourne. I am not one that buys books very often and I came across the Third Edition of this Series in my public library. It was so amazing I kept it until I wasn’t allowed to renew it any longer. I returned it sadly and then decided I had to have my own copy as a resource that I could use whenever needed. The guidance in this book is amazing. It touches on everything that I can think of on how to manage and get rid of your anxiety and phobias. I haven’t gotten to the getting rid of part because I am still getting used to managing my anxiety first. I highly recommend trying to find this book if you are looking for something to help you, especially if you can’t afford to see a specialist or a therapist. Before this book I was hopeless and it gave me the motivation to take control of my life again. Main things that helped me in this book was learning about Self Talk, Positive Affirmations and Mistaken Beliefs.
  2. Medication- I take a daily dose of 50mg of Zoloft. At first I was really skeptical about taking the medication because I didn’t want to be reliant on it. I fell into the stigma that most people have about mental health medicine- that you should be able to control your own thoughts. I have since learned that some brains are simply hard wired different and need the medication to work properly. If you are diabetic, you take insulin and no one questions it, its what you need. So I take that daily and have been doing much better since I have been consistent with it. I also take Clonozapam when I need it as an additional way to calm my nerves and that helps tremendously.
  3. Spiritual Belief System- I have a firm faith in my beliefs that we are put on this earth to be tried and tested. I know that we are only given adversities that Heavenly Father knows we can handle even though it might seem so overwhelming to us. I know that he helps me along the way as I continue to ask for it and pray for it. I encourage everyone to figure out their own spiritual belief system as it gives a firm foundation for when things get rocky. One of my favorite quotes says, "Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, 'Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come ad dwell with thee and fully share Thy joy!'" -Neal A. Maxwell.
  4. Yoga and regular exercise- I am not as consistent as this as I would like to be, but anytime I finish a workout or a yoga session I feel better immediately. I have found yoga to be more of a help especially. An interesting article I found says, “Yoga's postures, controlled breathing and meditation may work together to help ease brains plagued by anxiety or depression, a new study shows.” I don’t need the study to tell me that, I have experienced it first hand. I used to Tivo a daily yoga show as corny as it was to do at home but when the show no longer played I had to find another method. I like to work out at home, its too hard for me to keep up with going to the gym and I never end up going. So I am borrowing an XBOX that hardly gets used and I bought a $9 dollar game at a used game store. This game is awesome. It’s a Personal Trainer that does yoga and exercising with lots of other cool features.
  5. Therapist- It was a blow to my ego but when things got really bad I had to face the music that I was in over my head. I went and saw a therapist who was able to help me point out my negative thoughts when I didn’t realize I was thinking that way.
  6. Journaling- Journaling is a great way to figure out your thoughts and feelings and mentally unwind. That’s why I started this blog. Its my journal and has been extremely therapeutic for me.
  7. Vitamin B Supplement- This is a daily pill that helps manage the nervous system that is an additional more herbal remedy as opposed to Clonozapam.
  8. Family and Friends- Having a support person is important. Someone that knows whats going on so that if you have to leave suddenly or have symptoms coming on, they are there to help you and be there for you. Sometimes having that support person with you in a trigger situation can be enough to help you stay calm. Plus as I have mentioned before, than your secret is out and you don’t have to try so hard to meet everyone’s expectations and you can focus on other things. I only tell my closest family and friends about it, plus all of you of course, but I try not to tell people that I feel aren’t on a need to know basis.
  9. Expressing Yourself Creatively- I find it important to express myself in relaxing ways that help me define who I am. I do this with gardening, playing the piano, scrapbooking, blogging, and photography. All of these hobbies give me a sense of accomplishment and let me know that I am worthwhile as a person. They give me strength to want to better myself in all areas of my life.
  10. Down Time- Its vitally important to give your mind some rest. This includes getting a full night’s sleep, time management, and making room in your schedule for relax time. Time where you do nothing but meditate or veg out, anything that’s relaxing. Taking a bath, watch tv, just exist.
Some of these may work better than others for you and your situation. Whats important is finding out what it is that works best for you. I'd love to hear if anyone else has other tools or resources or ideas that help them.

