Has anyone ever told you to “stay calm” or “just breathe” when feelings of anxiety creep up on you?
That chest tightness, sweaty palms, and racing heartbeat can seem impossible to just breathe through, but there’s certainly hope!
Try these 8 simple ways proven to reduce anxiety and keep it at bay.
1. Be Okay With Being Anxious
Self-acceptance that you’re going through a natural reaction will help you cope. Once you’re at peace with how your body is reacting, it’s much easier to think logically about the situation and focus not on how you’re feeling, but ways you can work through it.
2. Pay Attention To Your Thoughts And Question Them
When we’re anxious, we tend to catastrophize events or potential outcomes and our thoughts send us into internal chaos. Instead, listen to what your brain is telling you, and take a moment to ask yourself “if the worst possible outcome was to happen, would it be the end of the world?” or “Will I even care about this 1 year from now?”. This form of cognitive behavioral therapy, by using your rational thinking when you’re feeling this way, can help to switch your body back into a calmer state.
3. Sneak In A Quick Meditation Or Visualization
Podcasts, FMTV, youtube, or audio tapes - find a short meditation or visualisation series that you can play in your car, while you’re walking, or sitting waiting. Pop your headphones in and let your mind wander deep into a soothing meditation that will help to calm your nerves. If meditation isn’t your thing, listen to some relaxing music instead and try and match your breathing to the steady pace of the song. You can find some incredibly soothing guided meditations on FMTV for all levels! Try it for free here.
4. Watch Something Funny
Those funny cat videos go viral for a reason! Studies show that watching or listening to something funny can relieve stress and anxiety. So next time you’re feeling those familiar uncomfortable signs of anxiety, jump onto your Facebook feed, or search for some funny videos to watch. Anything that tickles your fancy - cat videos, failed stunts, babies laughing or stand up comedy. If they make you laugh, they’ll help!
5. Bring The Focus Back To Right Now
A lot of the time, we worry about what the future holds. What might happen. Instead, focus on what’s happening in the present. Where are you right now? What does the temperature feel like? What are you wearing? What colours are around you? What are other people doing near you? What is your breathing doing? Can you focus simply on your breath? Not trying to control it, but just focusing on what it is doing.
Studies show simply being mindful of the present can reduce signs and symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression. If you struggle to do this on your own, have someone else prompt you with questions, or listen to a guided meditation.
6. Get Moving, Regularly
A regular exercise program not only lets you get some fresh air, it’s a great stress and anxiety reliever! Part of the natural anxiety response is the release of adrenalin. This increases your heart rate and gets you ready to “fight or flight”.
If you’re sitting down and feel overwhelmed, go for a walk to get some fresh air. If you’re anxious from the day, finish off your work day with a run, a boxing session or another fun activity that naturally burns the excess energy and helps to use up the adrenalin released in a positive way. Not only will you feel calmer, but your mood will be boosted thanks to the increase in endorphins!
7. Settle Your Stomach
Aside from the typical signs of anxiety, it can also cause us to feel sick in the stomach, have us running to the bathroom, or simply make us lose our appetite. Find some tummy soothers you like and carry them around with you. Something as simple as peppermints or crystallized ginger to munch on, or a cup of peppermint or ginger tea can help settle your stomach, reducing your symptoms and helping you to regain your focus.
8. Give Yourself An Anchor
In NLP, "anchoring" refers to the process of associating an internal response with some external or internal trigger so that the response may be quickly, and sometimes covertly, reaccessed. Working with an NLP practitioner, you can condition yourself to believe that doing a certain action can help change your response. For example, you could create an anchor based around rubbing your left knee, or massaging your right earlobe. Then, when you are feeling stressed or anxious, you can focus on doing this task to bring you back to a sense of calm.