Anxiety can affect each of us. It can come in waves, always be around or, you may barely notice it. Anxiety can be overwhelming, frustrating and exhausting…anxiety can be downright annoying when it gets in the way of you living your life. It can also lead to panic attacks, well those can be downright scary.
Some forms of anxiety are necessary. Like when you are getting ready to perform at a sporting event or your next big business meeting. This kind of anxiety is good because it helps you stay focused on what you need to focus on, to be present in the moment, and to perform to your best ability.
Other forms of anxiety are exhausting. Like the kind that hits you out of the blue, or that you walk around with. It’s natural to want to find ways to manage your anxiety so you can live your best life.
Here are 5 effective ways to help with anxiety:
Just breathe and breathe again. The power of the breath is pretty amazing and it helps our body relax. Physiologically, when our body goes into flight or fight, the only thing that we can do in that moment is to stop and breath, to try and get our heart rate to come back down. Deep belly breathing helps our bodies calm down.
Try it right now.
1. Place one hand on your belly and as you breath in, expand your belly, hold the breath, fill your lungs and pause for a couple of seconds. Then Exhale.
2. As you exhale, push all the air out of your lungs through your mouth and imagine your belly button touching your spine.
3. Try this technique three times and see how you feel. You will feel relaxed, lighter and focused.
When anxiety hits, sometimes we might want to isolate ourselves and be alone. However, that is what fears wants you to do. It’s important to contact people in your support system and let them help you. I get that sometimes you may want some time on your own to breath, but just don’t isolate. Let the people in your life who love and care about you know what’s going on and use them as support. It’s also good to have a therapist to help you through times that the anxiety just feels unmanageable or you notice you are isolating yourself too much.
Go out and be active or find activity in your house. Moving your body helps you cope with anxiety and helps it go away. Being physically active doesn’t mean you have to go out and do a really intense workout; it means moving your body. For some people, an intense workout really helps with their anxiety and for others a brisk walk helps. Yoga is an amazing for helping you cope with anxiety also. Mediation helps calm the mind and is a good practice. There are a ton of apps you can get on your phone to help you cope with anxiety. The Calm app and the Breathe app are a couple that help you cope with anxiety and offer a guided meditation. Exercising with your friends or partner is another way to help because you are accessing your support system—friends or family who will hold you accountable and with whom you share a connection. These are good ways to help you deal with the anxiety that you might be feeling.
Along with exercise, sleep and diet also play a role with your anxiety. Healthy eating is super important because what we put into our bodies affects how we feel. Making sure you get the right amount of sleep for you is also important. When we eat a healthy diet, and get the right amount of sleep and exercise, we feel better and it helps us cope with the stress and anxiety that we feel. Doing these things are really important for you in your everyday life.
What are your healthy outlets? What are the things that you do for yourself that bring you joy, you feel relaxed, and take your mind of the world? Having healthy outlets in your life, and positive distractions, helps you cope with anxiety. Healthy outlets can be breathing exercises, smiling more, exercise, journaling, listening to music you enjoy, starting a project that you feel passionate about, going for a walk in nature or just being out in nature, visiting museums or simply reading a good book. Healthy outlets are distractions that fuel you and don’t take away from you. As you are reading this, make a list of all your healthy outlets or new things that you want to try that bring light into your life. Enjoy participating in these healthy outlets.
Positive Self Talk
This one is crucial. When we are experiencing anxiety sometimes or most times we beat ourselves up with our words. We jump into a downward spiral of negativity. In these moments it’s crucial to stop ourselves and give ourselves some self-love and positive self talk. This might seem cheesy or silly to you but what we say to ourselves matters. Even if we say to ourselves, “You will get through this moment,” in the middle of experiencing anxiety, we are giving ourselves a positive belief instead of a negative one.
Remember: when we love ourselves, when we focus on our accomplishments, big or small, we feel better. At the end of the night, focus on what you were able to do—even the really small things…it is better than focusing on the negative.
One thing that helps us focus on positive self talk is gratitude and positive affirmations. Saying things like, “I am enough,” and listing things that we are grateful for, helps shifts our thinking to the positive instead of staying stuck in the downward spiral of negativity. Keeping a journal is a good way to reflect on gratitude and those positive affirmations. I really like the 5 minute journal app, you can get on your phone to help with gratitude, affirmations and positive self-talk.
There are some moments where you also have to let the anxiety just come through you. We don’t always want to get rid of anxiety. Sometimes it helps us or drives us to keep moving forward or it helps keep us safe.
When it’s 3am and you are experiencing anxiety, the best thing I can tell you to do is just breathe. Know that this moment of anxiety will pass. If we keep trying to distract ourselves and just make it go away it sometime comes back even stronger. Just Breathe. After the moment passes then call your support group, go for a walk, give yourself some self-love.
I hope these five tips help you to manage your anxiety and to stay strong. Remember that not all anxiety is bad, and when it feels like too much, implements the five tips I have shared with you. Write them out for yourself or write out your own steps that help you with anxiety, so when it hits you have a visual to look at. Stay strong and believe in yourself.