Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The Most Effective Ways to Reduce Anxiety

The Most Effective Ways to Reduce Anxiety

I think this is a timely post, at least in my life anyway! My daughter is on week 3 of virtual schooling (the honeymoon is over), we are working on potty training our youngest (oh my goodness), and my husband is traveling for work the next 2 weeks. And my stress reliever, the gym, still doesn't have childcare so I can't go. Yikes! To say I am feeling anxious and stressed is an understatement. Have you ever heard the saying  “we live in anxious times”? It's particularly true now. Add any additional stressor to our lives and it all goes overboard! From coronavirus to climate change to global politics, it seems like there’s also one news story or another that’ll have you seriously concerned about the state of the world. While there are things we can do that’ll help to push the world in the right direction (don’t forget: everyone has power), it’s true that even if you are doing your part, you’ll likely feel overwhelmed from time to time. 

Fortunately, it’s not as if you have to just accept that you’re going to be anxious. There are things you can do that’ll help to keep your anxiety levels at a manageable level. Here are some effective ideas to help you! 

Try to fit in a workout

One of the most effective ways to get rid of any anxiety or stress you feel is to sweat it out. There are plenty of benefits to working out, including, of course, improving your health and your appearance. But for many people, the real power is the mental health benefits that working out can bring. Even a twenty-minute run will help you to calm down. Think of your anxiety as a ball of energy that’s released through working out. I've been waking up early to lift and do a spin class on youtube. Sure it's an hour less sleep, but it still helps me overall! 

Limit the Toxins

It can be relaxing to have a beer or glass of wine with friends, sure, but if you’re overdoing it, then you might be making your anxiety worse. In fact, when my husband is traveling I try to limit my glass of wine each night to once a week! Alcohol can trigger anxiety without you fully realizing it. If you have an apple watch (or other device that monitors your heart rate), then just take a look at your BPM rate the day after you’ve had more than a few drinks. Coffee can also increase anxiety. And of course, a spike in anxiety is just one of the many negative side effects of smoking cigarettes (by the way: there are no positive side effects!). 

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Into Nature

The way we live is normal to us. But it would seem exceptionally odd to our ancestors. They spent much more time outdoors than we do. Indeed, many of us spend no time whatsoever in nature. We’re in the office, or the car, or sitting at home. If you live in a city, then you might have to take a few additional steps to reach natural land, but it’d be well worth doing so. Studies have shown that spending two hours in nature each week (either all at once or spread over multiple days) can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. It’s a free, entirely uncomplicated way to feel better. Give it a try! Even just playing outside in the yard with your children can help reduce anxiety. 

Feed Your Body 

You are what you eat. If you feed good things into your body, then you’ll feel better. We’re not just talking about food. For example, there are fragrances that help to calm us down, such as lavender. I always try to put uplifting and calming fragrances in my diffuser when I'm feeling stressed or anxious and it really does help. CBD oils have also been shown to reduce anxiety, so take a look at the products available from Penguin CBD. I like to take CBD before bed to help me fall asleep. For foods, take a look at adding fatty fish, eggs, chamomile, brazil nuts, and dark chocolate to your diet.

Tech-Free Evenings

Unless you’ve gone to great lengths to avoid technology, then chances are, you have a smartphone, laptop, and other devices. It's pretty easy to become addicted to these things! While it’s very convenient to have a smartphone, it’s important to be aware of the negative impacts that they can bring, especially when related to your anxiety. Too much screen time has been linked to an increase in anxiety. Why? The flashing images and bright lights definitely don't help to calm your mood. It causes your brain to stay in a state of alertness, which can bring on anxiety. Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter have also been shown to have a negative impact on mental well-being

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Meditation and Yoga

Meditation and yoga can bring many benefits to a person’s life. Yoga can help to calm your body down (as well as helping you to become more flexible). Meditation brings you into the present moment. If you did both of these things on a regular basis, then you’ll find that you’re a much less anxious person. To get started with yoga, join a class, either online or in-person. For meditation, all you need is 5 - 10 minutes each day. People think that it’s a complicated thing to begin, but that is really not true! 

Put Things in Perspective

Finally, sometimes it’s a good idea to simply take a step back, and to put things in perspective. If you’re experiencing general anxiety about the state of the world and so on, this method can be effective. We tend to think that the dominating news stories tell the story of the world, but they don’t -- they’re a small part of a larger narrative. Think about your friends, your family, your community. Do they represent what the news is telling you? It can also be beneficial to simply count your blessings. I really try to do this at least once a day. If you have good people in your life, a home, a job, and your health, then you’re in a deeply fortunate position and sometimes just the reminder of that can help put it all into perspective and calm your mood. 

It’ll be of no surprise to anyone that anxiety is on the rise. These are crazy times that we’re living in! But remember that no matter how bad things get, or how bad your anxiety gets, that there are things you can do that’ll help to keep things at a manageable level. 

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