Anxiety can be really hard to live with and even downright terrifying at times. I know from my personal experience with anxiety that it can sometimes be completely debilitating, affecting my daily life and relationships. We’re lucky we live in a world where it’s becoming easier to talk about anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses. The cause of anxiety is different for every person, but it's common ground that we need to do the work if we want to see change.
Chronic anxiety – anxiety that lasts for long periods of time – can lead to a feeling of helplessness and never-ending stress. It is often linked with poor diet, lack of sleep, and environmental factors. Getting to the root of your anxiety is very important in learning how to handle it. This can seem like a daunting task and it’s not always easy to get to the root of the cause, but only you can find that answer for yourself. A good way to start is to sit down, get comfortable and quiet, and ask yourself what’s going on. Ask yourself what is bothering you, and allow yourself the space for the answer to surface. It might take some time so be compassionate to yourself. Chances are you already know the answers. That being said, there is still relief from the torment of anxiety. Here are five quick fixes I’ve used in the past to calm my anxiety.
1. SPEND TIME OUTSIDE
Nature is very healing. It grounds us. It is soothing for the soul. Nature teaches us about living in harmony. When you feel anxious, get outside! Sit in the grass, jump into a lake, dig your hands and heels into the Earth; whatever is available. Nature always brings us closer to our natural state: peace. In Ayurvedic studies, anxiety and stress are often a sign of excessive air qualities in the mind ( vata ). You can counteract this by surrounding yourself with earth and water qualities, either by playing in your garden or swimming. Get closer in any way to the elements of earth and water – you’ll likely notice the difference almost immediately.
2. PRACTICE DEEP BREATHING
Breathing exercises can be very helpful in reducing anxiety. I personally practice Nadi Shodhana , aka alternate nostril breathing, everyday. This simple technique calms the mind and balances the left and right brain. You can practice this as often as you like, but for better results, practice it daily. Focusing on the breath helps to bring us back into the present moment, which is very helpful for anxious people, as we tend to get caught up in the past and future very easily. A simple practice includes closing your eyes and taking five deep breaths to help you quiet your mind and come back to the present moment.
Meditation does wonders for calming the mind. However, for a lot of people, the traditional way of practicing meditation isn’t always accessible, especially for those who suffer from anxiety. I personally love using guided meditations as you can allow yourself to relax a little more, and I stop worrying about how long I’ve been sitting there. If that doesn’t work for you, try other non-conventional ways to meditate like yoga, swimming, or coloring. There are many ways to get present. See what works best for you.
Yoga is the ultimate form of physical movement for relaxation, as it was designed to get you out of your head and be a moving meditation. Poses like child’s pose, forward folds, and inversions are very calming on their own. Aside from yoga, any exercise will be beneficial, especially if you get outdoors at the same time. When we exercise endorphins (feel-good hormones) are released from our brain and help to boost our mood and calm us down. Whether it be yoga, running, snowboarding, skiing, mountain climbing, biking, or walking, the most important part is getting some form of exercise everyday.
5. USE POSITIVE AFFIRMATIONS
Positive affirmations are a great way to reprogram our thoughts. Try implementing a positive mantra into your everyday life either in your journalling, meditation, or with little post-it reminders around your house. Use sayings like “I am enough” or “I am happy” or “I am safe” to help alleviate anxiety.
Remember to take the time to figure out what’s going on in your life that’s causing the anxiety and take action accordingly. Life is too short to be anything but happy, healthy, and peaceful. Keep in mind, though, that these practices might not ‘cure’ your anxiety, but they will, however, help you cope. If you are dealing with chronic anxiety, it is always worth visiting your doctor or physician.