Anxiety And YOU!
Every single human being experiences anxiety from time to time. It’s nature’s way of motivating us to get our butt in gear or anticipate and react to a potential or future threat. Difficulties come up, when we are anxious too much and too often. When we experience anxiety, certain hormones like adrenaline are released into the body. Our heart rate goes up, our breathing increases, and we get ready for a fight or flight response.
The Many Dangers Of Anxiety
Every single human being experiences anxiety from time to time. It’s nature’s way of motivating us to get our butt in gear or anticipate and react to a potential or future threat. Difficulties come up, when we are anxious too much and too often. When we experience anxiety, certain hormones like adrenaline are released into the body. Our heart rate goes up, our breathing increases, and we get ready for a fight or flight response.
What happens when you are in a constant state of anxiety?
The body has no chance to calm down. You stay wound up and anxious longer and longer. This puts a lot of chronic stress on the body and mind.
That’s the type of anxiety we’re going to work towards reducing. It’s not about never feeling anxious again. It’s about finding and restoring balance, health, and wellbeing.
Anxiety Can Be Quite Debilitating
First, we need to understand the different types of anxiety.
- Panic Attacks
- Generalized Anxiety
- OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
- Medical reasons for Anxiety
Almost all of us have experienced a panic attack at some point or another. This type of panic comes on very suddenly. That is when the fight or flight reflex comes into play. It can be very disconcerting because some of the symptoms are truly disturbing. Rapid heartbeat, rigid body movements, nausea, breathing difficulties, clammy hands, and so much more. There are techniques, which I will share, that will help you to manage them.
Childhood trauma, mental conditioning, loss, life changes, caffeine (in excessive amounts), recreational drug use. For the empath, there may also be some past life stuff that triggers at certain times.
As a result of these things people begin a journey to mistaken belief systems, negative self talk and low self esteem, and a continued belief system that will bring them back to anxiety in one form or another over and over again.
If you are an empath, you will likely experience more anxiety than those who do not have your special intuitive gifts. No matter what type of anxiety you experience, while it takes some time for the physical to manifest itself, the mental effects of anxiety are immediate. As you become more anxious, you will use strategies that are ok for the short term, but for long term relief, I have some awesome things to share with you.
Recognizing Anxiety Quickly
Recognition is the key to being able to manage your anxiety the moment.
Whether you use breathing techniques, meditations, positive thinking, or any of the other tips and techniques you come find useful here, the key to being less anxious is to notice it as soon as it starts.
Pay attention to what the triggers seem to be, (and there can be many), what your first thoughts are before it becomes out of control, and what the physical symptoms are. The recommendation is to create a log including: Date, Time, Triggering Event and/or Food you ate, where you were.
You want to pay attention to both your mind and your body. Each will give you clues long before you start to feel out of control. The earlier you can disrupt the feeling of anxiety, the easier it is to break through and stop yourself from getting out of control.
You’ll experience both physical and mental symptoms long before you get too nervous and anxious to do anything about it. As you know, physical symptoms can include trouble sleeping, insomnia, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, sweating, increased heart rate, headache, fatigue, and weakness.
The mental signs that you’re starting to get anxious are a feeling of dread of fear, having a hard time concentrating or having a blank mind, feeling high strung and on the alert for danger, being tense and unsalable to sit still, and being irritable. Again, you won’t feel all of these mental and emotional times every time, but they are good signs to look out for.
First of all, it’s ultra important to STOP. Recognize that you are likely going into anxiety. If you are at work, go to the bathroom, so outside, do whatever it takes to remove yourself from the situation for a few moments. Trust me this one works. It takes practice. Keep trying till it works.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
(not my video, I have used this when I was going through my lung cancer journey, and continue to use it when other traumatic triggers come up.
When I learned mindfulness as part of my lifestyle, and then taught mindfulness meditation classes, I finally understood that part of breaking the cycle of an anxiety attack is to focus closely on something else. Here is an exercise you can try, that may help you.
In your home, start practicing Mindful walking. This isn’t just walking and thinking about it. It’s kind of like slow motion walking. If you think about the old kung fu movies, where they made the moves in slow motion, that’s what I am talking about. For each step you take, do it in slow motion. Lift your leg slowly, notice every part of your leg, how the muscles, joints and tendons work together, slowly move your leg forward, and then as you step down, notice how your foot lands. Which part of your foot lands first? Then take the next step by doing the same. Keep your eyes softly looking forward. It’s just brilliant. There are other exercises you can do, but let’s start here.
Whenever you get anxious or fearful, your first reaction should be to stop, and take a deep breath, and readjust your thinking. After that you should be able to look at the situation more calmly and be better able to judge if there is actually anything to worry about. You’ll also find yourself calm and collected enough to start making a plan and working through whatever issues arise, instead of simply reacting from a feeling of anxiety. The affirmation “I am enough” is not enough.
The more powerful statement is saying I am... and add the following as needed.
I am in the process of breathing out anxiety and breathing in calm I am looking forward to releasing anxiety once and for all
I am compassion
I am kindness
I am love
I am in the process of calming my mind and body.
