Anxiety and depression are endemic in Western culture. As a society, we don't sleep well, we don't eat nourishing diets, we work long, stressful hours and we don't take vacations. If you're not able to get away from it all and need relief fast, here are some tips for you to help you relax, reset and rejuvenate.
1) Acceptance in the moment.
Recognize that if you are suffering, you are either reliving the painful past or thinking of a fearful future. Accepting the present moment, that you are where you are, will help you to become focused in the moment and on what you have the power to do. Think of what you have control over and release the rest. This will also calm you down and allow you to make much better decisions.
I know this sounds too simple and somewhat cliche, but taking 3 slow and deep breaths will help to reset your mood and spark your sympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" system. Another trick is to slowly roll your tongue in and out of your mouth, past your lips, as you in and exhale, which also helps to calm your nervous system quite nicely.
3) Release any assumptions you may have made.
We are all such experts in making stuff up that we could all have our Masters degree in the topic. Take a look at what you are making up. Is it TRUE? As in, is it a 1000% Universal Truth that this thing is happening? Or is this just a lie you're telling yourself that's generating your anxiety? More often than not, yep, you are lying to yourself. Yes, we're all terrible liars. Sometimes you just need more information about what's going on. So, ask. Do not assume anything.
4) Take control of your mind.
When we are in panic mode, we are more than likely caught up in our thoughts. There's so much noisy chatter, and we can feel like a victim to its messages. It can be easy to forget that we are in charge of our thoughts. Yes, YOU are the BOSS of your THOUGHTS. What follows may sound a little cuckoo, but it works. When I assess what thoughts I'm telling myself and I find them to be untrue or unkind, I apologize to myself first and foremost, for scaring myself or for the mean thoughts, which always seems to help. Then, I tell my thoughts what to do, sometimes I just thank them for sharing and ignore them, other times I have to be more firm and tell them that it is not okay to tell myself those things. Other times, I give these negative thoughts new assignments, like solving world hunger or curing cancer and ask them to report back when they've got the answers.
5) It's okay to bargain.
Sometimes we need to bargain with ourselves to calm down. I used to get terrible anxiety from flying because I felt so out of control, not to mention all of those horrible movies, the news, people's travel horror stories, etc, etc were enough to put me into a full blown panic. What I finally realized is that I only have control over what I have control over, and if I got onto that plane, I was only in control of me. I decided to allow myself, if and when the time comes, to have a total freak out meltdown panic spasm. Otherwise, it just wasn't a good use of my time or energy to torture myself with thoughts about things that weren't actually happening. Plus, it only ruined my travel experience. These days, I relax, listen to my Enya playlist and bring plenty of juicy things to read with me. Now, I love flying.
If you're reading my blogs, you'll notice some themes here. Surrender is a big one. When we argue with reality, we suffer. When we try to control and manipulate things, we suffer. If you're feeling anxious, what are you holding onto? What is it that you could really let go of? Usually when we let go of outcomes, the anxiety goes away. If we decide to stay present and learn from the situation and to be perfectly imperfect, the anxiety goes away.
7) Make a plan.
You know yourself pretty well, and if you know that you are prone to anxiety, take a look at the situations that are causing you anxiety when you are in a good place. We all know our brains are mush when we're anxious, so take the time on a really good day to decide your plan of action for when you are in that situation again that causes you anxiety. Will you involve a friend to ground you? Call your coach (hint, hint)? Or make sure that you're well prepped for that event so that you are prepared? Getting plenty of rest and food and planning ahead will make everything else that's outside of your control way less frightening.
8) Let go of performance mentality.
When we think about success and performance, we think about tangible numbers, competition and either failure or winning. It is truly either win or lose and that never feels good. In fact, this is what can generate most of the anxiety we experience day to day. Do we measure up? If you can let go of performing well, which puts you right into your fearful mind and egoic thinking, you can focus on being in the moment, learning and growing. Focusing on performance is so anxiety provoking for most of us that it can actually sabotage success. Ironic, no? Bruce D. Schneider of iPEC Coaching puts it so well, I'm just going to quote him: "You cannot make a mistake, there's nothing that can go wrong and no matter what you do, you will become better the next day."
9) Go deeper.
When you've practiced some of these steps for a significant length of time and you find that there's still a great deal of underlying anxiety, it may be a good idea to dig deeper. Who do you surround yourself with? How are you taking care of yourself? A huge contributor to anxiety can be diet. If your intestinal microbiome is out of balance, your good bacteria are not able to make the precursors needed for your brain to create dopamine, serotonin or GABA (feeling good hormones) which means you're less resilient and you're not feeling so hot. If you're eating a lot of sugar, (i.e. anything that breaks down into sugar quickly like grains, dairy, starches, syrups, sauces and sugary drinks, yes, even fruit juice) your gut may also be under a lot of stress. When you aren't getting the nutrients you really need, the outcome can directly effect your nerves. Stress can also originate from the unconscious mind, so it's always good to get support from a therapist to look for the root cause of your anxiety. If you're looking to integrate more mindfulness steps into your daily routine, or targeting some big day-to-day stressors, consider hiring a coach to make some lasting changes in how you manage your lifestyle to overcome stress and anxiety.
Hope this helps!
P.S. I offer complimentary power breakthrough sessions, click on the link below to learn more and get a free 1-on-1 session with me.