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Anonymous said...

It is great that you have these things to help you out and work through your anxiety. I also take Zoloft and went through the same thing you did. I guess I am starting to believe I'm hard-wired to be like this... I still don't like it though. ;) And I don't like how it makes me fuzzy. It's also made me not really care about much. Oh I get everything done and I still work with my dogs and get about my day, but I can happily stare at my computer all day long, too, and not care that the dishes need washing.

ShamWOW! said...

You're doing a great job with the blog. How do you get those captions in your photos?

Aimée said...

Hi Debaser, thanks for stoppin by! By captions do you mean the links I leave for the person that took the photo? I just use the font buttons to make the font the smallest size possible, make it italicized and add the link to the text all in the post section of blogger. The rest of the post I make the text normal size so it looks like a caption but its just formatted different. Let me know if you were referring to something else. Has the rest of your day been as good as this morning for you?

ShamWOW! said...

Yeah, it's been great. Thanks. I may start captioning my photos.

Mike said...

In no particular order:

-Family - Talking to my wife, or playing with my son always helps me re-focus.

-Video games - I've played video games to calm my nerves in the middle of an attack before, and it works great. I make sure I've always got something on my phone to play in case I'm on the road when an attack hits.

-Exercise - I work out everyday on my lunch break, and the adrenalin combined with the feeling of accomplishment is a great way to keep my nerves from getting the best of me.

-Medication - I hate taking medication, but it works for me.

-The Internet - I can totally relax myself on the internet. Whether it's chatting with friends, reading the news or catching up with my favorite teams, there is always something to keep me busy.....come to think of it, I'm in front of the computer all day at work, which may explain why that is the one place that I'm ALWAYS calm!

Aimée said...

Oohh I love video games! I definitely want to try that out! Thanks Mike :)

Unknown said...

Making art really helps me- I think it is really anything that causes you to focus your mind hard on something other than your problems for awhile. Service to others is also very valuable for taking me out of myself. Demanding church callings may seem counter intuitive, but they help me stay focused on others needs. I am loving your blog Aimee. I hope it is ok that I tell people about it like crazy:)

Aimée said...

You can tell as many people as you want Krista! I love you :) Its interesting, I started out blogging for myself and I think it has reached a turning point where I am now mainly blogging for others. I still get the benefits but my motivation has changed and I really like opening things up to others and learning about them and trying to help them. If anyone can benefit from anything I have learned than it is all worth it.

Alijor said...

Hey, congratulations on getting control over anxiety! That's really amazing!
I've found running and music to be helpful- but I had two specific ways of dealing with anxiety when I was little;
I used to get all my stuffed animals all around me and watch cartoons, and later read Harry Potter over and over and over again....

Aimée said...

Thanks for the comment Alijor and welcome to the Reality of Anxiety. I looked at your blog and it looks so helpful and informative, I will definitely be back. I wish I could run but I feel like I can't breathe when I try. Yoga seems to be better for me.

Hope to hear from you again soon.

Anonymous said...

I came across your blog on anxiety and I am very impressed. I am a social worker and I work in mental health. I facilitate a group with several clients have anxiety as their diagnosis or part of another diagnosis. I am printing off your list to share with them tomorrow. I think they will find your words helpful especially coming from one who has been there. Keep on journaling and sharing your story.

Aimée said...

LeighPP, Welcome to the blog. I want you to know you made my whole day! When I decided to make this blog public the reason for doing so was to help others. I figured if one person could learn from what I have gone through and either get the motivation to take control of their anxiety or continue to learn methods of managing it than that would make it all worth it. I hope your clients enjoy the list and maybe get some ideas, or just some needed motivation. Let me know if there is any other way I can help you because thats all I want to do :) Thanks again for the comment, I REALLY appreciate it. You are so sweet. I hope you come back soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee,

Liked your suggestions, as they are practical. Wanted to add a suggestion: try Emotional Freedom Techniques(EFT). I have used it on myself and others. It is extremely simple and very effective. Free manual available at emofree.com
You may also find my free ebooks available at soulspeakindia.com interesting.

