Unfortunately, the term anxiety is heard often in recent years. It seems that more people are struggling with anxiety, worry and fear than ever before. Some people feel more anxious in social situations. Others feel worried about the future or are nervous during specific situations like flying or working on a deadline. And many just feel anxious all day long and aren’t even sure where their anxiety stems from.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Even children are affected by anxiety and their parents are at a loss on how to help them, especially if they struggle with anxiety themselves. It appears to be more prominent even with the medical and technological advances we have made. It can be difficult to find a sense of peace throughout the daily chaos and stress.
No matter your age, if you are feeling anxious throughout your day, here are some tips that will help. If it is so severe that it is holding you back in daily life or causing depression, you should seek a professional who can help you further.
Has anyone ever reminded you to take a breath and you realize it's your first time breathing deeply that day? We typically tend to take fast and shallow breaths when we are busy or stressed out. This means we are not sending enough oxygen to our brain, which can make us feel tired and you guessed it! Lead to anxiety. When we remember to take deep breaths, we literally calm down our entire nervous system, which helps to relax our bodies and minds. Try this simple, yet powerful technique that my coaching clients love. Inhale for the count of 5, hold for 5 and exhale for 7. Do this at least 5 times, if possible. You can practice it even longer and close your eyes. This gives you the chance to go within rather than being distracted by all of the stimulation around you.
So many people exercise for physical reasons, but did you know that when you exercise, you are releasing feel-good hormones in the brain? We know it makes us feel good and we want to commit to a consistent exercise routine, but it seems too difficult or exhausting. However, the more you exercise, the more energized, productive and calm you can be during other times. Even if you can't fit in the gym for an hour a day, do some kind of movement that allows you to get into your body and out of your head. Try 20 minutes of stretching poses away from your desk, put on music and dance with your kids while you make dinner, go for a jog with your dog, or put on a 15-minute strength-training
video while you pause your TV show. Once you get up and get moving, you will value the time to stop thinking so much and feel good in your own body. Find a buddy to partner with to keep one another accountable throughout the week.
3. Talk It Out
Often times we feel alone with our anxiety. We may not believe that others understand or can relate to us. It's important not to ignore our feelings and instead to acknowledge and work through them. With anxiety, there typically comes fearful thoughts through the mind. When we hold in our anxiety and don't learn ways to cope or get help, it can make it worse and maybe even turn into a panic attack or depression. It can be beneficial to talk things out with a friend, therapist, coach or teacher when it feels overwhelming. When we talk with someone who understands and listens, it allows us to process and release the emotions so we can feel better It also gives other people permission to speak up about their emotions when they see others doing so. The next time you notice your anxiety creeping up, pick up the phone to call a friend or make an appointment with a professional who you will be comfortable opening up to. Making this time is important to your well-being and future.
It can be extremely helpful to write down how you feel when anxiety begins to take hold of you. Writing will allow you the chance to dig deeper into your feelings and gain a better understanding of it all since it can be hard to do in the moment.
Write down these questions and then take a few minutes to answer them:
What makes me anxious? Is it certain situations, worry/fear, deadlines, etc.?
How does that anxiety manifest in my body and mind? Do you get a stomachache, headache or neck tightness? Do you begin to repeat negative and scary thoughts in your mind?
What does my anxiety hold me back from? Do I skip out on social events or avoid trying new things?
How would I like to feel instead? Peaceful, happy, calm, loved, safe, present, etc.
What helps me to feel that way? Walking, yoga, cooking, dancing, playing, etc.
Spend as much time as you can getting really curious and answering these questions. You may be surprised at what comes up. Then you can shift your anxiety and begin to spend time doing more of what makes you feel better.
Although you may feel like you have to live with anxiety for the rest of your life, these ideas can be helpful to ease your mind. Set time aside every day to naturally reduce your negative feelings. Focus on your wellbeing and notice a difference along the way. Once you commit to this, you will feel less anxious and more at peace in your everyday life, no matter how busy it gets. You will know how to take a step back and do what makes you feel better and also help others.
Shayna Mahoney is a holistic life coach who is passionate about giving women hope to embrace their anxiety and find peace and power within. She combines her background of nutrition, psychology, human development, coaching techniques, Reiki, sense of humor and personal experience to transform how the mind and body are fully connected. She loves to help women reach for their dreams in all areas of life.