It sometimes feels like anxiety arises at the most inconvenient times. It can happen as we go about our days while at work, while driving through traffic and even while we’re lying in bed trying to fall asleep. Anxiety can also be difficult to diffuse–fortunately, there are plenty of strategies for those fragile, panicky situations. Here’s a list of 10 things that can help when you’re feeling both stressed and nervous (hello, anxiety!).
1. Realize what’s happening
Instead of allowing the emotions we feel during stressful times to carry us away, take a second to step outside of yourself and evaluate those feelings. First, tell yourself that it’s anxiety, and that it will end over time. Reassure yourself that nothing bad is going to happen in that moment, and then figure out what the cause of the stress is. By establishing that your emotions are separate from yourself, you can minimize their intensity.
Mindful meditation usually helps to alleviate anxiety and panic attacks because you’re attempting to aim your attention toward the way your body feels during its respiratory movements, feeling the abdomen rise and fall while inhaling and exhaling. There’s also guided meditation, during which someone or something conducts your thoughts down a set channel, one step at a time. One of my favorite ways to meditate is by using the iPhone app called Buddhify. It works by offering users a list of activities to choose from, then breaking down the activity category into different sub-categories of guided meditation recordings. Each recording is tailored specifically to what you’re doing or feeling and ranges in time from three to 12 minutes.
3. Go outside
Open spaces are often helpful in times of stress. Walking outside and exposing yourself to more people might be an intimidating thought, especially if you’re dealing with social anxiety, so find a quiet space that’s apart from others where you can sit down or walk around. Even if the fresh air doesn’t help, the change of environment might.
4. Run a bath
Warm water sends signals to our bodies that it’s time to relax and go to sleep. Hot water encourages sleep and decreases brain activity. If you can, run a bath and add some lavender salts or bubbles to the tub, light candles, dim the lights and listen to relaxing or happy music.
5. Call someone
Talking to a friend or family member when we’re feeling anxious is a great way to vent, or take your mind off of whatever it is that’s causing stress.
6. Drink chamomile
I never liked the taste of tea when I was young– no matter what type it was– but once, during a day when my anxiety was fluctuating, I drank some chamomile tea and, to my surprise, it really helped. The effects of one cup of tea aren’t tremendously groundbreaking, but it’s a fast way to decrease stress. Studies show that subjects who took chamomile extract showed reduced anxiety *and* depression at a higher rate than those who took placebo. Whether you’re feeling panicky, heart beating fast and cheeks burning up, or so blue you have no energy at all, chamomile will be your friend.
Whether you enjoy jogging, lifting weights or swimming, exercising when you’re feeling anxious is beneficial. Physical activity works to reduce stress by burning up unused energy, releasing calming endorphins and decreasing the amount of cortisol (a hormone responsible for many things) in our bodies.
8. Use valerian root
Valerian root has been known to induce relaxation and drowsiness. It is used to treat conditions ranging from insomnia, ADHD, anxiety, and depression. It comes in many forms, but I prefer the valerian root supplement capsules because I can take them with me in my purse and know I have them throughout the day.
Do you have a favorite way to ease your anxieties?
Also see: 8 Tips for Immediate Anxiety Relief
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Photo: Alessandra via Flickr