According to the World Health Organization, about 1 in 13 people have anxiety and it is only rising further with the increased demands on to-do lists, the millionaire entrepreneurs getting younger and younger increasing the pressure we feel to succeed, and seeing the perfect pictures on Instagram. In this article I’m going to give you ten simple tips to keep the anxiety at bay so you can show up as your best self and realize you are enough simply as you are.
- Gratitude – Make gratitude a habit. It’s hard to feel stressed or angry when you are grateful. Where most people go wrong is they make it a chore and don’t get specific. When you practice gratitude make sure you feel into it for maximum impact and be specific. Imagine saying, “I’m grateful for my mom,” and then saying, “I’m grateful that my mom is so supportive when I’m struggling,” and closing your eyes to remember a time you were just really down and out and your mom was there to cheer you up and you know she is the person you can count on whenever you are down. Did the second version give you a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling? Were you able to paint a picture? You don’t have to think of a specific time per se but it’s helpful to feel into the gratitude statement. For some people practicing gratitude daily helps and some studies say doing it once a week is more effective; it’s really about experimenting and seeing what works best for you.
- Laugh – Have you ever gotten into an argument with someone but then somehow you started laughing and forget what you were arguing about? Laughter releases feel-good endorphins which reduces our stress and anxiety. A good way to get a laugh in every day is to have a YouTube or Facebook channel that you can go to daily and watch 5 minutes of funny videos on your lunch break.
- Movement – Moving your body helps endorphins flow to give you a feel-good feeling and it also moves that tense energy in your body. I’m not saying go lift weights for an hour every day but definitely move for 20-30 minutes a day…even if it’s dancing in your room to songs you loved in grade school. It doesn’t matter how you move, just move.
- Get connected – No, not with people. Our society has programed us in a way to believe that unless we are talking to someone or working on something, we are not being productive or are wanted. Many people have a difficult time being alone these days but to tune into who you truly are, what your true thoughts and feelings are, and to really get that quietness you crave in your mind, you have to allow yourself to be still, alone. Everything is energy which is abundant in nature so going for a hike, a walk, boating, biking, to a park, or wherever there is less people and more nature, will help to ground you. There are a ton of studies on how nature helps to reduce anxiety and a whole book on how the ocean makes us happier called, Blue Mind. It’s not a coincidence so many people love pictures of the beach.
- Get talking – While we need time alone, talking out what is on your mind also releases anxiety and provides a sense of community which is a primal need. Have a couple friends you can talk to on the daily to make you laugh or be there when you need to vent.
- Have a morning routine – What’s the best way to make a cake? Preheat the oven! So often we jump right onto our phones in the morning and think about what we need to get done that we have already put ourselves into stress mode. Give yourself just 15 minutes each morning to have a routine that makes you feel good and connects you with your goals for the day so you can begin the day more intentionally. Maybe this includes journaling, meditation, yoga, reading…it doesn’t matter what it is as long as it feeds your soul.
- Do not disturb – Put that dang phone on do not disturb at night so you get a peaceful night sleep and leave it be until you finish your morning routine! I dare you to not look at your phone first thing in the morning (turning off the alarm excluded) and tell me you don’t feel just a little better. When you sleep better and you’re not worried about responding to texts and emails within the first 5 minutes of waking up (I promise the world won’t end if you wait half hour), you not only feel better from a restful night sleep, but you also allow yourself to move more slowly through the day reducing the stressful feelings from rushing.
- Breathing exercises – either in the morning or in the evening before bed spend just 3-5 minutes practicing breathing exercises. When we are stressed we tend to revert to shallow breathing which is why deep breathing and expanding the lungs are often recommended to slow our heart rate. There are many different types of breathing exercises that can be found online. I usually use the typical 4-7-8 method where you inhale for 4 through the belly and into the chest, hold for 7, and exhale for 8.
- Don’t be so childish – actually, yes, be a child! You know when you pass by a playground and think, “man, I wish I could just be that carefree without worry?” Well stop being such an adult and act like a child once a day. Bring more childlike joy into your life whether it’s making a funny face in the mirror or having a chocolate pudding fight (I do have a picture of pudding on my face), making cookies, running as fast as you can not for exercise but just to see how fast you can go, colour, do the macarena, etc. Think of what you did as a kid that you enjoyed and work on incorporating more of that into your daily life.
- Pay attention to what you’re eating – I know days can get so busy and hectic but all the fast food and heavy meals actually contribute to our anxiety so make sure you are paying attention to what makes your body feel good when you eat and drink water throughout the day.
These tips will help you on your way to reducing your stress and anxiety. To get the most out of this list focus on just one or two tips at a time and slowly incorporate the others to see what works best for you.