Today I want to shed some light on what I think the root of anxiety is and I’m sharing my 5 practical ways to reduce anxiety fast! Regardless of your age, gender or income bracket, none of us are immune to the occasional anxious or stressed out feelings.
Life is moving fast these days. If we’re not careful, we can think our way into a state of mind that’s not making us feel good. I think today more than ever, we need to have practical ways to reduce these feelings as soon as they come up.
What exactly is Anxiety?
The formal definition of anxiety is this:
A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
If you read that definition closely, you can see that what is causing the problem is worrying about the future. I’ve heard it put that depression is thinking too much about the past and anxiety is too much into future. We aren’t worried so much about what IS happening but what CAN happen. See the difference?
We are afraid of the future but it’s impossible to deal with situations that haven’t even happened yet. And if you really stop to think about it, how much of the stuff we worry about ever actually ends up happening? Probably very little.
Thoughts Create Emotions
I believe that we can’t have an emotion without a thought first. If we have a thought that creates fear in our system, our bodies will create certain chemicals and the end result can be a negative emotion. Of course, our subconscious minds control the majority of what we think and believe.
We’re all basically running a program. Just like our computers run on software, so do our minds. Most of the programs we’re running were installed from our past experiences.
I’ve heard it said that almost 90% of our thoughts are the same ones we had the day before and most of THOSE are negative. Yikes! We can have a negative loop of thoughts that just keeps playing in the background of our minds without even realizing it. No wonder people are anxious!
(You can see my other post, Answers for an Anxiety Culture here)
Being a Good Gatekeeper
I’m a BIG believer in being a good “gatekeeper” of your mind. What does that mean? Just like you wouldn’t let any random strangers come into your home and destroy things, we should protect our minds this same way but even MORE!
Any time you watch news that disturbs your peace you’re not being a good gatekeeper. When we watch movies or read books that create fear or distrust, you’re not being a good gatekeeper. If you hang out in places that aren’t healthy for you, being surrounded by people who aren’t good influences, you aren’t being a good gatekeeper!
When I got serious about being a good gatekeeper, I became less tolerant of people, places and situations that disturbed my peace and harmony. If something was causing me to feel anger or fear, I took note and started deliberately deleting these things from my life. Our peace of mind is our ULTIMATE responsibility. We can’t always control what happens around us but we CAN make better choices of what we expose ourselves to.
5 Practical Ways to Reduce Anxiety
These are some skills, techniques and practical things I advocate to help you with anxious or stressful feelings. They’re easy to do and can be effective immediately.
Please be aware that I’m not trying to address any formal anxiety or any medical condition that anyone may have. I am certainly not a health care provider and don’t claim to be. These are just tips for the average person.
1. Deep Breathing – This is probably the quickest and easiest way I know to reduce stress. Deep breathing can help you calm down super fast. If you feel stress kicking in, take 5-10 deep breaths. Really focus on filling up your lungs and watching your diaphragm expand. Focus on the inhale and exhale. This helps us get present and focused on what’s happening NOW, not the future event we’re creating fear about.
2. Change your “state” – This idea is about changing your state of mind. Typically when we’re letting our minds “run us” we’re locked into a trance of stressful thoughts that can be hard to break free from. We need to change something. Stand up and walk outside. Get in your car and go for a drive. Jump up and down. Lift your arms up to the sky and look up. Watch funny YouTube videos that make you laugh. Do ANYTHING that gets you out of the trance.
3. Guided Meditation – By now, most of us have tried meditation in some form or fashion, right? But when you’re mind is racing, sometimes it helps to have someone else tell you what to do. I find guided meditation to be helpful since it’s giving our minds direction and taking our focus off our stress causing thoughts. I’ve found some good ones on YouTube like this one here. Don’t forget to wear headphones for this.
4. Try Reading Consciousness Expanding Books – Whether you’re a spiritual person or just someone who wants to understand themselves better, reading is a GAME-CHANGER! I have found that reading consciousness expanding material has changed my life! The more I truly understand who I am and why I’m here, the less I allow negative thoughts to take hold and frighten me. New awareness creates confidence. Some books that have changed me forever are:
5. Tune In to Your Senses – Our 5 senses are what connect us to the physical world. Tuning in to what is going on around us helps ground our minds. It helps us get “traction”, so to speak. Try this “grounding exercise” when you need to calm down:
One other way to use the senses to calm your nerves is with essential oils. I’m sure many of you are already using these for calming and soothing your senses. I like to keep some lavender beside my bed and inhale if I’m having trouble sleeping. Or I like having something like lemon, neroli or other citrus oils to help perk me up in the morning. Some of my favorites are:
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Also check out my other post: Answers for an Anxiety Culture
For more Ways to Reduce Anxiety check out this short video:
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