Putting together a little list for yourself of the kind of things that you feel could work for you, can be useful. Because when anxiety has taken charge it can be incredibly difficult to access that clear, wise, creative part of our brain that would otherwise be really helpful in that situation.
In the list below, you'll find 21 simple ways you can reduce anxiety in your life. I encourage you to pick and choose whatever personally feels good and resonates with you. And perhaps even to have a think and see what other kinds of things might help you re-set next time you're feeling anxious and strung-out.
1. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. Just breathe... Bringing your awareness to the breath, drawing your inhalation in through your nose, into your chest, and down into your navel (imagine filling up a balloon in your belly) interrupts the stress response, and sends ripples of instant calm throughout your nervous system!
2. Practice Acceptance, and just.. Letting go. Of whatever you can, whenever you can... Even if it just means letting go of a particular stressful thought, for even only a minute... It still counts!
Resisting what IS in our lives creates a physiological stress response in our bodies. It's like when the river (that is, life) is flowing one way, and we are busy busting our chops, trying to swim upstream against the tide, or clinging to the riverbank; but if we can learn to just let go a little, find acceptance in what is (our feelings, the situation...), there's an almost-instant relief to be found in just that shift, alone. We can then stop struggling, and deal with what's on our plate from a different, calmer space.
3. Nourish your nervous system and adrenal's with wholesome food choices. Top up on your dark leafy greens, healthy fats, quality protein sources (a steak of oily fish or bowl of dahl, for example), and root veggies, which have a grounding effect. Also, take care to chew your food well.
4. Prioritise. When things seem overwhelming, take a minute to (re)consider what is most important and at the very top of your agenda, and focus on just doing that...
5. Be in Nature. Even if just for 5 minutes. Get outside, be in the elements, and bring awareness to all of your senses. Feel the sunshine or the fresh, crisp air on your skin; notice the colour of the sky or the shapes in the clouds; listen to the sound of birds singing or acorns crunching underneath your feet. Let your eyes soak up all the green they possibly can.
6. Nip it in the bud. If there's something worrying you, and you can’t put your finger on it, pop your creative and strategic hats on, identify the issue, and do whatever is in your power right now to send it packing.
7. Ground yourself. Go and be in the garden; pull out a few weeds, plant something new; or simply take off your shoes and sit on the grass for a while. It's hard to stay too anxious in this space.
8. Tune in. Take your awareness past all the frenzy, and feel the sensations in your heart, throat and solar plexus regions... Can you feel tightness, knots, churning, butterflies, sinking, pulling...? What sensations do you get in these physical centres, when you're feeling anxious? Just bringing awareness to it can be enough to help the energy to dissipate and clear.
9. Listen up. Play some feel-good tunes or listen to a guided meditation, and let them help you to feel better.
10. Get physical. Discharge anxiety physically and get your feel-good endorphins flowing. Try walking, riding, jogging, rowing, swimming, lifting weights, dancing, stretching, yoga, pilates, kick-boxing, however you like to get your body moving.
11. Tea time. Have a cup of herbal tea. Chamomile, Passionflower, Valerian and Hops are all great for calming and relaxing the nervous system.
12. Burn or vaporise some soothing, uplifting essential oils such as Lavender and Peppermint, Sandalwood or Bergamot. They have the power to benefit your emotions by directly stimulating the limbic system.
13. Bring your creativity into play. Whether it's in a colouring book, painting, playing with kinetic sand, crochet, losing time on Pinterest, cooking up a storm… What gets your creative juices flowing? Being in the "flow" + engaging your creativity are two major anxiety busters!
14. Take time out. Book a holiday, a weekend away, or even just go on a day trip. Make an opportunity to get out of your usual surrounds, head to the beach, the mountains, the snow, the country or another city; maybe even abroad!
15. Light candles and have a bath (even just a foot bath!). Add a bunch of Epsom salts, and a few drops of your favourite essential oil/s. Tea, book, and music all optional.
16. Choose your thoughts. Take note of the quality of your thoughts/self-talk. Are they helpful? Supportive? Insightful? Critical and judgemental? Irrational?
17. Detach from expectations and outcomes. When we can bring our attention to the present, and relax our minds from particular expectations and outcomes, we can also take a detour from the anxiety and pressure we might have been inadvertently placing on ourselves.
18. Have an early night. Give yourself one of the best gifts of all: An Early Night... Giving your body adequate time to rest and restore at night is a vital part of re-setting the nervous system and encouraging greater resilience (ability to tuck & roll, bend with the wind and bounce back easily). And sometimes just “sleeping on it” really does help.
19. Blow it all off. When it all gets too much and life feels like it's getting on top of you, take a more radical approach to the whole situation; if you need to, take the day off or give yourself an early mark, but take some time out to abandon responsibility and do something that sweetens the deal for you and helps you take your mind of things for a while...
20. Hugs and laughs whether it's a dog, a cat, a human, a gift or your favourite funny movie/TV series. Hugs and laughs are real, good medicine.
21. See your Naturopath to have a chat and get some much-deserved wellness support.
I encourage you to pick and choose whatever personally feels good and resonates with you. And perhaps even to have a think and see what other kinds of things might help you re-set next time you're feeling anxious and strung-out.