Best Wishes,


Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee

I got onto reading your blog from the PsychCentral newsletter. I am from Sydney, Australia and have just had a complete breakdown caused by my anxiety. I have had to quit my job and am now committed to spending 100% of my time trying to overcome my anxiety.

I am not sure how or if this is possible, but I need to believe that one day I can be the same (if not better!) as I used to be before anxiety ruled my life - fearless, free and fun. One day I hope to wake up and not have to worry about how I am going to drive somewhere, what I am going to say to my friends or whether or not I can be left alone.

I truely hope that this day will come and until then I will look forward to reading your blog and seeing how you go in your own personal journey. I wish you all the very best and thank you for all the time and effort you have put into making myself and others out there who suffer from anxiety reaslise that we are not alone.

Cheers Natty :-) xo

Anonymous said...

which B vitamin. There are several and what dosage do you use?

Aimée said...

Welcom Sangeeta, Natalie, and jngarner. I appreciate your comments and suggestions.

Natalie, I hope you are able to find peace so that you can return to the lifestyle you want. I hope there are things you can find here to help you get a little bit closer.

Because I am not a doctor and I don't want to get sued, I will tell you where I read about the Vitamin B supplement in my post today- aug 10, 2007 so you can have all the info I have on it. I hope it will help you.

Thanks everyone again and I hope to hear from you soon.

Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee

Thanks for your reply. I have really been struggling with the anxiety lately, and as such have decided to go on medication. My Dr has prescribed Cipramil which is a low dose anti-depressant. I am feeling a bit strange after taking taking it, but I think that is normal for the first few days until your body adjusts.

Fingers crossed that the drugs work to help some of the anxiety that I am currently experiencing. I tried to do it on my own, but it wasn't working!

What is your experience with medication, and do you find that it has helped you?


Aimée said...

I take a daily 50 MG dose of Zoloft every day. It took about a month or more before I started noticing my life getting back to normal. I don't have any side effects from it, just that my anxiety isn't as severe as it used to be. Also, when I feel an attack coming on I take a Clonozepam which is the generic form of Klonopin. I only take this when I need it and it starts working within 30 minutes. If I take too much it makes me drowsy and dizzy but if I take the right amount at the right time it works like a charm. Basically it makes me feel normal and helps me to calm down. It took some trial and error to find out a system that worked for me. I've tried Paxil before as well but I don't think I stuck with it long enough to really know if it would have worked or not. The system that I have now seems to be really well for me.

I have never heard of the kind you were prescribed so I am curious to know how it goes. Please write back with an update soon!

Take Care

Anonymous said...

A wonderful testiment to a courageous young lady. Since 1974 I have been a depressive, and suffered from Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

Mostly everday I suffer from de-realization quite common. During my time I've been married and raised 2 precious daughters. Back in 1974 people didn't talk about depression and anxiety - and now - I'm certainly glad that treatment and blogs like yours are available.

Back in 1974 it was ECT's and powerful psychotropic drugs nasty stuff.

Your Top 10 tools are great. I take Zoloft and Clonazapam as well. Tough for a broadcaster of 33 years. Good work.

www.cjvr.com Listen live

Aimée said...

Thanks Bill! I hope to hear from you again soon :)

Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee

I have now been taking Cipramil 30mg (I think it is called Celexa in the USA) for around a month. It has certainly helped me a great deal with my anxiety. The first week was hell, I had so many panic attacks I thought that I couldn't continue with the drug. The medication has now stabilised and I find that I am now able to do things that I wasn't before such as driving, going out by myself without the panicky feelings which is such a relief! I still have a way to go but I feel that I am getting there.

I am seeing a Psychologist once a week for psychotherapy and he has given me such insight as to why I suffer from anxiety and the tools that I can use to overcome it. It is such a great feeling for me to be able to unload on my crap onto someone and I always feel so much better afterward. I think that therapy is the key for me to get better.

