Anxiety is a normal, useful emotion; that is when it’s protecting us from danger.
Although uncomfortable, we can live with anxiety in small, infrequent doses.
However, living in a constant state of anxiety is not useful; we’re not in need of protecting 24/7.
And, the hormones that produce anxiety are toxic to the body in large doses over time.
Likewise, living with persistent anxiety can be horribly uncomfortable and painful.
Some of the common symptoms of chronic anxiety can include body tremors, shakes, panic attacks, sweating, headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, increased heart rate, loss of appetite, and lack of sleep.
Whether you seek assistance for your anxiety from a provider, medication, or alternative resources, discovering effective ways to relieve anxiety and increase your emotional resilience is important to your overall health and wellness.
Anxiously Seeking Relief
Anxiety has definitely knocked me to my knees in sheer panic and taken my breath away.
Honestly, I’ve held onto my legs during body tremors that I believed would swallow me whole.
Likewise, I’ve felt as if my heart was going to beat right out of my chest while my stomach twist into nauseating knots.
Desperate for relief, I resorted to some pretty unhealthy ways of coping; and yet, my anxiety continued…and actually increased.
Talking with a counselor helped, and yet, I never felt prepared to self-talk my way out the overwhelming panic and flood of emotion.
Tentatively, I tried medication, and although it did give me some relief, eventually it numbed all of my emotions.
Determined to crack the anxiety code, I dove into the research, read the reports, and explored the various treatments.
I studied the biological, neurological, and psychological causes of anxiety, and trust me, I’m not debating any of it.
Deeper dives into the research revealed differences in brain functioning between people with higher than normal anxiety and those with normal anxiety, and that even though our brain might be hard-wired for more anxiety than average brains, studies suggest effective, alternative ways to ease the symptoms of anxiety while changing the chemistry of the brain.
In other words, because anxiety starts in our brain, the brain is also where relief can begin.
Because of the brain’s plasticity, or capacity to change and adapt, strategies that alter the brain’s chemistry and structure can lead to anxiety relief.
Medication also targets the brain’s chemistry; however, for some people, like me, the side effects are as uncomfortable as the anxiety.
How To Relieve Anxiety: 3 Simple Ways
Three ways proven to relieve anxiety and influence brain chemistry that are also part of my own anxiety relief protocol are meditation, movement, and mindset.
As little as 3-5 minutes of daily meditation is proven to relieve mental and emotional distress and care for the mind.
More important is to create a meditation practice that works for you.
I use guided and unguided meditation styles.
My go-to meditation app is Calm.
However, I recommend experimenting with all the meditation options available until you find your sweet spot.
If you’re new to meditation, ease into it by closing your eyes and noticing your breathing; inhale and exhale slowly.
As thoughts will come and go, watch them as you would the clouds drift through the sky.
If your mind wanders off into anxious chatter, that’s okay; gently bring it back to your breathing without judgment.
You can also add a mantra such as, “I am calm,” or “I am peace,” or “I’m okay.”
The body and brain love movement…and unless you choose to join a gym or studio, it’s relatively free.
When we move our bodies, we release an array of calming hormones that settle down our nervous system while caring for our brain.
Likewise, when we move our mind and body are fully connected while regulating our emotions.
Experts recommend 30 minutes of aerobic and non-aerobic movement three times a week.
Choose movement that you love, look forward to and can commit to doing several times a week.
Dancing, yoga, hiking, walking, swimming, cycling, jogging, playing outside with your kids or pets, or participating in team sports.
Developing your mindset is ongoing and lifelong; and like meditation and mindfulness, a variety of ways exist to evolve your mindset.
My favorite is consciously questioning my thoughts or mental inquiry.
By becoming the curious observer of our thoughts, we interrupt the negative thought patterns that cause us to feel mentally defeated and emotionally overwhelmed and anxious.
Start with writing down every negative thought in your mind.
Look at the thoughts carefully and ask yourself, “Are these thoughts true?” “How do these thoughts make me feel and act?” “Why am I thinking these thoughts?” “What might be different if I didn’t think these thoughts?”
Repeat daily or when consumed with negative thoughts and beliefs.
Consequently, since incorporating these 3 simple strategies into my lifestyle, I’m calmer, more at ease, and rarely experience painful or uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety.
In addition, I also journal regularly, drink calming teas, use essential oils, eat clean, get a monthly massage, and go outside as much as possible.
What do you do to reduce your anxiety? What simple practices bring you the most relief?