One step at a time.
Ask Yourself: What’s The Worst That Could Happen?
Here is another great coping strategy. It’s super simple, but quite effective. Whenever you find yourself anxious about something that’s about to happen, or might happen in the future ask yourself:
When you start to worry, or are getting too anxious about something, stop and start to imagine in great detail what the worst possible outcome could be. If everything that could go wrong, would go wrong, what would happen? Chances are that the outcome is usually underwhelming.
Let’s say you’re anxious about getting up in front of a group of peers to make a speech. The worst that could happen is that you mess up and stumble over your words. You. might think it’s the end of the world but in reality it shows your audience that you are courageous, and that you are human. It may even empower someone to get up and do something they are afraid to do as well.
Maybe you’re worried about talking to the cute girl or guy at work. Again, what’s the worst that could happen? You ask him or her or them out and the answer is no. At the very least you’ve tried and you’re no worse off than if you’d done nothing. You have an answer and that means that you are free from your worried thoughts about it. In fact, you may have saved yourself a lot of trouble.
When you finally know the outcome or the answer to one of your fears and suddenly you’re not anxious about the unknown anymore. It becomes a known allows you to decide what is next. Knowledge wipes out fear. Nine times out of ten, the worst case scenario is less frightening than the anxiety about the unknown.
Breathing Exercises To Calm Your Nervous System
As I mentioned earlier on, one of the best things you can do to calm down when anxiety rears its ugly head is to pay attention to your breath.
When you get anxious, your breathing goes shallow and fast. Paying attention to your breath and focusing on slow, steady breathing in turn helps calm your nervous system down. That’s why these simple exercises work so well.
Take slow and steady breaths, breathing in through your nose to a count of 4, holding your breath to the count of 4 and releasing your breath slowly through your mouth to the count of 8. Do this 4 times and then go back to your natural breathing state.
Another great technique if you have the opportunity to sit or lay down is to practice breathing with your diaphragm. Get comfortable, relax, and place one hand on your stomach. And one on your heart. Start breathing in and focus your mind on the feeling of your stomach rising. Slowly breathe out and pay attention to how your hand lowers back down. Keep breathing slowly and steady, focusing your mind on your diaphragm. I
They are also very helpful when you are having a hard time falling asleep. Practice your breathing exercises in bed and it won’t take long before you start drifting off to sleep.
Do You Have A Support System In Place?
Let me ask you a question? Do you have a good support system in place for those bad days when the anxiety becomes too much, or you start to slide into depression? A handful of people who are there for you, that you can use as a soundboard and whose shoulders you can lean on can be invaluable in times of high anxiety.
We’ve talked in the past about the fact that we can get in a spiral of anxiety that it’s hard to get out of. We are anxious and worried, which in turn makes us more anxious and worried about being anxious and worried. You get the idea. If you rely solely on yourself
in those situations, it can be hard to get out of your own head long enough to look at the situation objectively and realize that things aren’t nearly as bad or frightening as they seem. This is where that support system will come in handy.
Think about the people in your life that you are close to. Who gets you? Who understands the anxiety you suffer from? Who is good at pulling you out when you’re having a bad day by offering a hug, drags you out for coffee, or uses humor to make you forget what you’re anxious about, even for just a few minutes?
While you may not feel like socializing when you’re having a rough day or week, or if the idea of spending time with people in itself may make you a little anxious (particularly if you’re an introvert), social contact and connections are important. We are at our core social creatures. That’s why it’s important to set up that support system and reach out to it in times of need.
Of course you aren’t limited to your circle of family, partners and friends when it comes to this support system. Maybe you aren’t comfortable sharing your anxiety issues with them. Maybe they aren’t willing or have the ability to provide you with the encouragement and support you need. That’s ok. Every person in your life is there for a reason. It’s ok if they can’t help you with your anxiety. It’s even better if they are honest about it, because having someone who can relate, and who can listen to you when you need it, is far better than someone who doesn’t have the skills to help.
Finding a support group or even a fellow anxiety sufferer can be a big help. Reach out and see what’s available in your area. A therapist can be another key figure in your support system. If you are seeing a therapist right now, or are working with a life coach, ask them for help to build out the rest of your support system. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to reach out to your system when you’re in need. They are here to help.
Go For A Walk To Reduce Stress And Prevent Anxiety
Let’s talk about something quick and easy you can do to prevent anxiety or at the very least greatly reduce the effects it has on you. It’s going for a walk regularly. It’s another one of those deceptively simple strategies that work very well. For quite a few people with mild to moderate anxiety, it tends to get better results than medication. All it takes is a pair of comfortable shoes and as little as 15 minutes of your time.
While walking won’t stop the anxiety causing thoughts and isn’t a complete cure, it will allow you to cope with your anxiety much better. It will bring you relief and keep you from worrying and stressing about it. Walking works in a variety of different ways to help with anxiety. The first is the simple act that you’re moving around. It has an instantly calming effect. I’m sure you’ve noticed that it’s hard to sit still when you’re nervous and anxious. You feel like you have to move around. Take it to the next level by going for a brisk walk.
