Happy Thursday guys! I hope this finds you safe and healthy! Anxiety is something that affects so many of us, whether ongoing or situational, and can honestly be crippling at times. While it’s definitely something that takes time, and sometimes requires therapy and/or medication to fully address, there are some things you can do that along with an ongoing focus on your mental health & wellbeing can definitely help combat and reduce stress & anxiety.
Since most of us are experiencing at least a bit more anxious feelings than normal during this time of change and uncertainty I wanted to share some of those things that help to rebalance they mind & body while relieving some of the anxious feelings and replacing them with peaceful ones. I hope you find them helpful; I’d love to know if you do and if you have any other suggestions I should try/inlcude!
Isn’t it funny how we sometimes forget to breathe and don’t even realize it?? Obviously we need to breathe to live, but did you know deep breathing and the extra oxygen you get from deep breathing has quite the list of benefits? It increases energy, relieves pain, combats stress & anxiety by triggering the release of endorphins, aids digestion, and boosts your immune system because fully oxygenated blood carries & absorbs nutrients more efficiently. Just a few minutes of breathing in deeply through your nose for 5 seconds, holding for a few seconds, and releasing through your mouth for 5 seconds can make a difference, especially if you’re feeling anxious!
2) Take CBD
You can check out this blog post I recently did for more information and questions answered on CBD and how it works, but essentially it supports our endocannabinoid system which regulates our body’s overall balance and restores calm when anxiety is triggering physical responses. Aka, it can really help when you’re feeling anxious. Personally, I find it greatly eases the physical feelings of stress or anxiety, like unease in my gut and tenseness.
As I Christian, I believe I’m called to tell God my worries and leave them with Him trusting He has a plan based in His unconditional love for me, and practicing this helps a lot. It doesn’t mean I don’t take back what I was worried about over and over and over and start worrying about it again, but it does mean I at least am not carrying it when I do leave it in His hands. Even for those of you who aren’t faith based or religious, worrying doesn’t do us any good, it just builds into overall anxiety about things most likely out of our control and keeps us from positive thought patterns and actions. I truly believe taking some time to sit still, be quiet, and release your worries can be a really helpful and centering practice!
4) Take a Walk
I know not all of can do this right now, but if you can I 1000% recommend! Just getting out of whatever environment you were feeling the anxiety in will help so much, but getting fresh air on top of that will literally work wonders. Exercise also causes your body to release mood-boosting chemicals like dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin.
5) Phone a Friend
Another amazing way to get out of your head and feelings. I get some of these points are just to distract, but sometimes distraction is the best cure for anxiety, especially since it gives our body a chance to regulate. Talking to someone else will get your focus off of yourself, your situation your problems, and onto someone or something else. Sometimes that’s all we need. But on top of that, your friend might be able to speak truth and reason into your feelings/worries, which sometimes when anxiety is involved, are irrational. Anxiety causes us to jump to the worst possible conclusions, when they’re really not likely to happen.
Another benefit? You might actually get to help them with something they’re struggling with, and not to take the selflessness out of helping others, but it is scientifically proven to reduce blood pressure and increase your happiness & satisfaction. You might feel so much better after helping your friend it was enough to completely dissipate the anxiety you were experiencing!
6) Take a Shower or Bath
I get this is not always an option, but it’s definitely more so while we’re all spending so much time at home! While a bubble bath is considered ‘me-time’ or ‘self-care’ because it’s enjoyable and often paired with much needed quiet, wine, and time vegging out on a favorite book or show, there’s once again a scientific reasons why this helps with anxiety! Raising your body temperature is an effective way to combat stress & anxiety because it relaxes the muscles and raises your mood… heating the skin activates serotonin nuclei so the body regulates and cools down, which has an antidepressant effect. So cool, right!?
7) Put on Calming Music
Music Therapy exists for a reason, it can have powerful healing and calming affects! While music therapy includes many types of interacting with and making music in addition to listening, listening can still have significant relaxing effects on our minds and bodies. Just having it on in the background while working or getting ready can keep you feeling less anxious and improve your mood! Some calming/upliftng music I’m loving lately: Bethel Music, Audrey Assad, Jack Johnson, Priscilla Ahn, and various Classical pieces…
A few suggestions for classical pieces, opt for ones in Major when possible!:
Bach – Piano Preludes & Fugues, Ave Maira, Cello Sonatas
Debussy – Preludes, Clare de Lune, Reverie
Chopin – Nocturnes, Waltzes, Ballades, Barcarole
Brahms – Nanie, his Intermezzo and other solo piano works
Satie – most of his music, especially Gymnopedie
Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake
As silly as it may seem, taking a few minutes to enjoy something funny here or there throughout the day, especially if you’re feeling anxious, can really help! Laughing can not only increase your oxygen intake to a similar extent to deep breathing while lowering blood pressure, it also releases beta-endorphins which help lower hormones that prevent us from feeling calm and relaxed, like adrenaline, cortisol & epinephrine. The effects are both short-term and can build up over the long term. So whether you have enough time to watch an episode of your favorite funny show or just a few minutes to scroll through your favorite meme page on Instagram, give yourself a break to laugh!
9) Do Something Artistic
Similar to music, art can also have therapeutic effects on our minds and bodies! Taking the time to draw, paint, heck even do your makeup helps take your mind off of what you’re anxious about and forces it to fully engage on something positive, which allows your nervous system to regulate itself. It also helps your brain release dopamine and lower cortisol levels!
10) Limit Stimulants like Caffiene
One thing I’ve changed since all of the Corona craziness and home time is my caffeine intake. I’m able to get enough sleep and don’t have a packed schedule, so there really is no need for me to consume a lot of caffeine to begin with. But on top of that, caffeine is a stimulant, so it can increase the intensity of stress & anxiety. It can also cause you to not sleep well, and enough quality sleep is huge for your overall mood and wellbeing. I totally get that some food/beverages and habits have more meaning to them than just what they are at face value. My morning cup of coffee is more than just caffeine, it’s a ritual I love to start my day with. What I’ve done so I can ‘have my cake and eat it too’ is mix regular and decaf coffee, so I’m consuming half the caffeine, but still getting a bit of a wake-up and keeping my beloved start to the day.