It feels as though the air is charged with massive waves of anxiety these days. From the political upheaval to the holidays, as well as the normal day-to-day stressors, people seem to be in a state of angst. Nerves are frayed, and it is having a significant impact on people’s lives. Forty million adults in the United States age 18 and older, suffer from some form of anxiety according to the National Institute of Mental Health. If you feel some nervousness creeping up on you, here are five ways to calm yourself and find some peace from the panic.
- Mindful breathing. Breathing can help quiet the mind in moments of stress. It may sound too crunchy for you, like telling someone to count to ten when they are angry, but science has shown deep breathing can help lower stress. There are plenty of resources online to guide you through breathing techniques. The simplified version, especially useful when you are on the go and things feel overwhelming, is this: Close your eyes and inhale deeply through your nose. Hold the breath for a few seconds. Release it slowly through your mouth. Start with three and then take as many additional breaths as you need. Only you will know what is right in that moment.
- Organize something. Clutter or things being out of place can make you feel out of control. By organizing something small, you can feel in control of your situation, which automatically makes people feel better. Sometimes anxiety comes from feeling helpless. This simple shift gives you back some semblance of power and a nice win, both being mood boosters.
- Take a break from your phone. Our phones have become the gateway drugs of the modern age. It is no longer just an instrument to make a call or text; it invites wanted and unwanted ideas into your space. You are always reachable which makes it hard to turn off, wind down, and have some uninterrupted ‘me’ time. Designate a regular shutdown session, maybe after work or in the evening, to turn off your phone or put it out of sight. You’ll be amazed what a relief it is not to have emails, texts, and social media alerts coming at you from all sides. Your mind needs a break from the constant onslaught of messages to relax and decompress. And don’t worry; everything will be waiting for you the next time you pick it up!
- Exercise. Yes, this tried and true bad mood buster can help decrease anxiety and depression. The physical activity releases endorphins, which make you feel happy and the rise in body temperature can be soothing. Not to mention, the focus on the exercise itself can take your mind off your problems and distract you from the negative thoughts that have taken over your inner dialogue. The break is good for your mind and your body.
- Start a gratitude journal. Each day, write down three things you are grateful for in your life. Make it a daily ritual when you wake up or before bed. Focusing on what is going right instead of what is going wrong will help retrain your brain to find the positives. They are there if you look, though some days may feel harder than others. It can be as simple enjoying the perfect cup of coffee to the appreciation you feel about a big life milestone; it is all about savoring the good. When you are especially anxiety-ridden, flip through the journal to remind yourself of all the happy moments you have experienced and will again. It can be a powerful touchstone when you need to know there is hope.
Life can be overwhelming sometimes, but you don’t have to let it get the best of you. Try some of these techniques to discover a solution that helps you stop anxiety in its tracks. Your well-being is worth the effort.