We all experience anxiety, whether it is through being in a crowded area, having a racing mind over to-do lists, or even the constant pressure from society to achieve more or be more. Sometimes, anxiety is a never-ending sense of dread that is brought on through no apparent reason. Fortunately, there are four practical tips we can use to rewire our brains, get into a mindset of peace, and ultimately ease anxiety.
1. Engage Your Anxious Feelings
For starters, recognize that you are dealing with anxiety. We often try to ignore this fact, and we end up shoving our feelings away in doing so. It’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re only going through a phase; these feelings will go away eventually. But when we lock those feelings up, we are unable to face them long enough to become the victor.
It’s as if anxiety is a caged prisoner—not only will it eventually grow so much that it shatters its cell, it can still shout lies into your being. It can still reach through the bars and prod you in the side whenever it wants. We need to face anxiety head-on—no bars or walls between us—and get it out.
Consider running toward anxiety. Engage the feelings. Focus on breathing and moving through them. And most of all, give yourself time and grace.
Moving your body is a great way to calm the nervous system. Working out also releases endorphins and increases your brain’s production of neurotransmitters that naturally make you feel good! Consider taking a walk in nature and observing the beauty around you, joining an exercise class, or finding a running group! Even when you don’t feel like it initially, moving will relax your body and “move” a lot of your anxious feelings out of your system.
Despite how much it makes an impact on our health, we seldom focus on our breathing. Focusing on slow, relaxed breathing can calm the body, mind, and soul almost immediately. Being able to control your breathing can have major health benefits, such as:
- Lower blood pressure
- Lower heart rate
- Reduction of stress and anxiety
- Stimulation of the lymphatic system
- More oxygen to nourish your brain and muscles
Taking shallow breaths confuses your body and puts it in an anxious, stressed out state. Practice taking deeper, from-the-belly breaths to soothe your mind and body.
4. Check Your Diet
It is commonly known that a poor diet can affect one’s mood. However, many forget that unknown food allergies and sensitivities can play into this as well.
Dairy, one of the most common food allergies, has been shown to negatively affect stress and attention spans. Dairy and gluten both tend to play a number on digestive systems, which causes a chemical stress response—and not just because you feel uncomfortable. These allergy symptoms can slip by almost unnoticed because they are tied to emotional well-being, not just physical.
Even sneakier than allergies, food sensitivities are extremely hard to track. Where allergies can affect you in a matter of minutes—even seconds—sensitivities may not cause any symptoms until as long as a week later. Sensitivities can cause a “foggy” feeling, headaches, mucus buildup, digestive issues, and stress when a certain food is ingested too often. But when these symptoms don’t show up until a day or more after digestion, it can be hard to deduce which food(s) affected you. It could even be that you have a sensitivity to an otherwise healthy food, such as almonds!
Because these sensitivities often cause only minor problems, many people try to just shrug off their symptoms as normal parts of life. But when you never quite feel one hundred percent physically, you are more prone to anxiety.
Easing Anxiety: The Takeaway
Treating anxiety is a whole-body journey. Work together with your mind and body to develop a victor’s mindset and speak life over yourself. When you can start saying, “I can do this,” instead of “I can’t,” you are on the right track to healing. Even if your mind still says, “I can’t,” speaking life anyway will begin to alter your thought process.
Most importantly, hold on to who you truly are. Many of those struggling with anxiety take it on as an identity—as if it’s simply a part of them. But the truth is, it’s not meant to be part of any of us. We must recognize its presence without adopting it. Practice saying, “I am currently struggling with anxiety,” rather than, “I have anxiety.” By engaging your feelings, moving, breathing, and checking your diet, you can begin to take your power back and ease anxiety.
Remember: You are capable of more than you realize, and you are more than anxiety would lead you to believe.
If you would like someone to come alongside you in this journey, please ask our office how we can help you from a holistic perspective. You don’t have to accept anxiety as part of you, and you certainly don’t have to walk through this alone.