This is a guest post by Lystia Putranto. Originally published on Book Meditation Retreats. Republished here with permission.
“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. If encouraged; it cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained.” – Arthur Somers Roche
Sometimes nothing feels quite as awful than anxiety. In this state of mind, we tend to think of only the worst case scenarios. It robs us of our joy, makes us lose focus and leaves us feeling as if we have no control over our own lives.
5 Easy Ways to Calm Yourself Down When You’re Anxious
Fortunately for us, there’s much we can do to reduce anxiety and its effects on our mind, body, and soul. Here are simple and fuss-free tips to apply that I have found to be effective to help me establish and maintain a calmer peace of mind in situations that previously would send me into a tailspin:
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1. Take Deep Breaths
It seems hard to believe that one of the simplest actions that you can take – taking deep breaths – may just be one of the most effective ways to calm ourselves down when we feel an anxiety attack coming on. Breathing deeply differs from our normal breathing (shallow breathing) as it requires your focus to breathe from your diaphragm as opposed to just breathing from your nose. Moreover, shallow breathing may often feel tense and constricted, whereas deep breathing induces relaxation.
By just taking a minimum of 10 deep breaths whenever you find yourself feeling anxious, you can instantly feel more peaceful and more importantly, it could bring our focus back to the present moment even in moments of panic or extreme anxiety. Through focusing our attention in the present moment, we are able to give our best effort in finding solutions to the issue(s) we worry about. Another great thing about this anxiety-reducing tool is that it is also accessible to you whenever and wherever you need it.
If you’re looking to gain a more lasting effect that you get from deep breathing, I highly recommend that you take up the practice of meditation. Not only will you be able to feel more at ease and calmer, you’re bound to also reap the many other benefits that come with meditation!
2. Listen to Inspiring Tunes
I’m a true believer in the power of music and great tunes can be a great tool in lifting our spirits whenever we feel anxious or overwhelmed. Create a special playlist of your favorite inspiring (preferably upbeat) tunes and be sure to have them on hand to give you a spirit boost whenever you feel less than stellar. If you’re up for it, why not kick it up a notch and have yourself a dance party of one while you are listening to favorite music! It may sound silly but I personally have found it to be a great and quick way to lift my spirit and shake off those pesky anxieties.
3. Let it Out
When we are plagued with anxiety, one of the best ways to alleviate yourself from that palpable worry is to talk it out with someone you trust. One of the toughest things to deal with when it comes to anxiety is the facade that you are alone and that you are the only one in the world who is going through challenging times. Feeling anxious and feeling like you have to keep it all bottled up is unhealthy and can often feel excruciatingly difficult.
The truth is, all of us have experienced anxiety and worry and this is why it is crucial for us to be able to turn to our spouse, friend, parent or sibling and share our troublesome thoughts. More often than not, you’d find that they too have experienced similar situations and would able to offer solutions to help you or at the very least, lend an emphatic shoulder to lean on.
4. Jot it Down
If for one reason or another you feel uncomfortable sharing your feelings and thoughts to others, an alternative tool you can use is to keep a journal. That way, you can “spill” whatever you are going throughout and/or feeling in private. There’s something soothing and cathartic in writing out your inner most thoughts into paper that often leaves you feeling calmer and more at peace.
As someone who has journaled regularly since her early teen years, it became evident that most of my anxieties were just stories that I created and that my worries were far from being real. In writing our thoughts down consistently, you too may found most things that you have previously felt anxious or worried about in the past never actually end up happening. Our minds like to play tricks on us, making us focus on the worst scenarios of situations as opposed to what’s actually real and this is definitely something worth keeping in mind the next time we find ourselves filled with worry. As Dan Zadra, a renowned author said, “Worry is a misuse of imagination”.
5. Get Physically Active
Science has provided much evidence that physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people (those who are not physically active). Exercise may also improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress and feelings of worry. In one study, researchers found that those who do regular vigorous exercise were 25% less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder.
Whatever type of exercises you prefer, aside from being extremely beneficial to our health and fitness, making sure that you get your regular dose of exercise is a great way to reduce anxiety. Though it sounds counter-intuitive, exercise actually increases our endorphin levels which are our body’s “feel good” chemicals and this, as a result, helps us burn off excess adrenaline that we produce when we are at a heightened state of anxiety.
Lystia is a personal & professional development blogger who seeks to inspire and to motivate people to create and to live out their best lives. A proponent of meditation, she actively encourages those who seek to become their best selves to integrate meditation as part of their daily routine.