We all have the most perfect relaxation system already built within us, the breath. The only problem is - most of us have forgotten how to use it properly. Instead, we rely on short, shallow breathing which tells our body there is something stressful going on and helps to feed the anxiety cycle.
Each time you feel your anxiety getting worse, try taking a ten-minute breathing break. Simply take long deep breaths that fill your lungs completely and allow your mind (and stress levels) to slow down with each breath.
Take A Play Break
With technology making the lines between work and play very blurred, many of us never allow ourselves to switch off. We go to bed with a phone beside us, work 24/7, and find it hard to justify taking the time to do things that have no productive purpose.
This is a big mistake. Research has shown that people who make regular time to play (doing the things they enjoy just for the sake of it) are happier and suffer less anxiety. If you’ve forgotten how to play, carve out 20 minutes every day that are just for you. Don’t try to achieve anything in this time; simply do something you enjoy. And remember ‘play’ doesn’t have to look like children’s games. It could be reading a novel, sitting in the sunshine with a cup of tea, dancing in your lounge room, or yoga!
Movement might be one of the most valuable tools when it comes to warding off anxiety. Movement of all kinds helps to move negative energy out of the body and gets your endorphins pumping (your happy hormones!).
The most important thing is to choose a type of movement that you enjoy doing, not just one you think you should be doing. Our society has become so focused on movement for physical health that many of us have forgotten that it is just as important for our mental health, as well. If you love running - do that. But if you prefer dancing like a crazy person to 80’s hits - then that’s what you should do!
Nourish Your Body
Have you ever taken the time to think about how particular foods and drink make you feel? Caffeine, alcohol, sugar and processed foods have all be shown to make anxiety worse. Try experimenting with which foods make you feel good and which foods feed your anxiety. But be wary of the ‘quick fix’ - some foods will make you feel good in the short term and have you crashing and burning an hour or so later.
Generally whole, natural foods tend to calm anxious states as they help all of the systems of our body to work most effectively.
Many of us spend all day, every day, racing from one thing to another. Instead of having much needed quiet time when we’re travelling to work or waiting in line, we fill that time with checking emails and social media. Our brains are constantly on and it’s having an effect on our health.
Reclaiming pockets of time throughout your day as down time can have a huge impact on your anxiety. Meditation and yoga are great ways to help you consciously slow down, but you can also do this by spending (uninterrupted) time with children, taking the time to drink a cup of tea without scrolling through your phone, or just connecting with friends with no agenda or time schedule.