Hope you are doing well!


Aimée said...

Hi Natalie,

I am so glad that therapy is working for you. I think a lot depends on the therapist you go to as well, and it sounds like you have a good one. What kind of tools has he recommended to you?

What country are you from?

Hope to hear from you soon,

Anonymous said...

Hi Aimee

I have been to a few different therapists, and I have found that most are not that good! The therapist that I am seeing now can pinpoint exactly what happened to me as a child which has led to the behaviour patterns I now have which makes me anxious. I was so happy to have found this therapist, because I really needed to understand WHY I am so anxious all the time.

The best tool that he has told me is to stay in the present. If you are in the present moment, and not thinking 5 bridges in advance, then you cannot be scared. There is no point thinking about things that happened in the past, or things that "might happen" in the future. Creating scenarios in your mind of what "might happen" are detrimental. The only thing that you should focus on is what is happening right now, as that is all there ever is.

I have further supplemented this theory by reading a book called "The Power of Now" by Ekhart Tolle. It is an interesting, thought provoking book that really has assisted me understanding this concept, and has also greatly assisted in keeping my mind locked into the present and not going off thinking unrealistic future scenarios. This has helped my anxiety a great deal, as I have recognised that most of my thought patterns were related to "what if" scenarios that made me scared and anxious. It takes some practice, but it really does help and if you do it often enough then it will become a new entrenched behaviour pattern.

The thing with anxiety is that there are so many different methods out there to try to combat it, and everybody is different so it really is a matter of finding out what works for you.

I am from Sydney, Australia. I really enjoy reading your blog, you have a lot of knowledge and insight which I have found most helpful.

Hope to chat to you soon!


anuka said...

Hi. it was interesting to explore your blog. yes, you're totally right about 10 anxiety tools.However, i don't trust medication, more you take more you become dependent on it. Myself is novice therapist, i believe for anxeity/depression Therapy is the best. because, there are always hidden. again, tnx for the good posts, and keep doing it! Zola

Leia said...

Hi Aimee,

I am new to your blog. I was wondering, what advice did you receive/actions did you take regarding the Zoloft and your pregnancy?


Aimée said...

Hi Leia,

I was told it was really important to try to not be on medication for the first trimester of my pregnancy. The day I found out I was pregnant I stopped taking the Zoloft cold turkey. Then, after the first trimester I wanted to get back on it but realized it takes several weeks to really start working and by the time it would kick in I would just have to stop taking it again for the third trimester. So I didn't use it at all.

Hope that helps!

souciante said...

Thank you for this fantastic information and for sharing your story and ideas.

Some of what you have written is so similar to what I am going through that I got goosebumps reading. I am also very underweight and very much relate to your experiences around that (especially how people can be so rude). I got the anxiety and phobia workbook a few weeks ago but you have inspired me to take a deep breath (or 20!) and actually start working through it. I have just started a journal that one close friend knows about so far so I'm making some baby steps with items 1, 6 and 8 :) Good luck!

izzyd said...

I'm very new to this blog thing but am trying it out as a way of keeping a journal like you mentioned.

I really like the idea of yoga! I want to find out if I can get a game for my XBOX too...

Mike Miller, PhD said...

I appreciate sharing what has worked for you (Many SOLID Tools!). I look forward to reading more. Best wishes.

Dr, Mike

Anxiety Forum said...

Zoloft is a life saver... TRUST ME PEOPLE! it takes some time to kick in (2 - 3 Weeks) but it really helps.

Anonymous said...

As an effective medicine, paxil would surely provide you immense relief if you are in the grip of panic disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder but it is altogether true that the usage of Paxil occasionally facilitates certain side-effects such as headache, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat et al. These side-effects can yield serious results if not treated immediately hence take this medicine only on proper prescription.

Unknown said...

Being recently diagnosed with social anxiety, I was curious what steps I could take to get my worrying and negative thoughts under control. I am thankful I ran across your site, as it is providing some useful tips.