We’ve talked about breathing exercises earlier. Walking forces you to take slow and steady breaths, making you do a simple, calming breathing exercise while you walk without you noticing it. As an added bonus, the walk will distract you from your negative and worrying thoughts. This is particularly true and helpful if you walk outside in a pretty setting like a park.
Last but not least, exercise including walking releases endorphins that improve your mood and calm you down. They directly counteract the excess adrenaline that causes you to feel anxious and fearful. After a nice walk you’ll feel noticeably calmer and more content. The longer you walk, the better you feel, but even something as simple as a 15 minute stroll through the neighborhood will bring you relief.
There are two ways you can use walking to combat anxiety. The first is as an immediate treatment. Go for a quick walk when you are feeling anxious. The quicker you can catch it and get moving, the better. A short walk can stop the anxiety from getting worse and get you back to feeling your happy, normal self.
Don’t just stop there though. Make it a habit to go for a daily walk. Make it part of your routine. Get that blood moving, and get those endorphins flowing through your system. Not only is it great for your overall health and wellbeing, it will also reduce how often and how severe your anxiety attacks are. Give it a try. Commit to a daily walk and see these benefits for yourself.
Stress Makes It Worse, Trusting Yourself And Your Path, Makes It Better!
“Trust starts with truth, and ends with truth”. – Santosh Kalwar
Like many of us you may have noticed that the frequency and severity of your anxiety episode increases greatly when you’re under a lot of stress. While we can’t eliminate or
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control all stressful situations, there’s a lot to be said for reducing stress. That in turn reduces your overall anxiety, eliminating even more stress. You see where I’m going with this.
When it comes to anxiety and stress, you have two choices. You can allow the two to enforce each other and keep spiraling up to make it worse and worse. Or you can break the vicious cycle by actively working on calming down and distressing. This in turn will start to lower both your level of stress and your level of anxiety.
The good news is that what you do to lower your stress will likely also start to lower your anxiety at the same time. Much of what I’ve shared and will continue to share throughout the rest of the challenge to relieve anxiety, will also do wonders when it comes to reducing your stress. Start with the simple breathing exercises I’ve shared. Going for daily walks will also help with stress.
Of course tackling what’s causing you the stress in the first place is another good strategy. When you notice that you’re feeling more stressed than usual, take a moment to sit down and think about what’s causing it. It’s not always comfortable to dig deep and figure out what’s stressing us out, but once we know, we can start to take a proactive approach towards changing things.
If you are worried about your empathic gifts, talk to me. Now is the perfect time, to embrace every bit of it, so that you can help a world in need.
If your bills piling up is stressing you out, sit down and come up with a plan to pay them down. Start cutting your expenses so there’s more left of your paycheck. Learning to believe in abundance, will take you to such an incredibly abundant life, in all areas. First you must believe, and then receive, not the other way around. It sounds easy, and for some of you there is much learning to be done on this one.
If you are stressed at your current job, then talk to your boss, but also realize that now may be the time to notice what you really want to do with the rest of your life.
If it’s about relationships, then first start working on the relationship with yourself. It’s important that your self esteem is in good shape. If you feel that your partner is causing you stress, you must talk to them about it, and clear the air.
If you are single and you think that a relationship will fix things, you are sadly mistaken. The only one who can fix anything, is YOU. Learning to trust yourself, is number 1. After that, it will become easier to trust your decisions, actions, and motivations for anything that comes your way.
No matter what’s causing you stress, there’s almost always a way to reduce it. Sometimes it’s simply facing your fear and figuring out exactly what’s going on. Removing the element of the unknown alone will help cut down on how stressed you
feel. And sometimes, a lot of this can be around a past life situation that still wants to be healed here.
By cutting back on how stressed you are, using the coping techniques I’m sharing to de-stress, and making small changes like eating healthier and making sure you get enough sleep, you can start to break that vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. You’ll feel better and are ready to tackle life, no matter what it throws at you.
What Is Mental Clutter?
To make sure we’re on the same page, let’s define this mental clutter. It’s all the random stuff in your head that you’re keeping track of. It could be appointments, things you need to do, and that never ending list of projects you want to tackle eventually. We all have mental clutter, and when we let it become too much, it can add to how anxious we feel.
Start by just becoming aware of this clutter of thoughts in your head. Pay attention to when those random thoughts pop in your head. Sometimes it’s in the middle of the day while you’re busy working on something completely unrelated. Oftentimes, they pop up at night when you’re trying to relax or go to sleep. Become aware of them, so you can then start to tackle the next step, which involves dealing with this mental clutter.
Now that you’ve become aware of this mental clutter, it’s time to start reducing and eliminating it. The tools to do this are simple. All you need is a pen and a notebook. You’re going to do a “brain dump”. This is the mental equivalent of dumping the contents of your closet on the floor so you can decide what to keep, what to donate, and what to throw out.
