Have you ever noticed that when you go to the spa there is a distinct, but quite pleasant, smell in the air? That is because of the benefits of aromatherapy, which some claim can alter your brain activity and make you more relaxed.
Therapist Terri Cole suggests that those with anxiety use oils such as jasmine, rose, chamomile and sandalwood to help ease their heightened state of alert.
You can carry some of these oils or scents with you during the day to smell if you are feeling particularly anxious or you can take a bath with these scents to help foster a sense of calm and peacefulness. You can even try filling your space with one of the scents and meditating while breathing deeply.
4. Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is a great way to calm down when you are particularly anxious, although breathing too deeply can make you dizzy.
If you find you are particularly anxious, focus on your breathing, which may have shifted to hyperventilating during an episode of anxiety or panic. These short breaths you take during an episode of panic may make you feel dizzy or like you are going to faint, contributing to your anxiety.
Instead, sit calmly and focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly and count to four and then breathe out slowly counting to four. These deep breaths will encourage you to feel calmer and at peace. Focusing on your breath will also take your mind off of whatever it is you are anxious about, at least temporarily.
When you’re in constant pain, exercise is one of the last things you want to think about. However, exercise releases endorphins and helps combat both anxiety and depression. It is, in a way, a natural anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication.
Although I don’t recommend exercising if you’re in extreme pain, exercising when your pain is minimal can actually be very helpful in reducing anxiety (and helping with your RA in general).
It can also help reduce that dreaded joint stiffness that many people with RA find they struggle with. But instead of pushing yourself to run a marathon, do exercise that is gentle on your joints.
Swimming laps, slowly riding a bike, using the elliptical machine, doing yoga and taking long walks are all great forms of exercise that will increase your mobility while decreasing your anxiety—and won’t wear on the joints too heavily.
Meditation is a wonderful way to help put the mind at ease and keep it at rest. As mentioned above, YouTube and iTunes podcasts are great places to start in order to find free guided meditations.
You can do guided meditations or progressive muscle relaxation – either way it will help you feel more in tune with your body, relax, de-stress and take your mind off of what is troubling you. After you finish a session, you will inevitably feel more relaxed and at ease.
The Bottom Line…
Now that you have a few rheumatoid arthritis and anxiety coping mechanisms, the next time you have a panic or anxiety attack, you’ll be prepared to manage and reduce it head on.
However, if you find that these strategies don’t work for you, be sure to schedule an appointment with your doctor to discuss if you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder and next steps in treating it. Anxiety is a very treatable condition, so don’t allow it to take over your life.