It’s rare that any of us will get through life without experiencing anxiety at some point. But sadly, some people deal with anxiety on a daily basis. Whether it’s over something big or insignificant, anxiety prevents us from living a fulfilling life filled with joy and serenity.
5 ways to reduce anxiety right now
1. Recognize You Are in control
When you are in the grips of anxiety, it can feel very much like it has total control over you. However, the reality is, you are in control. When external events trigger our emotions, ultimately, we have the choice whether we feel those emotions or not.
So, the good news is you don’t have to suffer with anxiety, you simply have to decide to show it who’s really in charge. Make the choice to be in control of your anxiety, not the other way around. Remember: It’s not what happens to us, it’s how we view what happens to us!
2. Diaphragmatic Breathing
This physical strategy is very helpful to relax in stressful situations. While breathing deeply, focus on breathing into your stomach while keeping your shoulders down and relaxed. As opposed to expanding your chest, focus on your abdomen expanding while breathing. It may feel somewhat awkward at first, but with regular mindful practice, it can become quite natural. And extremely beneficial!
3. Get Moving
Exercise is a great way to alleviate the muscle tension that goes along with chronic anxiety. Plus, exercise releases serotonin, a naturally occurring chemical in our brains that contributes to happiness and well-being. You don’t have to do a grueling workout at the gym to gain these benefits. Just a half hour a day of walking, biking, swimming or yoga can significantly help reduce your anxiety. If you can’t seem to find the energy, try stretching. While not quite as effective as getting the heart rate up, stretching promotes deep breathing which in turn promotes relaxation. Plus, it’s great for your muscles!
4. Keep a Gratitude Log
More and more evidence recently points to the benefits of gratitude. Get into the habit of writing down 3 things you’re grateful for each morning while you wait for the coffee to brew. This is a simple way to train your mind to focus on all of the good that surrounds you. For example, it can be as simple as, “I’m grateful for my wife. I’m grateful for my home. I’m grateful for my health.”
The real work begins by week 2 or 3 when you have to really start to think hard. Sadly, this is when most people give up, but if you can push through it and stick with it, change is not far. This is how we begin to formulate new (and improved) thought patterns. This potentially life-changing habit also sets the tone for your thinking for the day.
If you want to take it a step further, at the end of the night write down 3 things that went well during the day. It can be something as simple as, “I quickly found a parking spot when I was running late to the doctor.”
As a therapist, I have witnessed profound and meaningful change in people’s lives by simply implementing these two daily habits.
5. Speak With a Professional
The best approach in addressing any physical or psychological issue is to get to the root cause of it, not simply manage the symptoms. A well-trained therapist can help you increase your self-awareness and insight to discover what’s triggering your anxiety and also offer additional coping tools and strategies.
James Killian, LPC is a therapist for anxiety and the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Woodbridge, CT. If you or a loved one are interested in exploring treatment for anxiety, please contact us today for a free consultation. Life is too short to suffer needlessly.