There are so many lifestyle changes you can make that have positive effects on your anxiety levels. You’ve learned that making changes to your physical environment, adding a nice walk to your day and even incorporating calming scents into your surroundings can lessen the tension you feel.
Taking control of your day and looking ahead to schedule time for meeting your goals is another strategy that can make a huge difference in your life. Read on to learn how a day planner can reduce stress and anxiety. Soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without this life-altering tool.
Do you prefer to write things down in a notebook or keep it all in electronic form?
Would your lifestyle fit a small, portable calendar you can take with you everywhere or do you respond best to having a large visual reminder like a desk calendar or whiteboard that hangs on the wall?
Give it some thought and start with what you think will work best. You can always make tweaks to your system later.
Next, you’ll want to get in the nightly habit of creating a to-do list for the following day. This routine has multiple benefits. It lets you create a “brain dump” by getting a lot of the information that’s floating around in your head out on paper. You’ll likely fall asleep faster with fewer small details cluttering your thoughts. You can look ahead and place some of the tasks in time slots, knowing you’ll be able to complete them when it’s best for you. This exercise also lets you feel confident you haven’t forgotten anything important.
Keeping a day planner adds structure to your life. We all know this is important in reducing anxiety and stress. You can add long-term goals to your agenda, as well. This step lets you feel more in control of the direction in which you’re heading and puts you in the proverbial driver’s seat, rather than feeling like you’re at the mercy of fate.
Along this same line of thought, another great way to keep tabs on your time is to write down regular, mundane activities in your calendar ahead of time. Stuff, like doing the laundry, preparing meals for the coming week, study time for your or your child, paying bills and exercising, can be included on your weekly to-dos as a way of easily holding yourself accountable. Stuff’s more likely to get done when it already has its own time slot.
Finally, don’t forget to add leisure time to your schedule. Planning ahead for a night out with friends or even just sitting down to read a good book will bring relaxation and fun to your life. You can clearly see the ways a day planner can lessen your stress and anxiety. Enjoy the process and make it one that fits your lifestyle.
Getting hit by anxiety isn’t a good feeling. In fact, it can be frightening and your first inclination may be to panic and worry, making the anxiety all that much worse. Stop right there! Panicking is the worst thing you can do in this situation.
I’m serious. The best thing you can do when you start to feel the anxiety rising is to take a deep breath and calm yourself down. The problem with fear and anxiety these days is that it is often unfounded, or not nearly as serious as we may think.
Back in the cavemen days, it made a lot of sense to put our bodies and minds on high alert, when we were faced with a threat like a wild boar about to attack. Our life was in danger and we needed to either be ready to fight or run for our lives.
A fast beating heart, increased breathing, and a big boost of adrenalin made sense in those days. There was even a good reason to lose your lunch. But today, when the fear and anxiety is about getting up on stage, being able to make the next car payment, or going on a blind date, those responses aren’t quite as helpful anymore.
When we are in this fight or flight state, it’s hard to look at the situation rationally. We aren’t very good at objectively judging danger and make rational decisions when we are anxious and stressed out. Everything is much worse than it is in this state of mind. That’s why it’s important to start by calming down. And the best way to do that quickly is to just stop and take a deep breath.
You can do this anywhere, anytime.
When you are feeling the anxiety rise, stand or sit comfortably, close your eyes if possible, and slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Repeat a few times until you can feel yourself starting to calm down. We’ll talk more about breathing exercises in a couple of days. Think of this as the simplest version.
As with many things, it becomes easier and more natural the more you practice. Get in the habit of closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths whenever you start to feel a little anxious or wound up. It also helps do this breathing exercise when you first wake up, before you sit down to get to work, and even before bed. Start practicing and keep up with it until it becomes a habit.
Going forward whenever you get anxious or fearful, your first reaction should be to stop and take a deep breath. After that, you should be able to look at the situation more calmly and be better able to judge if there is actually anything to worry about. You’ll also find yourself calm and collected enough to start making a plan and working through whatever issues arise, instead of simply reacting from a feeling of anxiety.
Like many survivors of narcissistic abuse, you may have noticed that the frequency and severity of your anxiety episode increase greatly when you’re under a lot of stress. While we can’t eliminate or control all stressful situations, there’s a lot to be said for reducing stress. That, in turn, reduces your overall anxiety, eliminating even more stress. You see where I’m going with this.
When it comes to anxiety and stress, you have two choices. You can allow the two to enforce each other and keep spiraling up to make it worse and worse. Or you can break the vicious cycle be actively working on calming down and distressing. This will start to lower both your level of stress and your level of anxiety.
The good news is that what you do to lower your stress will likely also start to lower your anxiety at the same time. Much of what I’ve shared and will continue to share throughout the rest of the challenge to relieve anxiety, will also do wonders when it comes to reducing your stress. Start with the simple breathing exercises I’ve shared. Going for daily walks will also help with stress.
Of course, tackling what’s causing you the stress in the first place is another good strategy. When you notice that you’re feeling more stressed than usual, take a moment to sit down and think about what’s causing it. It’s not always comfortable to dig deep and figure out what’s stressing us out, but once we know, we can start to take a proactive approach towards changing things.