I have found that many of my clients with anxiety, have physical clutter as well as mental clutter. When a person’s mind is anxious, disorganized, full of negative self talk, and low self esteem, the physical space usually becomes very disorganized, and cluttered as well.
The following is an exercise I use with clients to help them, declutter. Start writing down all those random things you want to or feel you should do. Write down everything you need to remember, appointments you need to make or keep.
Write down all the projects you want to tackle and the goals you want to accomplish. Don’t edit, DO NOT judge, just write it all down. Don’t stop until you can’t think of anything else.
I’m going to warn you. It’s mentally exhausting, but also incredibly freeing and one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and stress. Simply writing it all down will get it out of your head and make you feel less mentally cluttered. Optionally you can start going through your long list, crossing out line items that aren’t really important, making appointments and noting them in your calendar, and coming up with a list of projects you want to tackle first. I promise you’ll feel calmer once you do this.
The Huge Benefits Of Meditation To Reduce Anxiety
Meditation is a great tool to help you calm down and get back to thinking clearly when you’re feeling particularly anxious. It can instantly calm down the over excited nervous system and have you feeling more centered and ready to face whatever life throws at you. As helpful as it is in reducing anxiety on demand, it’s even more powerful when it comes to prevention.
There are two components of anxiety that relate to the brain. The first is those random thoughts and worries that keep running through your head, and making you feel anxious. The second part is that as a person that worries and gets anxious a lot, you are using the amygdala, the part of your brain that’s associated with regulating emotions a lot. This particular area of the brain lights up more on scans with people struggling with anxiety. Since you are essentially rewiring your brain to increase activity in this area, you may think yourself into worse and worse anxiety. Thankfully meditation can help with both.
First I want you to realize that this isn’t the only aspect of anxiety. While meditation will greatly benefit you, it may not be a cure all. That being said, meditation is simple to do and something that can be done by anyone. I encourage you to give it a try.
For many of us, listening to a good guided meditation, and simply practicing it daily is enough to see results. Start by reading up on the benefits of meditation and how to do it.
You may want to take a Mindfulness Meditation Class in your area or, these days, online. There are many different ways to start meditating. The easiest ones to get started with are short guided meditations and visualizations. Here are some of mine.
Calming Scents That Mellow You Out
Scents can be a very powerful thing. I’m sure you’ve noticed this yourself. Smelling a particular scent like fresh baked chocolate chip cookies brings back a childhood memory. The scent of coffee in the morning helps you crawl out of bed and wake up. Other scents, like that of a burning fire, may make you feel fearful or afraid. Scents can warn us of danger, help us relax, and certain scents have even been shown to help increase our memory. As I said, scents are a powerful tool. Why not use it to help us mellow out and reduce anxiety when needed.
Let’s look at some calming scents that mellow you out. You can use essential oils and a diffuser, find a scented candle, make some potpourri, or use the fresh or dried ingredients around the house. The most important thing is to find a way to incorporate the scents that you find particularly helpful into your life.
The fragrance of lavender replaces fast brain activity with a slower alpha wave to help reduce anxiety.
Chamomile helps reduce stress and can also help with insomnia & tense muscles.
• Rose Geranium
Along with helping with relaxation by soothing the entire central nervous system it can also help balance hormonal levels.
A great fragrance for anti-anxiety. By increasing the GABA activity within the brain, jasmine can help to regulate feelings of stress and anxiety.
This citrus scent helps to restore the hypothalamus to a state of homeostasis and calmness
Sandalwood has been used to help reduce overall anxiety in terminally ill patients. It has also been noted to help improve quality of sleep.
In addition to these particular scents, look for essential oil blends and scented candles that mention relaxation or calm. They may include one or more of the scents mentioned above in a mix that’s specifically designed to help you relax.
How A Day Planner Can Reduce Stress & Anxiety
There are so many lifestyle changes you can make that have positive effects on your anxiety levels. You’ve learned that making changes to your physical environment, adding a nice walk to your day and even incorporating calming scents into your surroundings can lessen the tension you feel. Taking control of your day and looking ahead to schedule time for meeting your goals is another strategy that can make a huge difference in your life. Read on to learn how a day planner can reduce stress and anxiety. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without this life-altering tool.
First, you should consider the best type of agenda or planner for you. Do you prefer to write things down in a notebook or keep it all in electronic form? Would your lifestyle fit a small, portable calendar you can take with you everywhere or do you respond best to having a large visual reminder like a desk calendar or whiteboard that hangs on the wall? Give it some thought and start with what you think will work best. You can always make tweaks to your system later.
Next, you’ll want to get in the nightly habit of creating a to-do list for the following day. This routine has multiple benefits. It lets you create a “brain dump” by getting a lot of the information that’s floating around in your head out on paper. You’ll likely fall asleep faster with fewer small details cluttering your thoughts. You can look ahead and place some of the tasks in time slots, knowing you’ll be able to complete them when it’s best for you. This exercise also lets you feel confident you haven’t forgotten anything important.
