11 Anxiety Busting Tactics to Keep You Calm and Focussed
02 May 2016
I know just how overwhelming things can get sometimes. That feeling when everything starts becoming too much to handle, and you want to run away from it all. I think we all feel this way at one point or another. Life can be very challenging at times, but the best way to overcome difficult times is to face them head on. Being healthy is holistic remember, so managing stress and anxiety is just as important for your wellbeing as good nutrition, sleep and exercise – after all, each of these dynamics affect one another, so its important to always look at the bigger picture.
What is anxiety?
Technically, anxiety is apprehension over an upcoming event. We anticipate the future with sometimes scary predictions that don’t necessarily have any basis in truth. In everyday life, anxiety’s physical and emotional symptoms can mean an increased heart rate, poor concentration at work and school, sleeping problems, and moodiness towards family, friends, and co-workers.
Anxiety and stress are physical and emotional responses to perceived dangers (that aren’t always real). It’s often the little things that put us over the edge: an over-loaded email inbox, morning rush hour, or losing those keys before running out the door. Luckily, it’s easy to beat this kind of stress with just a few simple changes added throughout the day.
Note: If you feel like you might be dealing with a serious anxiety disorder, please talk to a medical professional about treatment. There are lots of options available to manage your symptoms. But if you’re looking to reduce daily anxiety, these 15 tips will get you on your way to being calm and collected in no time.
When things begin to feel a bit too much, I have found the following techniques to be extremely helpful for confronting and managing tough situations/events. I hope these help you too.
1. Get enough sleep
Inconsistent sleep can have some serious consequences. Not only does it affect our physical health, but lack of sleep can also contribute to overall anxiety and stress. And sometimes it turns into a vicious cycle, since anxiety often leads to disruptions in sleep. Especially when feeling anxious, try to schedule a full seven to nine hours of snooze time and see what a few nights of good quality sleep can do for those anxiety levels throughout the day.
2. De-clutter the brain
Physical clutter = mental clutter. A messy workspace can make it more difficult to relax and make it seem like our work is never-ending. So take 15 minutes or so to tidy up the living space or work area, and then make a habit of keeping things clean and anxiety-free. It’ll help us think rationally, and there won’t be as much room for anxiety.
3. Express gratitude
Expressing gratitude can help reduce anxiety, especially when we’re well-rested. Start a gratitude journal to get in the mindset of appreciation, and out of the mindset of being overwhelmed.
4. Eat right
Anxiety can throw our bodies totally out of whack: Our appetite might change, or we might crave certain foods. But to give the body the support it needs, try eating more of foods that contain nutrients such as vitamin B and omega-3s, plus some healthy whole-grains. Studies have linked vitamin B with good mental health, and omega-3s can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Whole-grains help regulate levels of serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter that helps us remain calm. And even though our cravings might be telling us otherwise, eating sugary and processed foods can increase symptoms of anxiety
5. Learn to breathe
A useful tool to prevent panic attacks, the breath is also a great marker of where your anxiety level is at throughout the day. Short, shallow breaths signify stress and anxiety in the brain and body. On the flip side, consciously breathing, plus lengthening and strengthening the breath helps send signal to the brain that it’s okay to relax.
By now most of us have heard that meditation is relaxing, but what scientists are also discovering is that meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in the brain, essentially rewiring the body to stress less. A number of recent studies highlight the positive effects of meditation on anxiety, mood, and stress symptoms. Meditation is also a way to observe the brain, letting us figure out how our mind generates anxiety-provoking thoughts. And understanding the brain’s thought patterns can help create distance from those thoughts.
7. Play around
Kids and animals seem to have an innate ability to play, without stressing about their overflowing inboxes. Until business offices give us recess breaks, we’ll have to take responsibility for our own playtime. Offer to take a friend’s dog out for a walk, or babysit for an afternoon to get out of your head and let the careless creatures lead by example.
8. Be silent
Plan for a time when you can completely disconnect. Start with increments of time that seem sustainable and doable for you, even if it’s just five minutes. That means phone off, no emails, no TV, no news, nothing. Let other people know they won’t be able to reach you so you can enjoy this period of worry-free time. There’s some evidence that too much noise can boost our stress levels, so schedule some sacred silent time among all the hustle and bustle of daily life.
9. Plan ahead
Fight anxious thoughts in advance by preparing for the day ahead. Try making a schedule or a to-do list and develop habits that increase productivity. So instead of spending 10 extra minutes every morning frantically looking for those keys, make a habit of always putting them in the same place when you come home. Lay out clothes the night before, pack a gym bag and leave it by the door, or make lunch ahead of time. Focus on how to “un-think” the anxiety-producing beliefs by prepping before they pop up.
When confronted with anxious thoughts, take a moment to visualize yourself handling the situation with calm, ease, and clarity. Try not to pay attention to the current mental state; just focus on the feeling of smooth-sailing through the storm. The technique is called “guided imagery” or “guided visualization” and can help reduce feelings of stress.
11. Hang out
People who have lots of social support tend to react less negatively to stress than those who fly solo. That’s probably because socializing stimulates the production of the hormone oxytocin, which has an anxiety-reducing effect. So the next time a freak-out appears on the horizon, grab some pals and go for a walk or just have a quick chat.
Yours in Health Always,