If your bills piling up is stressing you out, sit down and come up with a plan to pay them down. Start cutting your expenses so there’s more left of your paycheck. You may even want to seek professional help to figure it all out and make a plan.
If something at work is stressing you out, talk to your boss, supervisor, or human resources to see what can be done about reducing or removing that stress. If all else fails, consider finding a different job. No matter what’s causing you stress, there’s almost always a way to reduce it. Sometimes it’s simply facing your fear and figuring out exactly what’s going on.
Removing the element of the unknown alone will help cut down on how stressed you feel.
By cutting back on how stressed you are, using the coping techniques I’m sharing to de-stress, and making small changes like eating healthier and making sure you get enough sleep, you can start to break that vicious cycle of stress and anxiety. You’ll feel better and are ready to tackle life, no matter what it throws at you.
We’ve touched on the negative effects caffeine can have on your anxiety a bit already. There is a link between the consumption of caffeine and the worsening of anxiety. Because everyone’s metabolism and physical makeup is different, the issue could be quite noticeable in your or it may not have much of an effect at all. However, because caffeine is a stimulant, it makes sense that it could aggravate your already strong feelings of restlessness and agitation.
Let’s think a little more about the potential relationship between your morning java and the jitters you experience. Then you can decide how whether to drink less.
The stimulant effects of caffeine can lead anyone to feel nervous, shaky or anxious. This is particularly true if you’re not used to consuming it. Also, if you already have an anxiety disorder or are prone to the emotion, drinking excessive amounts of caffeinated beverages and such could actually throw you into a panic attack. This substance stimulates your central nervous system, speeding up bodily functions like metabolism. You may not have known that caffeine actually works to suppress a brain chemical known as adenosine that slows down your nerve cells, making you sleepy. That’s how caffeine works to perk you up.
Some people can be quite sensitive to caffeine. That ordinary small jump in heart rate some people experience due to having a bit of caffeine can send an anxiety sufferer reeling.
If you notice a jittery feeling, headache, intense fear or other such negative sensation when you drink your coffee or eat a chocolate bar, try removing it from your diet to see what happens.
Take note, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that seem even worse than before. Try to wait them out and really notice if your anxiety lessens over time. This could be a potential key to improving your life.
It’s probably a good plan to lessen your daily caffeine slowly, rather than going cold turkey.
Take daily notes detailing how you feel as you remove it from your system. These notes can be motivating when you see evidence that things are improving. Keep moving forward until you’ve had no caffeine for at least a week.
Then continue to avoid it as you monitor your anxiety levels. This experiment should provide you with a lot of insight into how sensitive your body is to the substance. Soon you may find that giving up your favorite caffeinated beverages and treats is well worth feeling less anxious and on edge.
Chances are, you’ll hardly even miss it once you begin to feel better. Lessening your anxiety is an outcome that’s definitely worth a bit of sacrifice.
When you’re anxious for a long period of time, it can be incredibly difficult to focus on anything positive. Just getting through a day is a monumental task at times. So the thought of investing yourself in ways to overcome your anxiety seems downright impossible.
However, as we’ve already seen, taking proactive steps to engage your mind in other things is often exactly what helps to move past anxious thoughts. A focus or belief in a spiritual way of life is one very effective tool for improving your mood. When you find your spirituality, you begin to see things differently and to invest your energies in things that are important to you.
Let me show you how it can work.
First of all, know that you don’t have to belong to one specific religion or to attend worship services in a fixed location with other people. A solitary spiritual practice can be just as effective in helping to manage your stress as formal worship with a group. One of the primary ways that spirituality helps to lessen anxiety is that it places emphasis on something other than yourself.
When you’re preoccupied with your problems, you get stuck in a holding pattern that only intensifies your anxious feelings. Spiritual practice allows you to dedicate your thoughts and actions toward a higher being, God, the Universe, your fellow worshippers or practice-related philanthropies. Any steps to put your energy out into the world is a beneficial one toward overcoming the cycle of negative thinking anxiety can cause.
Spiritual activities and practice can require a great devotion of your time. Even if there’s not a formal time requirement, you’ll likely want to get involved in learning as much as you can about your faith and figuring out the best ways to implement it into your life. Frankly, this time spent creates a wonderful distraction from the nagging pain of anxiety. You’re using your time constructively to better yourself in person and in spirit. Any type of learning or self-growth is actually good for combatting negative and self-destructive emotional patterns.
The concept of faith is one that lends itself well to overcoming distress. Part of the reason anxiousness takes hold of people so strongly is that such thoughts become ingrained in the mind. When you’re focused on anxious thinking, you tend to not believe that things will improve.
Most forms of spirituality are actually based on belief, the belief or faith that there is something greater determining life’s outcome. This type of faith can be one of the most powerful tools in overcoming a negative hold like anxiety. Therefore, taking up a spiritual practice just might make more sense in your pursuit to deal with this dreaded issue than you ever could have imagined.
When you find your spirituality, you’ve embraced a number of actions that help to fight off anxiety. Take some time to explore the process and follow a path that feels right to you.