Keeping a day planner adds structure to your life. We all know this is important in reducing anxiety and stress. You can add long-term goals to your agenda, as well. This step lets you feel more in control of the direction in which you’re heading and puts you in the proverbial driver’s seat, rather than feeling like you’re at the mercy of fate.
Along this line of thought, another great way to keep tabs on your time is to write down regular, mundane activities in your calendar ahead of time. Stuff like doing the laundry, preparing meals for the coming week, study time for your or your child, paying bills and exercising can be included on your weekly to-do’s as a way of easily holding yourself accountable. Stuff’s more likely to get done when it already has its own time slot. Finally, don’t neglect adding leisure time to your schedule. Planning ahead for a night out with friends or even just sitting down to read a good book will bring relaxation and fun to your life. You can clearly see the ways a day planner can lessen your stress and anxiety. Enjoy the process and make it one that fits your lifestyle.
Control Anxiety With Regular Exercise
So if you’ve added walking to your anxiety-fighting routine and are now a believer in the power of a brisk walk for lifting your mood. That’s great. If you enjoy the physical movement and its soothing mental effects, you may want to consider adding other types of movement to your life. You know exercise is great for your body and physical health. You’ve seen what just a bit of walking can do. Read on to learn how you can control anxiety with regular exercise, some types of movement that work best and how fitness contributes to better stress management.
Exercise has measurable physical effects on the brain, as well as the body. Feel-good brain chemicals are released when you move your body. These include endorphins and endocannabinoids.
Physical exertion also lowers the amounts of certain immune system chemicals that are known to worsen depression symptoms. Even the increase in your body temperature from exercise can produce calming effects.
There are some awesome emotional benefits that come with moving your body, too. Getting your body going can be a tremendous distraction from your worries, allowing you to concentrate on mindfulness in the present or to simply let your mind wander to more pleasant thoughts. Proving that you have what it takes to accomplish your exercise goals is a real boost to your confidence levels, not to mention what seeing a small, more toned reflection in the mirror can do. Moderate amounts of exercise can also be one of the best coping mechanisms when you’re fighting regular anxiety.
You don’t have to commit to an intensive exercise routine to reap the benefits. Simply setting aside a few days each week for about a half hour can do the trick. Even making easy changes to your daily routine like taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking further from the office can help. Consider adding exercises like running, hiking or yoga to your agenda. These forms allow you to get out into nature, are simple enough to give your mind some downtime and offer benefits like enhanced mental focus.
Whatever you choose, just be sure it’s something enjoyable to you. This will increase your chances of committing to your new routine and motivate you to press on. Assess what has held you back from exercising in the past, and plan strategies to overcome these issues. For example, you may need to find an accountability partner to engage in workouts with you if you get bored easily on your own. Set reasonable goals for yourself if fitness hasn’t been a regular part of your life. Starting small not only increases the odds that you won’t give up, it’s also safer. Always check with your doctor to be sure you’re physically able to take on the type of exercise that interests you.
There are wide arrays of benefits that come along with physical fitness. You now know that reducing anxiety is one that can be most advantageous to you. Get out there and get moving if you want to tame your anxiety levels.
Using Visualization to Calm Down
I hope you’re starting to feel positive about the ways you can take control of your anxiety through some simple life modifications. These changes can reduce the intensity and regularity of your anxious feelings, for sure. Sometimes, though, a burst of nervousness or panic can hit you out of nowhere. There are various relaxation exercises that can help in times like these. One of these is to use the power of visualizing to your advantage. Keep reading to discover just what this strategy is and what’s involved in using visualization to calm down.
The idea of visualization exercises can seem a bit intimidating at first. It involves actively picturing yourself in a place that is soothing and relaxing to you. Essentially putting yourself in different surroundings is a powerful method to trick your mind into believing you are in a safe space that makes you feel happy and at peace. It’s a way to self-soothe or calm yourself when you need it.
Let’s break down the steps involved in an ideal visualization session. The first and most important step is to choose your safe place. It can be a real spot you’ve visited in the past or even somewhere close to you that you encounter regularly. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be somewhere you’ve physically experienced or one that exists in reality. This is an exercise in imagination, after all. If you’re a creative person, you may want to bring a whole new world to life in your mind, an ideal place that would delight all of your senses. Make your visualized space personal in as many ways possible in order to receive the greatest effects. The space you create should be the one you always go to in your mind when you need to calm yourself quickly, so make sure it resonates with you strongly.
When actually putting visualization into practice, you want to find a spot that’s comfortable. Doing so will make it much easier to take your mind where it needs to go. If suddenly finding yourself in a crowd has brought on a bit of a panic attack, seek out a place to retreat like a semi-empty coffee shop or even a locked restroom in a pinch. Make yourself as comfortable as you can before imagining your special space. Then close your eyes and start to think of yourself truly being there. Think about the sights and sounds around you.
