Whether you struggle with chronic anxiety, panic attacks, or simply the stress of everyday life, it's easy to feel like you're going crazy when anxiety rears its ugly head. Anxiety can feel as though it's taking over your entire self, interfering with your ability to make decisions, manage your daily life, or even speak. Try these relaxation techniques to help you stay level and grounded.
Rest assured, you're not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health condition, affecting 40 million Americans—18% of the population—each year. Forty-four percent of Americans report feeling more stressed than they did five years ago, and 20% say they suffer from “extreme stress.” Stress and anxiety are very real, and your symptoms are not your fault. They're also highly treatable. Even medical doctors who may be more familiar with recommending prescription drugs, are increasingly recognizing the value of simple relaxation techniques. Try implementing a new technique each week to help manage your stress and anxiety so that you can enjoy your life again.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Dozens of scientific studies point to the value of meditation, and it is supported by a compelling, and growing, body of evidence. Mindfulness involves an awareness of the present moment, with a gentle return to this awareness when one observes that their thoughts have strayed. Not sure how to get started? There is no right or wrong way to meditate, as long as you're cultivating mindfulness. Some options to consider include:
- Vipassana meditation classes.
- Contemplating a single mantra or object.
- Focusing on an awareness of the breath.
- Counting backwards while taking deep breaths.
- Visualizing yourself stress-free and happy.
Yoga and Other Exercise
If you're feeling anxious, finding the motivation to exercise can prove challenging, but exercise comes with a big payoff. A mountain of evidence suggests that regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise and stretching, can be as effective as popular anti-anxiety medications and anti-depressants. Exercise provides a boost of endorphins and other feel-good neurotransmitters that improve mood and, with regularity, help your body to better manage the stress response.
If you're new to exercise, you may wish to consider yoga. Yoga offers meditative benefits through its focus upon the breath. It may also help alleviate chronic pain—a common symptom among those who struggle with anxiety.
Anxiety isn't something you choose, but it can become a habit over time. Break the habit of anxiety with these lifestyle strategies:
- Slow down your thoughts and pay attention to the automatic negative things you tell yourself. Then replace these destructive thoughts with more realistic and productive healthy thoughts.
- Reduce your caffeine intake.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet, as proper nutrition is fundamental to mental/emotional and physical well-being.
- Consider a natural supplement such as Anxiety & Stress Essentials which features herbs and nutrients that nourish and strengthen the nervous system.
- Avoid people who cause you to feel anxious or scared.
- Learn your triggers for anxiety. This can prepare you to deal with these triggers in advance, and help you feel less out of control.
- Take an hour each day to do something you enjoy; constantly rushing about is a major factor in anxiety.
- Consider taking public transit or carpooling if traffic figures prominently in your stress.
- Take a vacation, and take regular work breaks if you are able.
- Consider therapy, which can help you better understand your anxiety while offering you healthier ways to deal with the stress of daily life.
Better Life Management
For many stress sufferers, anxiety is a vicious cycle: you feel anxious, so you don't or can't do what you need to. This creates further anxiety, causing you to fall more and more behind. To stop this cycle, take a little extra time to get your life under control. Some highly effective strategies include:
- Making a “time budget” so you know exactly how you want to spend your time—and how much you'll lose if you procrastinate.
- Making to-do lists. Don't just make a general list, though. The steps should be clear and actionable, not vague items like “lose weight.” Then break your list down into daily, weekly, and monthly steps ‘till you're steadily moving toward your goals.
- Reduce distractions by limiting social media, turning off your smartphone when you eat, exercise, or socialize, and never having your computer or phone in the bedroom.
- Only perform one task at a time so that you can enjoy the experience of its successful completion, which will further motivate you in a positive feedback loop.
No one wants to go through life saddled with anxiety, and you don't have to. Anxiety is a challenging disorder, but there are methods and treatments available that work to relieve and overcome it; the key is to keep trying things until you find something that works for you.