5 Easy Ways To Ease Anxiety
Anxiety, panic and overwhelm are emotions that have become all-too-familiar within our modern society. The ever-increasing pressure of the world, with a growing mental health epidemic, now thrust into the midst of a viral outbreak will have large-scale consequences for public health long after the lockdowns finish. So, I can see why you might be feeling it a little more unsettled than usual. No matter what time of day the anxiety sets in, here are a toolbox of easy ways to ease the panic.
1. Develop A Breathwork Practice
As my good friend Wim Hof says “the breath knows how to go deeper than the mind”. It’s an ancient yogic truth and one that is relevant in modern times now more than ever. Having a breathwork practice has been praised for widespread health benefits, and coping with moments of anxiety is a common one. In the midst of a panic attack, it is an aware breath that calms us. It is something and possibly the only, that with practice, we can have control over, and it will be there for us when we need it. Simply breathe in for a count of four, hold for a single count and exhale for a count of 8. Extending the exhalation and focusing on using abdominal breathing are verified ways to enact the parasympathetic nervous system and send a safe, calming signal to your brain.
2. Start Your Day With A Meditation
Drop-in, center yourself, be present. Starting your day with a meditation invites the calm you wish to see for the next 24 hours. You know all about the benefits of meditation, but how do you put it into practice when you’re caught up in panic? Laurentine's simple guided meditation for happiness is a wonderful way to start your day. For the more advanced meditator, Ashleigh Sergeant offers a meditation to rewire your neural pathways. Koya Webb’s 10-minute meditation is perfect for in-the-moment relaxation, or for extra yummy practice, try Tom Cronin's Meditation for Sleep before bed.
3. Eat Well-Balanced Meals (With Adaptogens)
No doubt you’ve heard the saying, ‘you are what you eat’, and at Food Matters, we know this to be true. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America believes that one of the best coping strategies for anxiety is making sure your plate is full of all the good stuff. Skipping meals, especially breakfast, throws our body out of a natural rhythm, but making sure we’re getting a healthy dose of all of our macro and micronutrients means our bodies can function at their best - brains love healthy fats! There are also incredible adaptogens on the market, such as reishi and jing, that make a beautiful addition to soups or hot drinks for balancing the mind.
4. Take Time Out
When you feel the first signs of panic beginning to settle in, put everything to the side and take some time to yourself. Five minutes may be all that you need, but removing yourself from any situation that triggers feelings of anxiety will bring you back to the state of calm. It’s harder than normal right now, we know this. Try taking five minutes in the garden, or doing a quick yoga flow in the sunshine. Even put on your throwback playlist and have a little boogie. Spend the next few moments doing something that makes your heart sing.
5. Get A Decent Sleep
Do you know much about sleep hygiene? I don’t mean brushing your teeth and washing your face (although I would recommend both). But what I mean is setting your space up for the best night’s sleep you ever had. A doctor once told me our beds should be used for sleep and sex, nothing else. Leave your guilty pleasure TV shows for the sofa and limit the time spent on your smartphone. It is recommended that we get a good eight hours in, so make sure you catch that first train to bed when you get a wave of tiredness around 8.30pm. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, try a Yoga Nidra meditation to calm your monkey mind. A deep sleep, where our brain can work through its different waves, allows our mind to relax and reset for a calm day ahead.