10 Ways You Can Control Your Anxiety
Lead a happier, healthier life with these following strategies.
Personally, I have lived with severe anxiety since I can remember. Even as a little girl, I was an anxious sort. With that said, my siblings and I grew up learning to stifle and suppress emotions. However, I was able to express how I was feeling while growing up more than my siblings were afforded. Solely because my parents were older when they had me and were a bit more lax with me if our Father can be called lax about anything. Yet, I still didn’t feel I could speak freely with them. It wasn’t until adulthood that our Mother and I became very close-knit. She was my very best friend!
In my adult life, I have learned to control my anxiety without medication. But, this hasn’t always been the case. I was on Valium 3 times a day for over a decade due to severe anxiety and its effects. So, I am, by no means, a master. I have a primal avoidance due to such a severe reaction to outside stimuli and its effects on me. I can not be in a crowded room. The noise alone is maddening. I may not be able to see very well, but what I lack in the vision department I make up 10 fold with the remaining senses. The sense of hearing is the key one. When in extreme environments, I tend to have a tremor in my right arm that travels down to the hand on that side. Depending on my flight or fight reaction to this stimuli, my head will shake in what I can only chalk up to a nervous reaction. I believe this is a genetic trait that runs on my paternal side. But, this is not solid fact.
The following 10 ways to help control anxiety are what has been tried and true methods for myself and I wanted to share them. Keep in mind, not all methods are for everyone. In any case, it is always best to seek medical advice and counsel before starting any new regime.
Let’s get started!
1. Practice Deep-Breathing
The best, by far, in my opinion. Which is why I chose it for the first one. If I can breathe through having two extremely healthy boys naturally, then I can breathe through the anxiety. The best gift I have ever given myself was going to Lamaze classes when carrying my first son. I would suggest getting in contact with your local hospital to see if they offer a breathing program similar to Lamaze. Perhaps they will just let you enroll in the actual Lamaze class they have going on.
But, to start out, you will want to try this method for as long as it takes in the beginning to relax your mind. Ultimately, you will want to set aside 15 to 30 minutes a day to breathe and meditate for this to become a habit. It’s said it takes 30 days to create a habit.
- Sit with your eyes closed and focus all of your attention on your breathing. Naturally, breath through your nostrils, without attempting to control it.
- Be aware of the sensations that breathing produces.
- Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Doesn’t matter which side goes where as long as you are comfortable. Or as comfortable as can be while breathing through an anxiety attack.
- Take in a deep breath through your nose and hold for a count of four. Next, hold your breath for a count of three. Then, exhale through the mouth for a count of four.
- The hand you have placed on your belly should go in as you inhale, and move outward as you exhale.
- Rinse and repeat however many times you need until your breathing has slowed and your mind settles.
The sooner you implement this behavior into your daily routine, the sooner you will start your day in the here and now. Stop worrying about the future. Stop reliving your past. Neither can be controlled. Your control lies in the present. It’s in the present that you will find peace of mind and relaxation techniques for your body.
Our stress, impatience, and frustration can affect our health dramatically.
“Keeping calm is an inside job”
In our hectic, fast-paced, rush rush rush day in and day out demands of life, many of us are left to feel stressed and overworked. Are you left thinking, “there just isn’t enough time in the day”? Well, you’re not alone.
Meditation affords you the help you need to overcome your stress, find inner peace and balance. It is possible to teach yourself to transform your mind from negative programming to a more positive one. To overcome a negative mind you must cultivate constructive thoughts from within.
Usually, we find it difficult to control our minds. Ever laid in bed at night and felt as if your mind was running a marathon? You’re not alone!
For me, meditation and breathing go hand in hand. I seldom do one without the other. Combined, they are amazing when it comes to re-wiring our brains. If, like me, you have found yourself with racing thoughts while meditating. Please, realize this is completely normal! Some say their thoughts speed up when in fact you are simply becoming more aware of just how busy your mind actually is. Do your very best to resist the temptation to follow your different thoughts. You may have to conscientiously tell yourself to get back on track. But, that’s okay! Once again, completely normal.
When you do find yourself traipsing off with all these thoughts, and you will; return your whole concentration back onto your breathing. Think calm, pleasant, measured and open-minded thoughts, and your day will reflect the 10 minutes you took to meditate before starting a busy day.
There are several health benefits to the nervous system with meditation. They are:
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve blood circulation
- Lower heart rate
- Slower respiratory rate
- Less anxiety
- Lower blood cortisol levels
- A greater sense of well-being
- Less S T R E S S
- Deeper relaxation
This following exercise is what I use daily to ease my mind and slow my body.
- Sit or lie comfortably in comfortable surroundings.
(You may want to invest in a meditation chair.)
- Close your eyes.
- Make no effort to control your breathing at this time. Just simply breathe.
