7 Effective Ways to Reduce Anxiety
Over the past year or so I’ve been pretty open with my issues with anxiety. I had my first panic attack, that I can remember, back in 7th grade after a traumatic experience trying to transition from a public elementary school to a strict Catholic middle school. I’m not going to get into much detail because reflecting on that experience is still pretty triggering for me. The day my parents took me to the hospital and the doctor said that my chest pains and shortness of breath were due to anxiety was the beginning of many more awakening experiences.
Like many others, I’ve dealt with anxiety alone for years and I’m still learning how to cope. Maybe you don’t have the friends or family that understand what you’re going through. Maybe you’re not ready to reach out for help but the fact that you’re reading this post is a great step in the right direction and I’m here to give you a few helpful tips. These tips will help to ease your mind when your mind goes into panic mode
First things first, this needs to be said: Anxiety is NOT always a mood or emotional. For some its a nervous disorder that all has to do with brain chemistry. It can be triggered over time from life experiences or just something a person is born with and develops over time.
Secondly, I am not a professional nor an expert. The tips I’m about to give you are from my own experience and research. Even after reading these tips I suggest you do your own research and seek help from a professional especially if you suffer from severe anxiety.
Redirect Your Focus – When I feel a panic attack coming on or even when I’m in the midst of one, this exercise has helped me:
I look around and make observation about my surroundings in my head. For example, “the walls are beige, the tiles on the ground are cream”, I count objects in my head “I can see 20 tiles on the ground”. Another is an example I learned from watching the Netflix show Marvel’s Jessica Jones. She would think of her childhood home, say to herself the address, then name the cross streets. Think of a place you have fond memories of and mapping out your route there in your head is oddly calming.
Journaling – When I feel overwhelmed or my brain is cluttered with worry I take out my journal and just write. Anything & everything thing that’s bothering me goes on the pages and once I’m done I feel so much lighter emotionally. It’s like clearing space in my brain. Crazy thing is, writing helps me rationalize my emotions so I’m no longer worried or stressing.
Make A List – To-Do list, things that make me happy, things I’m grateful for, shows I want to watch, bucket list, books I want to read… Again, it’s a way to get rid of mental clutter. It’s also a great distraction from what ever is triggering the anxiety.
Clean up/Organize – A clean space creates a clear mind. This is actually something I need to work on. I swear my room only stays completely tidy and organized for maybe 24 hours until it’s time for me to get ready to go out or something. When my room is clean I actually feel a lot calmer and it’s one less thing to worry about.
Warm Shower/Bath – It just something about a warm, steamy shower teamed up with lavender or eucalyptus scents that seems to melt all the worries away even if it’s temporary. Also, buying my Bluetooth shower speakers was one of my best investments. Having my favorite songs playing in the background makes it 10x better.
Watch Cartoons – I’m a big ass kid, sue me. I love cartoons and watching something that doesn’t require much thinking helps me unwind and clear my head. I swear I’ve watched every episode of Bob’s Burgers at least 10 times. I also have a weak spot for Baby Looney Toons and My Little Pony…don’t judge me too much lol
Meditation/Prayer – having a nice long talk with God gives me so much clarity. He knows my heart and soul, knows me better than I know myself. I can be completely emotionally naked and know that after I lay all my worries and burdens out on the table and he’ll handle it. Even if you don’t share my beliefs, meditation can also help in conjunction with prayer or just alone. For someone with anxiety it might take some time and practice to focus only on breathing but once you’re able to it’s such a release. Here are 2 meditation apps to get you started:
Again, these are just a few practices that have helped me. Depending on the severity of your anxiety some of the tips may or may not help you. You might even have to try them multiple times or tweak them to your liking. Remember, it’s okay to seek out professional help if you need to.