As you may know, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. In honor of this month, MantraBand has debuted their CharityBand, Self-care isn't Selfish, in support of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). The NAMI organization advocates, raises public awareness, and offers education to individuals and families affected by mental illness. In order to further support and encourage the MantraBand community I’m providing 10 ways to alleviate anxiety. A feeling many of us are familiar with.
As someone who has been coping with anxiety for years, I’ve found ways to cope with it. Feeling anxious is normal and not necessarily a bad thing to feel. Anxiety triggers our bodies fight or flight mode. Which is a reaction we often need for survival if put into a harmful situation. In case you don’t know the exact definition of anxiety, it is the feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an upcoming event or something with an uncertain outcome. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the USA. So, if you ever suffer from anxiety, you are not alone! Here are 10 tips:
1. Move your body
Exercise is recommended for anxiety relief. Did you know exercise is equal in effectiveness to both therapy and medication for managing anxiety? One study of over 3,500 people established that across the world people respond as well to moving their bodies more regularly as they do to the traditional treatment pathway. It doesn’t really matter how you move, just start moving in a way you enjoy. A bonus tip is to end your shower after exercising with a hit of cold water for 30 seconds. This wakes up your nervous system, which helps you feel calmer.
2. Listen to soothing music
It may be simple however listening to soothing music can do wonders for your mind. Listening to the lyrics will help ease your thoughts. Dancing around your room will remind you to be present and stop worrying about the future. Doing this will also bring a smile to your face. The optimism will decrease your stress levels. Smiling is one of the best ways to instantly lighten your mood. So, remember to smile and find one thing to feel grateful for in that present moment.
3. Connect with someone you love
We are social creatures. All humans need a tribe. We crave a sense of community, belonging and connection. This is deeply linked to our survival instincts. Connect with your friends, co-workers or family. Reaching out for support when you feel stressed and overwhelmed reminds you that you have a community looking out for you and calms that overactive mind. Also, talking to your loved ones often leads to the best laughs. Laughing releases your stress response and releases tension in your body brought on by anxiety.
4. Make sure you’re eating regular meals
Blood sugar imbalances are something that impacts so many people with anxiety. Often, we’re living such busy lives, we forget to eat. If you are feeling anxious, you’re better off eating three square meals a day, plus snacks if you need. Also, try drinking a cup green tea in the morning, it contains many antioxidants which provide health benefits. It also may lower stress and anxiety by increasing serotonin levels. However, don’t consume too much caffeine, as high doses can increase anxiety.
5. Prioritize a good night's sleep
A poor night of sleep is a sure-fire way to wake up anxious the next day. Our brains are much more sensitive and easily triggered when we are sleep-deprived. Make sleep a priority. Get to bed earlier if you need and avoid screens late at night, as the blue light interrupts our brain’s production of the sleep hormone melatonin, meaning we don’t feel as sleepy at night or we get disrupted sleep. Also, when you feel sleepy, go to bed. I’ve found myself straining my eyes trying to stay up to binge watch a show, just to end up with poor sleep and feeling groggy in the morning. It’s not worth it, your rest is more important.
6. Limit your social media time
Comparing your real life to the edited, highlight reels from everyone else is a great way to make yourself anxious. Think about it, you are often comparing your true self to someone outside appearance on social media. Doing this causes you to feel like we’re not good enough, like we are missing out on something or simply not as happy as other people. We ponder thoughts like, “maybe there’s something wrong with me.” Take a break from your phone when you can, switch it on airplane mode or leave it in another room for an hour or so while you go about your day. I also love to turn off my notifications throughout the day to help me focus on my tasks.
7. Spend some time in nature
Simply looking at green spaces makes us feel calm, and there are studies to prove it. Seeing green lowers your stress hormone cortisol. Be sure to take in the gardens and parks you pass when you walk around your neighborhood. Being immersed in nature and breathing in the fresh air will help relieve stress.
8. Praise yourself
Seeking the approval of others motivates many of us. Our years of schooling has trained us to work hard for external validation. We’re just waiting for the day someone is going to turn to us and say, “You’re amazing” and “I’m so proud of you.” Not hearing these words of praise and, instead, telling ourselves the opposite, makes us anxious. But you know what? You can tell yourself what you really need to hear right now! You don’t have to wait for other people to tell you you’re great. Tell yourself. Speak to yourself like you would speak to a best friend and recite your affirmations daily.
9. Write down your thoughts
There’s nothing like pouring out your anxious thoughts onto the page. This is a wonderful way to unload your mind and also start to analyze the kinds of thoughts you are thinking. For instance, let’s say you’re really anxious about getting your work done and you’re so afraid you won’t make it in time for the deadline. When you write this in your journal, you can see your thoughts more objectively. You can put your situation in perspective and see that, actually, it’s not the end of the world if you miss the deadline. No matter what happens, you’d deal with the consequences and you will always be okay. If you aren’t okay, then it’s not the end yet. Also, asking yourself a couple probing questions can help with your anxious thoughts such as:
1. Is this a situation I have no control over?
2. What evidence do I have to feel this way?
3. Am I in danger?
4. What is the story that I’m creating?
10. Practice deep breathing
For many of us anxiety is caused by future expectations. When I sit back and reflect on my anxious thoughts, they are caused by made up scenarios that will probably never happen. When I feel anxious, I ground myself. I meditate, take a couple deep breaths, and remind myself to be present. Whenever I'm nervous, especially before a presentation, I take a deep breath. Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain. Therefore, this helps you to remove chaotic thoughts from your mind and replace them with a sense of calm and positivity.
Sade Jones is NYC-based lifestyle blogger, advertiser, and entrepreneur. An ambitious woman, who is often terrified of taking risks, but does it anyway! She helps driven women find the time to pursue their passions and navigate their wellness and personal development. When she’s not busy creating content that empowers others to ignite their fire inside on her blog thefireinsidesade.com and Instagram, she can be found gallivanting around the world.