- Focus all your attention on your breath without controlling it. Focus on how the body moves while taking a breath in and a breathing out.
- If your mind wanders, return your focus on your breathing once again. Do this every time your mind wanders.
- Maintain this practice for two to three minutes, in the beginning, working your way up as time goes on.
3. Practice Self-Care
This one is so very important. All too often, we Mother’s, put our families needs well before our own. But, we all need that special ME time to recharge and regroup so we can get up and do it all over again. Mom’s don’t get sick days or time off for a job well done. So, treat yourself! To what, you may ask? Well, I’m sure with each individual there is that one special thing that makes you feel like a million bucks. Right?
Here are just a few ideas I jotted down:
- Get a massage. Oh yes, Momma … you’ve earned it!
- Mani/Pedi outing with the girls or alone if you prefer.
- How about an awesome new style or haircut?
- Take yourself on a date for coffee or an adult beverage. Include friends if you are starved for adult conversation.
Nothing says sexy like a polished, well-maintained, healthy glow!
If money is tight, here are a few alternatives.
- Look for a discount salon or training school.
- Take a long, relaxing bubble bath after putting the kids to bed. Include your favorite adult beverage or a simple glass of wine. Add some candles for a soothing ambiance.
- Submerse yourself into that movie/program you’ve had recorded but can’t seem to find the time to watch.
- Get back to nature. Hike or a walk.
- Sit outdoors and enjoy a cup of coffee to center yourself.
Nothing will hold you back like clutter. It stifles creativity and optimism! So, if you’ve not touched it in 6 months to a year, it’s safe to say you can part with it. That’s the rule of thumb.
Here is a quick organization lesson:
- Choose a drawer, cabinet or closet to start.
- Categorize the stuff you don’t use.
- Make 3 piles for a) items to throw away, b) items to donate, and c) items to sell.
Hold a yard sale with all the extra clutter you are eliminating from your life. Put the extra money into a “Self-Care” fund for yourself.
4. Lavender it Up, Girlfriend!
I am a firm believer in essential oils. Lavender is my go-to when anxious. It has so many healing properties when it comes to stress, anxiety, and other nervous conditions. Lavender can also help to soothe painful joints and ease tired muscles. Also, it can help with sleep. It can reduce the duration of a headache. Lavender is also used as a muscle relaxer in aromatherapy massage.
You can start by:
- Adding a few drops to a warm bath.
- Invest in a diffuser such as this one from Organic Aromas.
- Add a few drops to a tissue and place under your pillow for a natural sleep aid.
6. Feelings are NOT Facts
One of the hardest ones for me to conquer. I down talk myself a lot! Those feelings of low self-esteem, low self-worth, the guilt of past transgressions, and shame are not accurate at all. Negativity produces negative. Those negative thoughts are also producing negative feelings. This one is the most tricky to overcome of the 10 because many of our negative thoughts are automatic, deeply internalized and rooted into our subconscious.
Talk with your doctor. Therapy may also help you overcome some of the negative if that’s what you feel is best for your well-being.
7. Challenge those Negative Thoughts
Keep in mind that thoughts proceed feelings. And as I stated above, negativity produces negative. By this I mean, those negative thoughts also lead to negative feelings which in turn leads to negative emotions, which then produce negative behavior. Ugh! All this negative is cramping my Zen!
So, how do you challenge those feelings, you may be asking?
- Record your thoughts. Pay close attention to when you feel stressed out.
- Write about the feelings that accompany the thoughts.
- Challenge reality! This can be hard since all this negative is surrounding us and we tend to lack objectivity when this happens. Yet, find the proof. Become your own Private Investigator in the thought department. Example: Is there proof behind the feelings? Is there proof you don’t deserve a raise? Were you written up for anything? Given a poor performance review? If the answer was no to any and all of these … there is no sense in the negative thought processes we are having. Get it?
If you are committed to recording your daily thoughts, then you will have something to reference when your past comes knocking. It will help you to recall if you either a) did botch the month end budget or b) nailed it!
8. Gratitude Much?
As suck worthy as your situation might be, there is usually someone in a worse dilemma than you’re in. Remember to be thankful for the positive things in your life. Everything is life is temporary – the suck, the yuck and the muck.
9. Exercise that Nervous Energy out!
Exercise is nature’s anti-anxiety remedy. Fire up those endorphins! Let them be used to benefiting in your mind, body, and soul. Make exercise as much a part of daily living as eating, consuming water and clearing out the negative.
10. Accept Yourself … Anxiety and all!
Whether you’ve inherited the “anxiety gene” from your parents, or anxiety has taken up residence in your lifestyle, accept it rather than fight it. Acceptance has nothing to do with rolling over and giving up. One must work diligently every day to bring calm into your own environment.
Till next time – Keep your Zen on!