Anxiety is tough, but luckily there are a few tips for anxiety that can help make it a little easier. I’ve found that anxiety is usually actually trying to tell you something, so it can be helpful to let yourself feel your feelings first to figure out what’s really going on.
Anxiety and depression are kind of like the pain you feel if you put your hand on a hot stove, but emotional pain instead. They can actually be very helpful indicators that something isn’t quite working in your life, or that you’ve pushed yourself too far outside your comfort zone (try taking slower baby steps), or are possibly doing something you really don’t want to or shouldn’t be doing.
What is your anxiety trying to tell you? It’s there to serve a purpose.
First, sit with the discomfort without trying to push your feelings away. Honestly, if you can master this one tip of just sitting with your anxiety, as hard as it is at first, the feelings usually start to subside on their own after a few minutes.
I recommend the other tips for after you’ve already let yourself feel your feelings. As they said in The Fault in Our Stars, “Pain demands to be felt.”
Why Anxiety Can Be a Good Thing
Although anxiety and stress feel terrible at the time, they actually tell us something very useful. Here’s why anxiety can be a good thing.
First, consider this quote:
“Nothing can be more functional than an internal warning system among people. And nothing can be more dysfunctional than to ignore the warning or take the edge off.” – Marianne Williamson
In other words, anxiety is our body’s warning system that lets us know that something’s wrong. Maybe there’s something “off” in our life, maybe we’re about to do something we shouldn’t, or maybe we’re living a life that’s not in line with our values and what we truly want.
Being stressed out and anxious isn’t fun, but if we felt perfectly stress-free about an unhealthy situation, then how would we know we need to change something?
For example, maybe you spend eighty hours a week at a highly stressful job, and you go home every night and have major anxiety because this is not what you imagined for your life at all. Or maybe you’re stuck in an unhealthy relationship and you constantly feel anxious and trapped.
The anxiety is giving you a chance to make a change to your life, and it’s a sign that something just isn’t working. Although you can definitely do things like meditation and breathing exercises to help anxiety in the moment, it’s more helpful long term if you figure out the root cause behind all the stress and change or eliminate it.
On the other hand, maybe you’re anxious about something that’s outside of your control. If you’ve done your part and done the best you can, then all you can do is let go of the outcome and try to focus on things that are within your control, like what you can do next.
Find one thing that you’re currently anxious about and try to figure out what it’s really trying to tell you. Is it something within your control that you might need to change, or just something you need to let go?
20 Tips for Anxiety to Lower Your Stress
1. Breathe into your feelings
2. Light a relaxing candle
3. Do a candle-gazing meditation
4. Sit in stillness for 20 minutes
5. Watch the night sky in silence
6. Follow a guided meditation
7. Go for a slow walk around the neighborhood
8. Try a magnesium supplement like Natural Calm (talk to a doctor first)
9. Do some gentle stretches
10. Do yoga
11. Pet a kitty or other animal
12. Stroke a soft blanket for a substitute cat 🙂
13. Take a bubble bath
14. Free write your feelings in a journal or Word Doc
15. Write down your feelings on a piece of paper and shred or burn it
16. Paint with soothing colors
17. Color in an adult coloring book
18. Make a Calm Down Jar
19. Take three deep breaths
20. Say positive affirmations
What tips for anxiety are you going to try? 🙂
Get these tips as a downloadable PDF:
If you’d like more tips for anxiety, check out our class Slow it Down.