Top 20 Strategies for Anxiety by David McGue, MS, LHMC on August 14, 2011
1. Breathing Exercises
Take a moment to close your eyes and focus only on your breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose. Feel your diaphram move up into your ribcage and extend your belly outward as you inhale. Slowly push out your breath as you exhale through your mouth. Feel the stress being breathed out of your body. It is no longer a part of you. Each breath should take 6 seconds to complete. Spend 3 seconds slowly inhaling through your nose and the other 3 seconds slowly exhaling through your mouth. Take 5-10 breaths like this and you’ll instantly feel more relaxed. Try it in H-1 traffic!
3. Listen to Music
Sit back and relax to your favorite tunes. I don’t mean the fast paced music, but more like something you hear on Hawaiian KINE – 105.1. If you’re feeling nostalgic, put on something that will transport you to another place in time. Escape and think of nothing but the music. Try to play songs with a positive or uplifting message. It’s up to you - just enjoy and have fun.
5. Meditate on Gratitude
Take a few minutes to think about all the things you are grateful for. It could be as simple as feeling grateful for the food in your fridge or the way your dog loves you. Take the time to appreciate all the gifts you have in life and how lucky you are to have them. When you show thanks for the good in your life, more good will attract itself to you.
Although Cardio Exercise like running or bike riding is more effective for relieving anxiety, just getting to the gym in general and burning off some steam is a wonderful way to feel better. Exercise doesn’t just provide a physical release. You’re also providing a mental release as well. By exercising, you counterbalance your negative thoughts with a positive feeling that you are taking steps towards improving your health. In effect, you cast aside worry and calm your mind with the natural high of working out. For a coach on Oahu, check www.TimMarr.com.
7. Get Rid of the Clutter
Feng Shui is the art of creating a serene and relaxing home. Part of this study involves clearing the clutter from your environment. Clutter creates a sense of confusion and chaos. By cleaning up your home, you’re pretty much clearing out the clutter from your mind. You may feel so much better after doing just a little bit of housekeeping. For example, you may want to like get rid of old clothes. If you haven’t worn them in a year, then they’re just taking up space and can be given away.
9. Go for a Walk
Nothing clears my head like a nice walk. This is even better if you have beautiful backgrounds of nature to stroll through. As you walk, think about the rhythm of your body as you stride from one step to the next. It’s calming to focus on your breathing. Concentrate on each breath and empty your thoughts as you move along. My favorite places to walk on Oahu are Magic Island (south shore), Ehukai Beach Park (north shore), Yoke’s (west side), and Kahana Bay (east side).
Connecting certain fragrances to an emotionally uplifting situation will trigger a relaxation response. For example, try lighting some of your favorite incense or fill your home with the aroma of potpourri while you sit back and meditate your worries away. If those aromas are too strong for you, you can buy a less pungent smelling Glade air freshener. They just plug into any outlet and you can adjust the amount of fragrance that they release. I personally love using Glade plug-ins, the lavender one is my favorite.
12. Take a Hot Bath
Let your muscles relax and sit in peace as the water calms and soothes you. Light some candles to create and even more tranquil environment. Play music to heighten the effect. There’s no rule that says you can’t turn your bathroom into a spa if only for an hour. A bonus to this is buying special soaps, shaving creams or shampoos that will further your pampered “timeout”. Treat this as a special treat and really go all out.
13. Avoid Caffeine
This may sound like a bit of a tough one. I myself used to be a bit of a caffeine addict. And guess what? This was right around the same time my anxiety was at its worst. Sound like a coincidence? Not really. It’s easy to think that caffeine heightens you mood. Caffeine is a stimulant. But the crash that you get from a strong caffeine high is enough to bring on anxiety and depression. So do yourself a favor and start weening yourself off the caffeine train. A replacement may be green tea. Also, apples have been proven to actually wake you up just as much as a cup of coffee in the morning.
15. Eat Chocolate
Chocolate releases phenylethylamine in the brain. This so called “chocolate amphetamine” causes changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels leading to feelings of excitement and alertness. It works like amphetamines to increase mood and decrease depression. It’s been said that chocolate creates a feeling of “being in love”. But if you needed some extra convincing to eat a piece of chocolate, know that it’s been proven to relieve anxiety. Why do we always send chocolate-covered mac nuts to relatives and friends but hardly ever eat them ourselves?
Sex is healthy, good for the mind and body. It rejuvenates you and makes you feel completely alive. This anxiety reliever should not be overlooked. When you are completely swept away by the love of your partner, you forget about all of life’s stresses. Take a vacation from the anxiety in your mind. Instead, fill your head with the thoughts of love for another. Then indulge yourselves and think of nothing but the moment.
18. Repeat a Mantra
As the Law of Attraction States, thoughts are things. So when you think negatively, negative things will come into your life. Conversely, when you think positively, positive things will come into your life. Having a Mantra is a great way to control your thought pattern and relieve anxiety. When you’re feeling anxious, have a mantra or short prayer memorized that you can repeat in the moment. Everyone’s mantra will be different and tailored to their own anxiety but the main point is you’re sending yourself a positive message. You can make your mantra whatever you choose. Make it something that speaks to your mentality and comforts your soul. Repeat your mantra in times of doubt and confusion. Hold firm that it is the truth. Your mantra will be your relaxing touchstone.
19. Eat Your Favorite Food
I’m not telling you to go out and binge eat to get over your anxiety. Obviously that’s not a healthy strategy. However, you are allowed to indulge in your favorite comfort foods when things get particularly stressful. My comfort food is ahi poke. I like it when it’s super fresh and the Waipio Gentry Foodland puts hardly any onions in it – that’s why it’s my favorite. What’s yours?