When my battle with postpartum anxiety began, I quickly learned that certain things could trigger my anxiety. There would be times when anxiety would strike and I had no idea why, but there were a handful of times that I began to notice a pattern.
Identifying the triggers in anxiety is extremely important in helping your response to them. Some of the triggers don’t make sense and some are easy to feel embarrassed by. It’s important to realize that everyone’s journey is different and there is nothing to be ashamed of when struggling through anxiety. Knowing what triggers your anxious feelings can really help in overcoming panic attacks.
Some of the triggers I was identifying made me feel really stupid, if I am being honest. I could not understand why something so little could cause such a big reaction in my body. But in researching and reading through support groups I realized that I wasn’t the only one. Realizing I wasn’t the only one really helped me not to feel silly through this journey.
Once you identify triggers, you can help yourself through those situations a few different ways.
1. Avoid triggers where possible. I know you’re probably thinking you need to get through this, you can’t avoid stuff forever, and you’re right. But for a season, maybe you can. If something makes you really anxious and you can back away for a little, I highly encourage to do so. Sometimes you just need to say no. I made sure that my schedule never had me driving at night until I was better able to manage my anxiety. I also keep snacks with me everywhere I go or tell myself a swing through the drive through to settle my growling stomach is going to be okay. Preventing some triggers until I know how to better handle it is okay. It won’t be that way forever. For a season, it’s okay to say no.
2. Prepare yourself in situations where avoiding triggers isn’t possible. If you know that you can’t avoid a few triggers, like being in a crowded place or a messy home, acknowledge why those things can be hard for you and allow yourself to be okay with that. Be honest with yourself about how you feel. Maybe enlist some moral support through it. Take deep breaths when you start to feel panicked or anxious. Sometimes reminding myself of a previous instance where I felt anxious in the same environment and focusing on the fact that I got through it can really help. If I made it out okay once, I can make it through this again.
3. Deep breaths. You can’t panic and focus on breathing at the same time. So focus on breathing. Take deep breaths in, hold it a few seconds, and let it out. When you’re anxiety is flaring up, breathe through it.
4. Distract yourself. The art of distraction is a great way to get your mind on something else. Anxiety is a mind battle, so get your mind elsewhere. The best advice I was given was to not pray about the anxiety because it can make me even more anxious thinking about it. Instead, pray for other people. Keep a running list somewhere that when your mind starts racing, you can refocus it on praying for others. It’s such a great way to shift your focus. This is perfect when your mind starts racing when you’re trying to go to sleep. My other go to distraction is to clean. Once I start cleaning I stop thinking about everything. Taking a walk, going for a run, playing with your kids, anything that gets your brain refocused is a great way to fight through anxiety.
5. Essential Oils. I became a believer of essential oils when I struggled with postpartum insomnia after Jase. When I turned to them for anxiety I couldn’t believe how well they were helping. I have loved the Balance blend from DoTerra and anything that brings about relaxation. I have been very thankful for them.
6. Reach out. Don’t try to be superwoman. If you’re struggling and it’s getting hard to bare, reach out to your doctor for help. I tried to fight naturally, but after a few weeks I was losing control. I reached out for help and I don’t regret it. Now eight months into this journey and I have stepped out again to attend counseling. It’s okay to need help through this.
Anxiety can really take a toll on you as a person and cause you to forget who you used to be. I understand what that’s like. But it’s encouraging to know that it won’t be this way forever. Knowing what triggers it and being able to have ideas to combat that can really make a difference.