I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to go an entire day without worrying. Is that even possible? As a naturally anxious person, I can’t even imagine feeling so carefree that nothing bothered me. And I’m a writer, a profession known for inviting judgment, so you can imagine how the wheels in my head are always spinning. That being said, I’m grateful that my anxiety is manageable and doesn’t dramatically impact my day-to-day life. For many people, however, this is not the case. Some anxiety can be debilitating and life-altering.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18.1% of U.S. adults had any anxiety disorder in the past year. To put it in perspective, that’s 40 million people who suffer from this every day.
Many people practice meditation to relieve anxiety, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re like me, the idea of sitting still and letting go can be stressful in itself. Here are five alternative techniques you can apply today to overcome your anxiety and take back control of your life:
Journal Every Day
Putting your thoughts on paper can help you clarify your feelings and provide a new perspective. Believe it or not, the simple act of writing helps create new neural pathways and literally rewires your brain.
When it comes to anxiety in particular, journaling is beneficial because it helps you identify your triggers. As you review what you wrote, take note of the people and events that left you feeling emotionally drained. By identifying what your triggers are, you can make a conscious effort to minimize or avoid them going forward.
Simplify Your Thoughts
Simplicity is a key component to managing stress and controlling the chaos in our lives. Simplifying your thoughts comes down to processing things as they happen, in a calm, rational way, and focusing on one moment at a time.
Rather than diving headfirst into the drama and emotional chaos, put yourself in the position of the observer. Start focusing on what’s important to you and tune out the rest of the noise.
Your goal is to become so connected to your very basic nature that you can recognize the anxiety for what it actually is. By training your brain to become attuned to what matters and thinking in simpler terms, it will become easier to dismiss negative, anxiety-ridden thoughts.
Numerous studies have shown that repetition is essential to changing neurological patterns. If you can learn to mentally escape to a safe place when your anxiety escalates, it will eventually become a habit.
Close your eyes, plug in your headphones, and imagine a peaceful scene – walking on the beach, through a flower garden, sitting by a fireplace – whatever relaxes you.
When it comes to visualization, it’s important to understand that it’s not one-size-fits-all. By experimenting with different exercises, you can figure out what works best for you. When done repeatedly, visualization can become one of the most valuable tools in your recovery.
Change Your Diet
There is a lot of truth to the saying “you are what you eat.” By modifying your eating habits and becoming physically healthy, you will start to see a positive mental shift.
What to Drink: Water with lemon – lemon juice is proven to treat throat infections, indigestion, strokes and other health conditions. Steer clear of coffee, soda and other caffeinated beverages, which overstimulate the nervous system.
What to Eat: Nuts and berries – blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries contain the most nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Also, walnuts are filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce anxiety and depression.
Spend Time in Nature
Have you noticed that sense of peace you feel after a long walk? Being outdoors is scientifically proven to promote physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing.
The beauty of nature is that you are effortlessly put in the present moment. For example, think about how it feels when you walk on the beach. As you admire the ocean, smell the salty air, and listen to the birds, you become deeply connected to your senses. This is what makes you feel truly alive.