Anxiety Survivor said...

Excellent advice Aimee. Thank you for all that you do to help out our anxiety little community! Sincerely - Bill :)

Izabela said...

Thanks for the blog, I hope I can implement some if not all of your tools. I hope I can start to conquer my anxiety.

Anonymous said...

You should never take Antidepressants, Please only take Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, or Valium if you dont want to ruin your life. I took Antidepressants for years and now I have tardiva diskinsa its drug induced by taking antidepressants and you can never get rid of it now I have uncontrollable movents randomly throughout the day forever. Benzodiazepines do not have dire side effects like Antidepressants and also most Xanax, Klonopin and the others help with depression better than any antidepressant out right now. My doc writes me a 3 month supply of Prozac ever month and one month supply of Ativan. and every time I go see him he writes me another 3month supply of Prozac to go with the Ativan, this is so that he can get his kickback from the drug companie. Whis is a substantial amount when you think of how many people he does this way. It's very sad. Just remember do not ever take antidepressants unless you want to develop a dissabilating desiese called Tardiva Diskinsa. uncontrollable movements! Thanks your friend. John Doe.

Unknown said...

Thanks so much for your post, and your blog. Millions of Americans are suffering from adult and adolescent depression or anxiety. Silver Hill Hospital has clinicians trained in evaluation, diagnosis and treatment and provides hope for people who may not have been getting the right care. Talking/blogging about mental illness can be extremely helpful not just for yourself, but for others in need. Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I have been off of anti-depressants ( Lexapro) for awhile, but history has shown that when you stop the pills the anxiety can come back. I have taken Paxil also twice in the past over the years.Because I have been worrying so much lately about money, and so on and experiencing severe depression at times if history is anything to go by I am a ticking bomb for those attacks to start back.I went to my doctor who quickly pulled out her little pad and without so much as a question was getting ready to write her little prescription. I was a little disgusted.I think this problem can be beat but it will take some committment to some of the ideas I see here. Good luck to all here, I know how much community helps and how scary this is when it is happening. Knowing your not alone always helps.

Unknown said...

The Anxiety & Phobia Workbook is a great tool. I bought it a few years ago and it helped at the time but then I stopped using it. I am really struggling with my anxiety right now and need to get ahold of things. I take Cetilopram but I do not feel it is really doing the job. When I get stressed or there are major changes my anxiety goes on overdrive and the meds don't help at all when this happens. It's funny that you mentioned the book because I was planning to pull it back out and get back on track. I have also found that exercise helps a lot but I have been finding it difficult to get motivated since I have been feeling so down. I didn't know about the Vitamin B though. I am definitely going to try that. :) Thank you for all the helpful tips. Hopefully some will work well for me and I can start to get this under control. It's also nice to know that there are others sharing this same problem. Sometimes I feel as if no one understands what I am going through. It has been hard for me to find a good support system. Thank you, though, for your thoughts and the information!!

A said...

It's nice to read about other people's experiences. I think that being understood and validated is such a big part of this. I feel grateful to live in a time when the dialogue is open and the understanding of disorders like anxiety has grown so much. I had never experienced anxiety before last year, and it really threw me for a loop. I didn't really get it. It's been a tough thing for me to accept. But I'm starting to find some meaning in all of it. Great insights and suggestions! I recently started blogging some of my thoughts on all of this as well. I think it does help.

elizabethripleyhorn said...

Could you tell me a little bit more about your experience with Zoloft? I recently tried one dose before bed, on the recommendation of a counselor, and it caused me to have severe insomnia and anxiety all night long. It has now been three days and the anxiety hasn't subsided. I feel worse than I ever felt before I took it. Any info would be helpful. Thanks.

Aimée said...

Hi e.horn, I have a few blog posts about Zoloft, you should look for them on the blog for my detailed experience using it. However, my anxiety did get much worse and my side effects sucked for a couple weeks before things got better. Hang in there! If a few weeks have gone by and you are still having issues, maybe its not the right medication for you. I've heard a lot of great things about Celexa.

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