How do you know that you are suffering from anxiety? People manifest fear and anxiety in different ways such as sweating on the palms when confronted with an overwhelming event or task. Indeed, most of us have probably felt anxious at some point and find it challenging to overcome this. If you’ve found yourself in such scenarios in the past, know that you’re not alone. The primary tip to overcome anxiety is to identify what triggers it and take some time to self-reflect. You can then use the following proven strategies to help deal with anxiety.
- Take A Deep Breath
- Steer Away Negative Thoughts
- Go On A 15 Minutes’ Walk Or Yoga Session
- Aromatherapy Can Be A Great Reliever Of Anxiety
- Jot Down Your Anxiety Triggers
- Eat A Healthy Diet
- Reduce Caffeine And Alcohol
- Do Regular Exercise
1. Take a Deep Breath to Reduce Anxiety
Practicing focused deep breathing can help you a lot when faced with a challenging situation. Take 4 deep breaths lasting about 5 minutes. This reduces your heart rate thus helping deal with anxiety in the moment.
Here are nine different breathing exercises to try-
Alternate-nostril breathing (nadi shodhana) involves blocking off one nostril at a time as you breathe through the other. Get in a seated position that allows you to maintain good posture and alternate between nostrils in a regular pattern.
- On your right hand- bend your pointer and middle fingers into your palm, leaving your thumb, ring finger, and pinky extended. This is known as Vishnu mudra in yoga.
- Close your eyes or softly gaze downward.
- Inhale and exhale to begin.
- Close off your right nostril with your thumb.
- Inhale through your left nostril.
- Close off your left nostril with your ring finger.
- Open and exhale through your right nostril.
- Inhale through your right nostril.
- Close off your right nostril with your thumb.
- Open and exhale through your left nostril.
- Inhale through your left nostril.
Do your best to work up to 10 rounds of this breathing pattern. If you begin to feel lightheaded, take a break. Breathe normally during the break.
The American Institute of Stress states that 20 to 30 minutes of belly breathing each day will reduce stress and anxiety. First, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit or lie down. Try sitting in a chair, sitting cross-legged, or lying on your back with a small pillow under your head and another under your knees.
- Place one hand on your upper chest and the other hand on your belly, below the ribcage.
- Allow your belly to relax, without forcing it inward by squeezing or clenching your muscles.
- Breathe in slowly through your nose. You should feel your stomach rise and fall inward (toward your spine).
- Exhale slowly through slightly pursed lips. The hand on your chest should remain relatively still.
Most people begin by doing the exercise three times and working up to five to 10 minutes, one to four times a day.
Box breathing is very simple to learn and practice. In fact, if you’ve ever noticed yourself inhaling and exhaling to the rhythm of a song, you’re already familiar with this type of breathing.
- Exhale to a count of four.
- Hold your lungs empty for a four-count.
- Inhale to a count of four.
- Hold the air in your lungs for a count of four.
- Exhale and begin the pattern anew.
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise naturally calms your nervous system. At first, it’s best to perform the exercise seated with your back straight. Once you become more familiar with this breathing exercise, however, you can perform it while lying in bed.
- Place and keep the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth for the duration of the exercise.
- Completely exhale through your mouth, making a “whoosh” sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
Lion’s breath is another helpful deep breathing practice. It can help relax the muscles in your face and jaw, alleviate stress, and improve cardiovascular function.
The exercise is best performed in a comfortable, seated position, leaning forward slightly with your hands on your knees or the floor.
- Spread your fingers as wide as possible.
- Inhale through your nose.
- Open your mouth wide, stick out your tongue, and stretch it down toward your chin.
- Exhale forcefully, carrying the breath across the root of your tongue.
- While exhaling, make a “ha” sound that comes from deep within your abdomen.
- Breathe normally for a few moments.
- Repeat lion’s breath up to seven times.
Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on your breathing and bringing your attention to the present without allowing your mind to drift off to the past or future.
- Choose a calming focus, including a sound (“om”), positive word (“peace”), or phrase (“breathe in calm, breathe out tension”) to repeat silently as you inhale or exhale.
- Let go and relax. When you notice your mind has drifted, take a deep breath and gently return your attention to the present.
Pursed-lip breathing is a simple breathing technique that will help make deep breaths slower and more intentional.
- Sit in a comfortable position with your neck and shoulders relaxed.
- Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nostrils for two seconds.
- Exhale through your mouth for four seconds, puckering your lips as if giving a kiss.
- Keep your breath slow and steady while breathing out.
To get the correct breathing pattern, practice pursed-lip breathing four to five times a day.
Resonance breathing can help you get into a relaxed state and reduce anxiety.
- Lie down and close your eyes.
- Gently breathe in through your nose, mouth closed, for a count of six seconds. Don’t fill your lungs too full of air.
- Exhale for six seconds, allowing your breath to leave your body slowly and gently without forcing it.
- Continue for up to 10 minutes.
- Take a few additional minutes to be still and focus on how your body feels.
Simple Breathing Exercise
You can perform this exercise as often as needed. It can be done standing up, sitting, or lying down. If you find this exercise difficult or believe it’s making you anxious or panicky, stop for now. Try it again in a day or so and build up the time gradually.
- Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose. Keep your shoulders relaxed. Your abdomen should expand, and your chest should rise very little.
- Exhale slowly through your mouth. As you blow air out, purse your lips slightly but keep your jaw relaxed. You may hear a soft “whooshing” sound as you exhale.
- Repeat this breathing exercise. Do it for several minutes until you start to feel better.
Sometimes people with a panic disorder initially feel increased anxiety or panic while doing this exercise. This may be due to anxiety caused by focusing on your breathing, or you may be unable to do the exercise correctly without some practice.
2. Steer away negative thoughts to Deal with Anxiety
Sometimes it is useful to learn to question your thought pattern. Try to avoid negative thoughts as they can distort the severity of your situation. The best way to achieve this is by challenging your fears, question their authenticity and determine how you can take control of your mind.
Here are some ways to stay away from negative thoughts to help deal with anxiety-
Pause a Moment
If you are feeling stressed, anxious, or stuck in negative thinking patterns, pause. Focus your awareness on the world around you with your five senses. What can you feel? What can you smell? And so on.
Notice the Difference
Notice the difference between being stuck in your thoughts vs. experiencing the present moment through your five senses. Pay attention to what you have been up to in your mind. Were you arguing with yourself? Struggling with disproving negative or critical self-evaluations? Trying to push unpleasant thoughts or images out of your head? Ask yourself whether this mental struggle is serving you well.
Label Your Thoughts
If it isn’t, see if you can step back and label your thoughts as they are, rather than literal truths. For example, you might practice slowing down your thoughts and adding to them the stem “I am having the thought that ….” Continue this practice of labeling, without attempting to soften, change, or avoid whatever thoughts you happen to be having. See if you can notice what it is like to have some distance between you—the thinker—and your thoughts.
Choose Your Intention
Choose your intention, and the next right step for you. Are you going to continue to struggle with your thoughts? Or you can choose to take a small step toward something that matters to you in your life.
3. Go on a 15 minutes’ walk or yoga session
You may never be able to get rid of anxious thoughts until you get engrossed in something else. The situation may be there to stay but you can choose to walk away from it. Take some time and do what you like doing for a hobby. Take time to explore your body and not your mind. This is an excellent way to relieve your anxiety.
If you decide to pick up yoga, make sure to use a mat to reduce slipping and make the positions more comfortable!
4. Aromatherapy can be a Great Way to Deal with Anxiety
It comes in various forms such as candles, oils, incenses and scents like sandalwood and chamomile. These scents are very soothing, and can help shift your mind from troubling events or situations.
Aromatherapy helps in the activation of certain receptors in the brain thus relieving anxiety. https://www.amazon.com/gp/search?ie=UTF8&tag=douggrows-20&linkCode=ur2&linkId=b8b39ae72b117ada0bc7271c3475224a&camp=1789&creative=9325&index=hpc&keywords=aromatherapy">AromatherapyGet your aromatherapy supplies here!
5. Jot Down Your Anxiety Triggers
Jotting down what makes you anxious helps to get it out of your mind thus making it less tormenting. This strategy is particularly relevant for people with sporadic anxiety. People dealing with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) can also achieve great results with this strategy.
People suffering from GAD shouldn’t focus on simple coping methods alone. They should also adopt other long-term strategies that will help lessen the symptoms severity and eventually wipe out the negative thoughts.
6. Eat a Healthy Diet
Don’t skip any meal and eat a well-balanced diet with enough nutritious foods to keep healthy and have energy boosts. The increase in energy and your body functioning properly will help deal with anxiety.
Normally, it is recommended to use a food tracking app to reach your fitness goals. However, in this case that might add more anxiety. Instead, try to get on a meal plan to help reduce stress around buying and preparing food. You can hire someone to make a plan for you or even just take up meal planning!
7. Reduce Caffeine and Alcohol
Excess alcohol and caffeine are known to trigger panic attacks and aggravate anxiety. If you are trying to deal with anxiety it is in your best interests not to consume things that will increase it.
If you require caffeine to function it might be worth checking out alternatives that also give you energy such as:
8. Exercise Regularly to Deal with Anxiety
Daily exercises help you feel good and maintain good mental health. You can achieve this through the following exercise tips:
- Set specific and realistic goals– Aim at daily consistency instead of perfect workouts. Instead of waiting to go for a 4-hour marathon during the weekend, try a 20-minutes’ walk every day. Frequency and consistency are more important than the quantity of a workout.
- 5×30– walk, jog, bike or dance at least five times a week, for at least 30 minutes.
- Get the best exercise for your group – there are different forms of exercise, all fun and enjoyable. If you are an extrovert, enroll in a class or group activity. Introverts often prefer solo pursuits.
- Listen to some cool music – distract your mind with an iPod or any other device to download music, podcasts or audiobooks. Some people will find it easier to get rid of negative thoughts if they listen to something else they find interesting or entertaining.
- Be patient – a new exercise program requires you to be patient. It may take you anywhere between 4-8 weeks to get relief from your anxiety.
If you aren’t sure where to start check out these exercise programs!