Consider why this spot makes you feel good, and embrace those feelings. Surround yourself with as many details as your mind can summon and let yourself embrace each of them. Be mindful of your body’s state at the moment. Feel the tension release from your individual muscles. If anxious thoughts begin to creep in, picture yourself actually removing or destroying them. You can visualize the anxiety as a dark cloud that is banished by a ray of sunlight or some other physical object that you can rid yourself of. Visualization can be a powerful technique for taking control of your anxiety the minute it strikes. With some practice and an open mind, you’ll find yourself in control of your anxious feelings and enjoying this quick mental retreat. Here is the link once again to my meditations and visualizations.
Getting More Sleep Can Help
There can be a number of things that contribute to your anxiety. Frequently, a predisposition to anxiety is encoded in your genes. Medicine and therapy can definitely help and studies show that sleep deprivation plays a negative role in emotional processing.
The ability to manage your emotions in a healthy way is absolutely essential to keeping anxiety at bay. So if too little snoozing is a constant factor in your life, it would seem that getting more sleep can help. Let’s take a look at the ways sleep can affect your body and mood. Then I’ll offer some suggestions to improve your chances of returning to a regular sleep pattern.
The portion of your brain that is responsible for protecting you in times of danger is called the amygdala. It communicates perceived threats to the prefrontal cortex, which then determines whether flight or fight is necessary. These two portions of the brain usually work pretty well together. However, under periods of distress, such as those stimulated by lack of sleep, their signals can get crossed. This causes the emotional centers of the brain to take over, leading to difficulty in concentration, increased irritation, slower reflexes and higher anxiety levels.
You’ve probably heard of REM sleep. During these cycles, the parts of the brain that handle learning are engaged. Three to five REM cycles are average, and science has shown that more is better for improved mood. If you’re not sleeping, you’re definitely not going into these much-needed REM stages. Not only is the amount of sleep you get important. The quality is also essential to strong mental health.
There are some habits you can pick up that can contribute to easier sleep and less insomnia, if these are issues for you. Avoid exercise before bed, as this can stimulate you. Instead, shoot for five or six hours beforehand. Sessions of 20 to 30 minutes of exercise each day can help. Also, the timing of your meals can contribute to a smoother time sleeping. Try not to eat three hours before bed. Spread out your meals and snacks throughout the day to avoid intense hunger pangs or spikes in blood sugar. These habits should help ease you into slumber when bedtime arrives. Caffeine and alcohol can rob you of your rest, so avoid them as much as possible.
Set up your surroundings in a way that is soothing. Make your bedroom your nighttime sanctuary. Play soft music and add a scent like lavender that’s known for its calming properties. Be sure your routine before sleep isn’t stimulating, so lay off the electronics about a half hour ahead of time. Keep your room cool. Make sure the room is dark, and you are comfortably warm enough to feel cozy. If you simply can’t sleep once you lie down, get up and read or drink some herbal tea, such as camomile. Keep crystals Two of my favorite crystals to have close by are Rose Quartz, and Amethyst. I also have a Himalayan Salt Lamp that my son and his partner gave me a couple of Christmases ago. I turn it on a few hours before bed, and it really changes the energy in the room, so that the negative ions release your anxiety and stress . Tossing and turning just leads to more anxiety.
Peaceful slumber is always good for your body, mind and soul. So give these suggestions a try if you’re experiencing high levels of anxiety. Better sleep can definitely help.
Practice An Attitude Of Gratitude
Anxiety can have a number of physical symptoms, and it can wreak havoc on all areas of your life. Much of anxiety’s cause and its intensifiers are in the brain, however. No, I’m not saying it’s all in your head. What I do want you to understand is that your mind plays a powerful role in both the way the condition is created and the manner in which it plays out. Therefore, you can use mental strategies to control and tame this terrible beast. Read on to discover how gratitude fights anxiety.
Studies have shown the benefits of gratitude on the body and the mind. Practicing gratitude can actually decrease physical pain and improve sleep. It can lead to more optimistic thoughts, which influence more positive behaviors. The connection between thoughts and the resulting actions or behaviors is a strong one. In fact, thoughts of gratitude have been proven to stimulate the hypothalamus. This region of the brains controls functions like metabolism, stress and sleep. In addition, being grateful can trigger regions of the brain that produce the feel-good neurochemical, dopamine.
As we just learned, healthy sleep patterns are significant in overcoming anxious patterns and depression. Positive behaviors can lead you to simply feel better about yourself and more productive. When you get more done, you’re likely less anxious about the consequences of not doing so and you worry less. Feeling optimistic and thankful doesn’t leave room for the negative emotions of anxiousness or sadness. Forming a habit of gratitude begins a cycle that changes your perspective, and maybe even your life.
So how can you get started on this journey to being more grateful? Really, there’s no end to the possibilities, but I’m happy to throw out some suggestions to get you started. You’ll find that being grateful is a habit that gets easier with practice. Once you start, you’ll probably notice yourself looking on the bright side and feeling thankful for what you have far more frequently than you did in the past.
