“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind.If encouraged, it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” – Arthur Somers Roche
Sometimes it feels as if there is nothing worst than the feeling of being riddled with anxiety.
When we are anxious, our minds tend to lead us to think of only the worst case scenarios. It robs us of our joy, makes us lose focus and leaves us feeling as if we have no control over our own lives.
Fortunately for us, there’s much we can do to reduce anxiety and its effects on our mind, body and soul.
Below, I’m sharing a handful of simple and fuss-free to apply tips that I’ve found effective in helping me establish and maintain a calmer peace of mind – even in situations that previously would send me to a tailspin.
My hope is that they’ll also help you, especially in these uncertain times.
Disclaimer: Do note that for those of us who often experience anxiety, it will take a bit more time and practice to reduce the feeling of anxiousness as oppose to those who feel it occasionally.
If you’ve dealt with anxiety for a sustained period of time, seek out consultation with a mental health professional as these tips are not substitutes for professional help.
1. Take Deep Breaths
It seems hard to believe that one of the simplest action that you can take – taking deep breaths – may just be one of the most effective way to calm ourselves down when we feel an anxiety attack coming on.
Breathing deeply differs from our normal breathing (shallow breathing) as it requires your focus to breathe from your diaphragm as opposed to just breathing from your nose. More over, shallow breathing may often feels tense and constricted, while deep breathing produces relaxation.
If you are not familiar with this type of breathing, first take a normal breath and start to become aware of your breath. Once you have done so, take a slow, deeper breath. The air coming in through your nose should move downward into your lower belly.
Let your abdomen expand fully. Continue by breathe out through your mouth – alternatively you can breathe through your nose if it feels more natural. Alternate normal and deep breaths several times. Pay attention to how you feel when you inhale and exhale normally and when you breathe deeply.
By just taking a minimum of 10 deep breaths whenever you find yourself feeling anxious, you can instantly feel more peaceful and more importantly, it could bring our focus back to the present moment even in moments of panic or extreme anxiety.
By focusing our attention to the present moment, we are able to give our best effort in finding solutions to the issue(s) we worry about. Another great thing about this anxiety reducing tool is that it is also accessible to you whenever and wherever you need it.
2. Listen to Inspiring Tunes
I’m a true believer in the power of music and great tunes can be a great tool in lifting our spirits whenever we feel anxious or overwhelmed.
Create a special playlist of your favorite inspiring (preferably upbeat) tunes and be sure to have them on hand to give you a spirit boost whenever you feel less than stellar.
If you’re up for it, why not kick it up a notch and have yourself a dance party of one while you are listening to the music. It may sound silly but I have found it to be a great and quick way to lift my spirit and shake off those pesky anxieties.
3. Let it Out
When we are plagued with anxiety, one of the best ways to alleviate yourself from that palpable worry is to talk it out with someone you trust.
One the the toughest things to deal with when it comes to anxiety is the facade that you’re alone and that you’re the only one in the world who is going through challenging times. This, of course, couldn’t be further from the truth.
Feeling anxious and feeling like you have to keep it all bottled up is unhealthy and can often feel excruciatingly difficult.
The truth is, all of us have experienced anxiety and worry and this is why it is crucial for us to be able to turn to our partner, friend, parent or sibling and share our troublesome thoughts.
More often than not, you’d find that they too have experienced similar situations and would able to offer solutions to help you or at the very least, lend an emphatic shoulder to lean on.
If you prefer to express or communicate your emotions & feelings through movements, I recommend for you to try “Primal Dance”. While it may sound daunting, don’t worry, it doesn’t require any dance experience as no choreography is involved.
It combines the power of music and conscious breathing with free flowing movements which allow you to express and release emotional tensions & blockages and gain a sense of peace & calm in the process.
Curious as to how it all works? Experience it first hand by joining virtual “Body & Emotion in Motion” session. You’ll thank yourself for doing so.
4. Jot it All Down
If for one reason or another you feel uncomfortable sharing your feelings and thoughts to others, an alternative tool you can use is to keep a journal.
That way, you can “spill” whatever you are going throughout and/or feeling in private. There’s something soothing and cathartic in writing out your inner most thoughts into paper that often leaves you feeling calmer and more at peace.
As someone who have journaled regularly since early teen years, it became evident that most of my anxieties were just stories that I created and that my worries were far from being real.
In writing our thoughts down consistently, you too may found most things that you have previously felt anxious or worried about in the past never actually end up happening.
Our minds like to play tricks on us, making us focus on the worst scenarios of situations as opposed to the reality and this is definitely something worth keeping in mind the next time we find ourselves worrying unnecessarily. As Dan Zadra, a renowned author said, “Worry is a misuse of imagination.”
Not sure on how to start? Buzzfeed’s tips on keeping a journal may come in handy!
5. Be Physically Active
Through numerous research, science has provided much evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than those that lead sedentary lives (those who are not physically active).
Exercise may also improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress and feeling of worry. In one study, researchers found that those who do regular vigorous exercise were 25% less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder.
Whatever type of exercises you prefer, aside from being extremely beneficial to our health and fitness, making sure that you get your regular dose of exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety.
Though it may sound counter-intuitive to get your heart pumping to reduce anxiety, as you may already know, exercise increases our endorphin levels which are our body’s “feel good” chemicals.
As a result, it helps us burn off excess adrenaline that we produce when we are at a heightened state of anxiety.
The Harvard medical school recently published a post where they recommend yoga as one of the activities that can help you to reduce anxiety and relax.
During this time of travel restrictions and isolation, yoga is a gentle yet effective way to maintain your health & fitness as it’s something that you can easily keep up while homebound.
If the yoga classes on YouTube aren’t cutting it, why not consider joining an online yoga retreat?
Not only will you be able to lower your anxiety & stress levels and recharge, you’ll be able to enjoy connecting with like-minded people from all over the globe in real time!
>> Looking for more resources on this topic? Here’s a comprehensive list of mental health focused website & call centers worldwide.