Anxiety can be one of the most difficult things to deal with. And a very difficult thing to talk about. When our minds are anxious, it seems impossible to be able to think clearly in order to manage the anxiety.
So what can we do? Try to introduce these tips into your daily life, soon they will become habit and your anxiety will fade away.
Replace anxious thoughts
Start to watch your thoughts. If you can be a witness of your thoughts, you can better understand what kind of thoughts are popping up and making your feel anxious. When our minds are so busy and chaotic, it can be difficult to know what`s going on but you have the power to control every thought. This will take practice, it will be difficult to begin but you have the strength to overcome your anxiety. When you notice an anxious thought creeping in, catch it and stop it and replace it with a positive thought. For example, if you start to think “ I am feeling very nervous and uneasy “, replace that thought with something more uplifting like “ I feel safe and calm and everything is great “. You can even smile to yourself and tell your body that you are feeling calm.
Breath is boss
Our breath is one of the most powerful tools that we have been given. Our breath and our minds are connected. We can literally calm our minds and relax our bodies simply by breathing slowly and deeply. Again, with practice, this will become easier and more powerful. Breathe with awareness. When you start to notice your breath, you may notice that you are taking short shallow breaths into the top of your chest. This is a tense, slightly anxious breath. Try to take a full deep breath in through your nose, fill your lungs up and exhale out through your mouth and feel a big release. Try this a few more times and you feel more relaxed instantly. Deep breathing activates our parasympathetic nervous system, the system that slows the heart rate and relaxes our muscles.
7-2-11 Relaxing breath
This is a beautiful calming breath. 7-2-11 might sound like a grocery shop but this is the timing of your breath. On the inhale, we inhale quietly through the nose for the count of 7, retaining or holding the breath for the count of 2 and the releasing on the exhale to the count of 11 with a “whooooosh” sound out of the mouth. This exercise is like a natural sleeping tablet, it will completely relax the nervous system. It might take a couple of times to figure out the timing but the more you practice, the more power you will gain. Practice it every day for 4-8 rounds. This breathing technique can be your go to calming device whenever you need it.
Fuel your system
Eating well is key to your body and mind functioning properly. We need to fuel our systems much like our car needs petrol to move. When we our stressed and under pressure, your body needs nourishment even more. Eating `grounding` foods like oats and bananas will provide a great slow energy release. Avoid stimulants like caffeine, sugar or fast foods, they will only create a spike and dip in your energy levels making you feel more anxious. Try to replace coffee with water or herbal teas and perhaps drink chamomile tea in the evening for extra calming benefits. Introduce it slowly into your daily routine and you will soon enjoy it more than your coffee crutch! If you feel quite low in energy, perhaps get a blood test to check if you are deficient in any vitamins or minerals that may be vital to help you feel calm.
Move your body
Exercise is key to releasing tension and stress out of the body. It is perfect when you are feeling anxious to try and release all that adrenal built up. After exercising, you will release endorphins and happy hormones like Serotonin. The most effective and natural way to boost serotonin is by exercising daily. The stress hormones like Cortisol will reduce and you will begin to feel happy and relaxed. Pick an exercise or two that suits you and your lifestyle. If you can get outdoors, even better, a brisk walk, a run, a cycle or a hike. If you how low motivation, join a group or ask a friend to do it with you a few times a week.
Otherwise, Yoga, Pilates, swimming, boxing, anything that will get moving and this will help you to get outside your head. Creating these new habits will create the new healthy, happy life that you want to live.
Sleep like a baby
This is easier said than done when your mind is noisy and your body is tense. Creating a routine before bed will help, like dimming the lights and lighting candles. Try to replace night-time TV, phones and internet with a book or a bubble bath with essential oils, the less light and noise stimulation the better. A meditation or relaxation music may help your body to relax if you need some background noise. When you do get into bed, Lye down and start to tell your body to relax, starting with your forehead and your eyes all the way down to your toes. Go slowly and hopefully you will be asleep before the end. You will need a good night sleep to replenish and restore your body after an anxious tense day.
Sinead Mc Kiernan is the founder of LoveYoga.eu She is a full-time yoga teacher based in the West of Ireland and hosts yoga retreats in Europe. Sinead is an artist, committed tea-drinker and only a 60% Yoga stereotype. For more information visit loveyoga.eu