One of the easiest ways to feel thankful is to actually thank someone. It can be as simple as a verbal acknowledgement during your day when someone does something for you or you can delve deeper by writing a heartfelt note to a meaningful friend or loved one. Another strategy is to examine your week and take note of at least three things that were wonderful or that went well. It’s human nature to look at the negative. Make a concerted effort to turn that around by recognizing the awesome stuff, too. You’ll see things really may not be as bad as they seem. One last suggestion is to practice random acts of kindness. See who you can help this week and make a note of it. Helping others has a way of showing us just how many good things we possess. When we give, we receive.
Who knew something as simple as being grateful could have such an effect on lessening anxiety? This practice may not come easily right away, but it’s definitely worth the effort to make gratitude a habit if you want to feel less anxious.
Have You Tried Yoga?
You now know that exercise of all kinds has some very positive effects on lowering anxiety. Getting yourself moving and in a different setting can have quite the impact on your brain chemistry, your attitude, your energy and your emotions in general. One focused exercise practice has been shown to be particularly beneficial in the management of anxious symptoms. In one study involving Hatha Yoga, participants said they felt an overall improvement in their quality of life, along with less stress and anxiety, after just ten sessions. That’s a powerful testimony to the benefits of this practice. Have you tried yoga? Take a look at what it can do for your peace of mind. With yoga more than other types of workouts, you’ll learn to focus on your breathing. If you’ve done any reading on anxiety self-management techniques, you know that controlled breath is important. Slow, steady breaths lead to a feeling of calm because they slow down your nervous system. Correct breathing techniques are a part of yoga practice that can benefit you to learn, as they will serve you well when you’re dealing with the rough and shallow breaths caused by anxiety.
Not only is the breathing involved in yoga slow and controlled, so are the movements. Postures and poses in this form of mindful exercise are done in ways that allow you to focus on each segment of your body. This attention promotes relaxation and eases the tension that builds up from anxiousness or stress. Combining these motions with the attentive breathing gives you maximum benefit and creates a cycle of wellness in which your newly relaxed body encourages more positive thinking.
Performing yoga is a form of self-care, which is something those of us with anxious souls so often neglect. Activities in which we care for ourselves like getting pedicures, eating well, visiting with friends or an exercise like yoga involve setting aside time to treat ourselves well. This time replenishes us, rather than taking away from our wellbeing the way so many of our daily obligations can do.
Rumination is a practice in which thoughts, usually negative, play in your mind over and over. You probably already know how difficult it can be to break these nasty thought cycles. Fortunately, yoga has a way of doing just that rather easily. When you’re focused on your breathing and body movement, your mind tends to be in the here and now. The ruminating stops and you become mindful of the way your body feels, the sounds in the room and the manner of your breath. It’s quite calming.
These are just some of the many benefits of yoga for lowering anxiety and stress. Start a yoga practice of your own, with the consent of your doctor, and you’ll see for yourself how yoga can help.
We just discussed yoga as a form of self-care and exercise. It combines a number of strategies that help to curb the toxic effects of anxiety. If yoga doesn’t seem like your thing, that’s okay. There are plenty of self-care methods that you can take up instead. The important thing is that you mindfully set aside time that’s dedicated only for yourself. This time is to be spent doing something you enjoy, not on completing a task or other duty in your life. This is important because your choice of self-care must actively interrupt the fight or flight cycle your mind is going through when feeling anxious if you hope to get past the anxiety. Let’s take a closer look at this process and what taking time for yourself does to short circuit it.
Whether what’s causing your anxiety is a real threat or merely a perceived one, your mind and body will react in the same way. So even if you’re experiencing a mini panic attack that has no logical cause, the symptoms will still be felt. The response to threat sets off a cycle in the amygdala of your brain, which then goes onto the hypothalamus. These signals set off a chain reaction of various hormones to be released. Cortisol and adrenaline are the main hormones involved in the stress process. Individual symptoms will vary, but some of these are:
● Tunnel vision
● Racing heartbeat
● Dry mouth
● Dilated pupils
● Flushed face
● Slowed digestion
All of these feelings add up to what is known as anxiety, which can lead to a host of negative associations. The cycle that starts in your brain must be interrupted in order to overcome these crippling symptoms.
That’s where self-care comes in. By proactively taking time to engage in something to take your mind off of the anxiety, you’ll be purposefully shutting down the fight or flight response of your brain. Acts of self-care often involve your overall health. Things like eating well, exercising regularly and indulging in beauty rituals often come to mind when we think of the concept. However, self-care can be practically anything you enjoy that leads you to feel relaxed.
The key to choosing an effective method of self-care is that you deliberately are involving yourself in a fun activity that isn’t likely to lead to stress. Choose a much-loved hobby, a regular social night with good friends, an appointment to get your hair done, a shopping trip or even just some quiet time to read a book. You’ll be amazed at the difference doing nice things for yourself makes in your anxiety levels and your mindset.
Spiritual Practice And Anxiety
When you’re anxious for a long period of time, it can be difficult to focus on anything positive. Just getting through the day can be a monumental task at times. So the thought of investing yourself in ways to overcome your anxiety seems downright impossible. However, as we’ve already seen, taking proactive steps to engage your mind in other things is often exactly what helps to move past anxious thoughts.
