If you are anything like me, transitions can sometimes create anxiety (as can big and little life issues alike). Lately, I’ve been staring down my little anxiety demon and, as I do, I’ve realized that I have a few more tools in my tool box to deal with anxiety than I would have consciously thought.
Hence, today’s post is all about quieting anxiety and I’m doing it in list form. And because I love a good list this post will be the first of a sometimes series of lifestyle lists that I’ll feature here on the blog. My hope is that while I get the list started you’ll add your experiences, too, so we can create a users’ guide to different issues and ideas that might come up in our lives. Because, together, I am fairly certain we can hack the heck out of life, solve a whole lotta problems, and hold each other up. So, let’s do that.
Now, 20 ways I’ve learned to quiet the anxiety that sometimes visits my heart or stomach, in no particular order other than how these thoughts popped into my head…
1. Sigh. I love a good sigh. There is just something about audibly forcing breath out that is soothing to me so when the anxiety is small and I just need a little minor adjustment, I sigh it out.
2. Move. Getting outside (or to a gym) and moving my body really does release some feel-good chemicals that counter my anxiety. It also helps that music is therapeutic and I usually move to music and that if I am running, it takes so much effort and concentration for me to keep going that I can’t really dive into what is stressing me out. I have to shelf it for a bit and that is always a good thing. Also in this category of both movement and music goodness? Dancing it out.
3. Do yoga. There is just something about practicing actual yoga that brings that wired energy down while reminding you that you can practice yoga in your everyday life. Moreover, yoga offers powerful perspective and release.
4. Laugh. Sometimes what we most need is to take our head out of the situation that is making us anxious and one of the best ways to do that is by doing something that will make you laugh. Maybe it is having an impromptu wicked dance party. Maybe it is watching a marathon of How I Met Your Mother. Whatever makes you laugh, do it.
5. Read. One of the things I have realized about my anxiety is that sometimes I just need to change the topic of conversation in my head. Many of these tools are about doing just that and one of those tools is one that I have relied on since I was a wee girl– reading. If the book is absorbing enough, I can forget my woes for a bit or sometimes the book I’ve chosen is about helping me to deal with said woe.
6. Go outside. Sometimes one of the best solutions is a change of location. Just going outside, laying in the grass if you can and staring up at the great big sky can be a very powerful perspective shifter.
7. Practice your boundaries. If interactions, situations, or responsibilities are causing your anxiety issues, it is time to practice boundaries. Take care of you by taking the poisons out of your life.
8. Say no. Sometimes, when we are feeling anxious, we just need our world to get smaller. Say no for a bit to every request that catches your breath when it comes your way.
9. Say yes. And sometimes what we most need is a change of location, a new challenge, a compelling experience. At those times, say yes.
10. Call your person. Who is the person in your life that you can just complain to and know that it’ll be okay on the other side? She or he won’t hold it against you; they’ll still love you, etc? Whoever it is, hit the speed dial. Which brings us to the next tool…
11. Claim it. I find anxiety diminishes when I call it out, when I just say, “Hey, I am feeling really nervous about this and I know that there is no way around it but through but, boy, is it tying up my stomach in knots and here is why.” Because there is already stuff I inherently know about the situation and if I can just claim it, I gain an edge.
12. Ask for what you need. Whenever I am hitting a really busy period, I make sure that I figure out what support I need to go through it and I ask for it. Maybe I need BF to handle bath time or breakfast. Maybe I need my brother or sister to do something for me. Maybe I need help from a friend. Whatever I need, I ask for it. People want to be helpful, letting them know how they can help is a gift to both of you.
13. Practice self-care. An anxious time is no time to throw your self-care out the window and, yet, that is what so many of us do. Oh, I don’t have time to do XYZ thing that I love or that I need or that makes me feel cared for or together because I have to do all this other crap instead. Well, that is no way to live. So when you are anxious, turn up the self-care instead of turning it down.
14. Hug. Sometimes hugging it out makes all the difference. We call it imprint at our house. I’ll just look at BF and say, “I need some imprint.”
15. Do something for someone else. Another go to solution for me is supporting someone else. So, go volunteer, mentor, visit a neighbor with some home cooked goodness or flowers. Just spread love and joy and calm comes back.
16. Make plans. Sometimes our anxiety comes because we are daunted by something. If that’s the case, tackle it. Make a plan for how you can master or execute it and then work your plan.
17. Get some sleep. Bed down, count sheep, and know that it is quite possible that you will feel better about things in the morning.
18. Breathe. Sighing is satisfying, yes, but a big ole’ deep breath can also do the trick. Breath in, deeply, and out, audibly.
19. Count. When I am really fixating on the anxiety, I will sometimes use this little trick to force myself to fixate on something else. Count the cracks in the sidewalks, the slats on blinds, the spots on a ceiling, anything that will absorb your mind for a bit and create some quiet and a little innocuous rhythm for you.
20. Nourish yourself. Give your self good fuel: lots of water to drink, some good, nutrient dense food to eat. There’s nothing like giving your body what you need to remind you that you can take care of you and, bonus, good food makes you feel good.
And an extra: Call your doctor. If the anxiety persists, you might have more than just a little life-induced nerves. It might be that there is some brain chemistry-induced anxiety going on, too, which is nothing to be ashamed of (anxiety is NEVER anything to be ashamed of. In fact, when I feel my stomach flip or my heart race, I just remind myself that that is my body’s way of telling me something really matters to me and how awesome is it that we have emotions, passions and loves?). And there is no need to live with severe anxiety every single day. There are many different modalities available to support you to move through your anxiety and you deserve to know what they are, test what works, and live a life that allows you joy and possibility.
Now, it is your turn. What are your solutions for quieting anxiety? Do any of them look like the list above? Different? Let’s get a nice guide to quieting anxiety going.