Anxiety easily creeps in as you start to feel overwhelmed and under-resourced to live the life you truly want. Anxious feelings can be cumulative. You can become anxious in situations and circumstances and, over time, this anxiety can build up and take hold. However, the opposite is also true: you can introduce habits to help you reduce your stress and overwhelm which, over time, can also help to reduce your anxiety
Being present and let go
When we feel anxious we are either ruminating over the past or we worry about what is going to happen. But life happens only in the moment and it is very useful to remind us – particularly when anxiety arises – to come back into the moment. Take a deep breath and focus on the moment, the noises, sensations, your surroundings. Just be – and imagine to let go of your sorrows. Focus on your breathing for a few moments and imagine when you breath in that fresh energy and benevolence enters your system. When you breath out imagine that all negativity leaves you with your out breath. When we breath deeply it helps us to relax and to ground us in the moment and then there is less space for anxiety.
This habit works literally and metaphorically.
Literally: If your environment is cluttered and messy then it may make you anxious. You’d like a more structured setting around you, but sifting through the objects and paperwork you’ve accumulated over the years can feel stressful and emotional. The process of clearing your clutter is fundamentally a healthy one. You may have to approach it in stages, though. If the thing taking up space isn’t adding to your life, and you don’t love it, then let it go. Pass it on to someone who needs it more. Do this one drawer at a time.
Metaphorically: An anxious mind likes nothing more than to cling on to hurts, slights, mistakes, fears and what ifs. During the day you may find yourself anxiously ruminating on what someone has said and done to you, or what you may have done to someone else. How does this serve you? It doesn’t. This old habit simply takes up energy that you could be using more creatively somewhere else. Let the thought go.
Write things down
This habit links to letting things go. Writing things down gets the thought or feeling out of your head and onto the page. The page can then hold the difficult feeling so you don’t have to. It frees up space in your brain for other things. You may want to write things down in a ‘worry journal’ – a book to hold all your anxieties and fears. Even writing a to-do list will help with the anxiety of forgetting things – and you’ll have the pleasure of ticking things off. Just don’t overload the list so you can’t beat yourself up for not completing everything.
Do a physical activity just for fun
A powerful antidote for anxiety is to take yourself out of your head and into your body. If you don’t already have an exercise routine, then we suggest getting yourself one. It doesn’t have to be a 10-mile hike every day. Pick something that feels like fun – just for the sake of it. It will not only boost your mood through the exercise, but you might start to take yourself a little less seriously.
Trust your intuition
Your intuition tends to know stuff before you do. It all depends on how good your relationship with your intuition is. Do you trust your gut feeling, or override it with rational alternatives? Do you dismiss that nagging sense of something not being right, and go along with it anyway? Trusting your intuition means tuning into your inner wisdom. It generally communicates through hunches and ‘gut feelings’. Try listening to those feelings without acting on them at first. Note the outcome (i.e. was your gut right or not) and follow those feelings next time. If you’re led by your intuition then you will trust life more, and will feel way less anxious about what’s right for you.
If you feel overwhelmed therapy might be an good option.