Do you anticipate the future with scary predictions that aren’t necessarily based on facts?
You may suffer from anxiety. In an ideal world, we wouldn’t come up with thoughts that produce anxiety or stress, but we are human and worry about things. Anxiety and stress are the physical and emotional responses to perceived danger that usually don’t have any basis in truth. In our every day life the symptoms can express themselves in increased heart rate, poor concentration and decision-making and bad mood.
According to a recent study, over 70% of Americans take prescription drugs and a large portion of those pills are for anxiety. It is a scary thought to think that people take drugs that alter the chemical composition in their brains just to feel better. Others may not be resorting to prescription medication to deal with their anxiety, they try to cover it up and escape with alcohol or illicit drugs.
We understand that anxiety can really affect a person’s life, but for the vast majority of people dealing with anxiety – you and me included – drugs are not the only way to deal with it. So what can you do in an upsetting, scary situation? First step: DON’T PANIC! Of course, this is easier said than done, but there are ways to teach yourself to stay calm and help you to think clearly and handle the situation effectively.
Studies show that simple anxiety-reducing habits go a long way towards improving how you feel. Here are our TOP 8 habits to beat anxiety and take control over your life.
#1 Acknowledge Your Anxiety
When you try to hide your anxiety for months or even years, you only perpetuate your feeling of anxiety and start to believe that there is something inherently wrong with you. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Anxiety is not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you, you are a unique, valuable and good person, you simply suffer from anxiety. Acknowledge your anxious feelings, share how you feel with trustworthy people in your circle of friends and family, find an online support group and talk to others about what you are going through. You are not alone in feeling anxious and once you acknowledge your anxiety, you take the first important step towards eliminating it. Once you name the problem, you empower yourself to find solutions to solve it and open yourself up to learn how you can feel better.
#2 Breathe Deeply
While breathing may not deal with the underlying source of your anxiety, it is a great strategy to immediately deal with the symptoms of anxiety. Deep breathing calms your body and mind and turns off the adrenaline that’s being released when you feel anxious. Slow down, focus on your breath, count to ten and aim your attention on thinking clearly rather than let your emotions take over. Remember, short, shallow breaths only perpetuate the feelings of stress and anxiety in your body and brain. Slow, rhythmic, conscious breathing on the other hand as well as lengthening and strengthening the breath send signals to your brain that it is okay to relax.
#3 Be silent
Schedule some time when you completely disconnect from the world. That means, no emails, no phone, no TV, no internet, no news, no nothing. Start with small increments of time that seem doable and sustainable to you, even if it’s just a few minutes to start with. Let other people know you won’t be able to reach, so you can enjoy your moments of silence worry free. We live in a world with too much noise and the constant flow of information that is coming our way every single second is only boosting our stress levels. So planning much needed silent time may be just what you need.
#4 De-Clutter Your Brain
We wrote a blog about creating your space and will post it soon, but for now, keep in mind that physical clutter equals mental clutter. Whether it’s at work or at home, if your space is messy it’s much more difficult to relax and it will give you the feeling that your work is never done. Take 15 minutes to start to clean up your work area or living space and make it a habit of keeping things clean, which will also mean that it is much more anxiety free. Believe it or not, when you start to de-clutter, you will start to think a lot more rationally and there isn’t as much room for anxiety anymore.
#5 Express Gratitude
Gratitude works, it’s now been scientifically proven that having a gratitude practice helps to reduce anxiety, especially when it’s combined with being well-rested and getting enough sleep. Start a gratitude journal or just take a few minutes every morning and right before you go to bed to be grateful about three things in your life. If you practice gratitude on a regular basis, you get into a mindset of appreciation and eliminate space for a mindset of being anxious and overwhelmed. Trust us, we speak from experience and have been lucky enough to witness the power of expressing gratitude first hand many times… In every Yoga Teacher Training Program we lead, we encourage our students to start a gratitude journal right in the beginning. It is absolutely fascinating to see the transformation after just four weeks of a consistent gratitude practice.
By now most of us heard of the positive effects of meditation, but do you know that scientists have discovered that meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in your brain and can essentially rewire your brain to feel less stress? Numerous studies highlight the positive effects of meditation on mood, stress and anxiety. Besides giving you are more clear, focused and positive mind, meditation is also a way to observe what’s going on in your mind. This lets us figure out how and why our mind generates anxiety and what thoughts are provoking us to feel anxious. Once we understand our thought patterns, we are in a much better position to distance ourselves from those thoughts and learn how to replace them with positive, empowering thoughts.
#7 Visualize Something Positive
Instead of letting your anxious thoughts take control over your life, invest some time into visualizing how you handle a situation with clarity, calm and ease. Try not to be overcome by your current mental state and only focus on the feeling of how you confidently sail through the problem. Visualization is a great tool to reduce feelings of anxiety and stress and if you incorporate positive visualization in your daily routine, you will not only create a positive mindset that doesn’t leave room for anxiety, you will actually believe that positivity and anxiety-free living is your reality.
#8 Tone Your Inner Power
Think of your inner power as a muscle. Just like any other muscle in your body, the more you use it, the stronger and more toned it becomes and the more you are able to achieve and accomplish. Find healthy life strategies and every time you practice them, you increase your ability to deal with and ultimately conquer your anxiety. Maybe you couldn’t do it yesterday, but you can do it today. Like with all skills, you have to practice them until they become automatic and that’s when you can permanently free yourself from anxiety
Anxiety can be dealt with. It is possible to reduce anxiety, even eliminate it by taking a proactive approach to address the symptoms and causes in a natural way. Instead of running for a medical solution or resorting to damaging options that will only stick a band-aid on anxiety, try to handle your anxiety in a healthy way that doesn’t involve unnecessary drugs. Instead of drinking your anxiety away, admit you are feeling anxious, address your anxiety directly and start the transition into an anxiety and stress free life.
RESOLVE YOUR ANXIETY TODAY AND START TO ENJOY LIFE AGAIN
Joschi & Monika