A focus on or belief in a spiritual way of life is one very effective tool for improving your mood. When you find your spirituality, whether it’s a religious or spiritual non religious practice, you begin to see things differently and to invest your energies in things that are important to you. Let me show you how it can work.
First of all, know that you don’t have to belong to one specific religion or to attend worship services in a fixed location with other people. A solitary spiritual practice can be just as effective in helping to manage your stress as formal worship with a group. One of the primary ways that spirituality helps to lessen anxiety is that it places emphasis on something other than yourself. When you’re preoccupied with your own stuff, you can get stuck in a holding pattern that only intensifies your anxious feelings. Spiritual practice allows you to dedicate your thoughts and actions toward something more, your fellow man or practice-related philanthropies. Any steps to put your energy out into the world is a beneficial one toward overcoming the cycle of negative thinking anxiety can cause.
The concept of faith is one that lends itself well to overcoming distress. Part of the reason anxiousness takes hold of people so strongly is that such thoughts become ingrained in the mind. When you’re focused on anxious thinking, you tend to not believe that things will improve. In my world, and in my practice with clients, the first and most important thing to do is to believe you can eliminate or at the very least, decrease your anxiety.
Most forms of spirituality are actually based on belief, the belief or faith that there is something greater determining life’s outcome. This type of faith can be one of the most powerful tools in overcoming a negative hold like anxiety. Therefore, taking up a spiritual practice just might make more sense in your pursuit to deal with anxiety than you ever could have imagined.
Get Social And Smile
When you’re feeling overwhelmed with anxiety or stress, it can be tempting to believe that you need to step away from the world and take some alone time. Logically, that makes sense. When it feels like the world is closing in on you, the thought of retreating somewhere alone to recharge is appealing.
Sometimes, this can even be a good idea, as long as you don’t fall into the trap of allowing yourself to become socially isolated more often than not. Unfortunately, that tends to happen when your “alone time” becomes an escape. Keep reading below to learn about the ways social isolation can worsen anxiety. It may seem odd, but it’s true that if you get social, you will be likely to smile more.
The desire to be alone and anxious feelings are very closely intertwined. They exist in a cycle that can be pretty tough to break. You may not know which came first, and it really doesn’t even matter. Isolation can create feelings of anxiety, leading you to want to be alone more frequently. Or your anxious emotions may lead you to retreat.
Humans are incredibly social creatures by nature. Even those of us who are introverts crave interaction with others sometimes. If you’re feeling all alone or not connected to a support network, you might notice more physical health issues, as well as increased levels of anxiety and sadness.
Connecting and socializing with others can immediately lift your mood. It goes back to those brain chemicals and hormones. The feel-good kind increases when you’re around people in a positive setting. The concept of focusing outside yourself also comes into play here. Socializing and hanging out with your friends or loved ones gives you a distraction. You can place your energies on connecting with these important people, listening to their stories and receiving their attention or love.
I remember the days, when I was absolutely riddled with anxiety at even the thought of having to interact with more than one person at a time. When I stopped going to events, I learned that my anxiety would get even more difficult, partly because as you know, empaths feel everything. If I were to go into a restaurant before I knew how to deal with knowing everyone’s life story, without speaking with them, it could be very overwhelming. Some of you probably see pictures, or movies, of their lives. Others of you even see past lives. You see and feel their trauma, and their low self esteem. You also feel and see the things that are good about their lives.
A good friend once challenged me. I went to a restaurant, and feel. All of it, and to let the emotions of others, run off me. It was a truly amazing experience. When I got to the restaurant, I sat alone of course, in the middle of the restaurant at a table for four. Intimidating? You guessed it. I started looking around, and “saw” that a guy was about to break up with his girlfriend. And yes, it happened about a half hour into the dinner they were enjoying. I saw a family and the pictures that went through my head were like torture. Here they were smiling, and being happy. Not because things were perfect, but because they were working their way into the new normal they found themselves in. There were many other stories that I felt into that day. But on that day, something very deeply shifted inside of me. I no longer needed the anxiety to keep me from something as beautiful as that evening turned out to be. I was able to feel into people’s lives, and not make it my own.
There are tons of ideas around protecting your energy before you leave the house that will help you. I think I have talked about some of this before.
The best thing you can do is give yourself a time limit of how long you will spend being social. Say an hour. Then if it still feels ok, stay some more. You are not required to stay longer than you want to.
And by the way, a smile takes less muscles than a frown does. Try the following exercise.
You may have heard about the exercise where a therapist says to think of something sad. . Notice what happens to your body.
Your shoulders round, your eyes look down, and your breathing becomes shallow, you walk slower and so on.
Then think of something happy. Your shoulders will square, your lips will lift into a smile, your eyes will shine, and there will be a spring in your step.
It’s a good reminder of how much energy each of these takes.
Give it a try next time you’re feeling too wiped out to be around people. Nudge yourself to go to that party, anyway. You’ll probably be having a great time and smiling soon after you walk through the door.
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