10 Ways to Majorly Reduce Anxiety in a Very, Very Stressful World
Let's get real: life can be pretty stressful. Like, really stressful. Luckily, experts at YourTango have uncovered some great tips so you can cut down on all that anxiety and live a more balanced, healthy, and relaxing lifestyle. Here's what they found.
Instant calm and happiness.
Here are 10 ways:
1. Breathe deeply.
Take a 5-10-minute break a few times a day to focus on breathing. Slowly inhale feel the breath go into your lungs and expanding your ribcage.
Then, hold for a second and slowly breath out, exhaling through your mouth (notice the air will be warmer as you exhale). Count to 4 as you inhale hold for 4, then count to 6 as you exhale, hold for 4 then repeat 5 times.
This will automatically calm your nervous system and relax your mind and body.
2. Be present.
The trend about mindfulness is actually a helpful practice. All it means is to focus on what is happening in the moment.
When you're outside, notice the sun and air on your face. Notice how your feet feel on the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food. Become aware of your senses.
What you see, hear, feel, smell, taste, and experience in this particular moment. Doing this engages your cognitive mind meaning any emotions will take a back seat and that can be relaxing and help focus on the task at hand.
There are many ways to meditate and it does not have to be just sitting quietly. For some, this works beautifully; for others, this is very difficult.
There is a walking meditation, a dancing/moving to music meditation, a focus on a word like peace or calm, or a focus on a place like a beach, waterfall, or forest. There are many ways to focus the mind and still your thoughts.
Research shows that this grows areas in the brain that regulate emotions and calm the body.
Just 5 minutes of stretching a day can help de-stress the body and clear the mind. Most of us have jobs with repetitive movements or sitting in a chair all day. This stresses the body to hold a movement or posture.
So, get up walk around and stretch your legs, arms, and spine in a way that is safe for your body's capabilities in order to relax tight muscles. Add some breathing with it and you are getting oxygen to the muscles. This is can increase productivity and concentration.
This is easy to say, yet challenging, especially with full-time work, family, and self-care. If you are moving the body, it counts.
Walks, gym, yoga, dancing, it doesn't matter where you start, just start and do what you can, when you can. Be easy on yourself on days you miss; there is always tomorrow.
6. Listen to music.
Music is so beneficial to the mind and body so remember this as a resource.
For people who wake up depressed or stressed, I recommend waking up to an alarm with their favorite music; it can set the tone for an upbeat day. Calming music is great for anxiety.
There is something for everyone that can get you out of a mood or put you into a mood quickly and easily. Music is also one of the quickest ways into our emotional brain, it grabs attention away from a stuck emotion or physical discomfort. So if you're stressed out, turn on some tunes and chill.
7. Connect with others.
I mean really connect, other than Facebook or texting. Talking on the phone is more soothing to the brain than typing on a phone. Hearing a loved one's voice activates the care-connect pathways in the brain which are opposite of grief and anxiety.
In person is even better, so call a friend ask them to meet you for a walk, movie, or a meal, this is healing on so many levels so make it a habit.
8. Laugh a lot.
Laughing is the best medicine, it really is. There are so many studies spouting the positive healing effects of laughter on the brain.
I have my anxious clients save their funniest videos as favorites on their pads, phones, and computers and when they're stressed, they take a minute to watch something funny and laugh.
It releases tension you didn't even know was there.
9. Indulge in self-care.
This means eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and taking care of all your physical, emotional, intellectual, social, and spiritual needs, regularly.
Track this on your calendar or phone so this becomes a habit. Make sure there is "me" time in your life. This includes saying "no" to what you would resent later and saying "yes" to what you would be glad you did later.
10. Be grateful.
This is also something that studies have shown can change the brain to be more positive and happier.
I saw a study at a neuroscience presentation where they had volunteers write up a note to a person who had made a positive impact on their life. Then they called them on the phone and read their statements to the person on the phone.
Their scores on depression rating scales when down significantly. The more depressed someone was, the higher their scores went up after the call.
So keep a gratitude journal to remind you of the amazing things in your life even the simple ones count.
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