Practical Tips to Reduce Your Anxiety

Uncertainty of Covid-19 pandemic has really aggravated my anxiety as of late.  I thought perhaps you too may be having heightened, worsened, or perhaps even new levels of anxiety in your life.

In case someone has not told you today: you are loved, you matter, and you are worthy of happy, healthy life!

 

DISCLAIMER: The author is not a mental health professional.  Content here is provided as general information and it is up to the reader to determine applicability to his/her situation.

Anxiety is a feeling.  It is largely involuntary.  But we can choose how we respond to it.

In fact, I believe it is VITAL to choose how we respond to anxiety.

Anxiety is a reaction to various stimuli that our mind experiences.  Our emotions are our responses to feelings.

For example:  pain is a feeling.  When we hit our thumb with a hammer, we feel pain.  Our emotional responses may include anger, cursing, swearing, and perhaps outbursts such as throwing the hammer at the wall, or pounding the hammer into the wall. 

Yes, I have done all of those!

However, knowing that anxiety is a stimulus response, that gives us a framework through which we can take practical measures to reduce it.  We can take steps to reduce the stimuli.

Here are my favourite tips for reducing anxiety.  When I have a "bad day" in terms of anxiety, I know it is because I didn't follow one or more of these tips.

ANXIETY TIP #1 - Cut back on news media and social media.

All mass media outlets, such as CNN, Fox, BBC, CBC, Global, etc., have a job to do.  And that job is not what you think.  Mass media's job is to keep you glued to the a TV or computer screen so that they can feed you advertisements and make money from you viewing those ads. 

They keep your attention by constantly bring you negative emotional content.  This keeps you feeling anxious.

Everything from the wording of the news stories, to the design of the studio, and the colours and graphics on the screen, including that news ticker tape at the bottom are purposefully designed to keep you there.

Likewise, social media apps have a similar job to do.  Everything in the app is designed to keep you glued to the screen, and activate the release of dopamine in your brain (your pleasure-feeling neurotransmitter).

That's how a 5 minute break turns into 45 minutes of utterly wasted time!

It is very helpful to limit your exposure to the news media and social media.  I suggest limiting it to two times a day, with a timer set on your phone.  No more than 15 minutes at any one time.  

Try this, you will not be sorry!

ANXIETY TIP #2 - Turn off PUSH NOTIFICATIONS

DING.  BLIP.  BLOOP.

It seems like every website, every YouTube channel or video, every app on your phone, all want to be able to notify you.  That attention-getting tone on your phone can go off any time.  They go off all too frequently.

Every time you get the audio alert, your brain gets triggered.  It literally demands your attention.

Whether your realize it or not, you have been trained, much like Pavlov's dogs, to reach for your phone, and find out what app desperately needs your attention now.

I highly recommend that you turn off these notifications.  And say no when an app or website asks to send you notifications.  

I recommended only allowing notifications if they come from your favourite's list, or are essential for your profession.  

ANXIETY TIP #3 - Take a Walk Outside

Anxiety causes mental stress and bodily tension.  You can literally feel it, especially in your neck and shoulders.  

In fact, I want you to take your right hand and tap on the muscles above your left shoulder.  I bet they are very tight.  Now, squeeze your left bicep and tricep with your right hand -- I bet those are nowhere near as tense!

Getting outside allows you an escape from your indoor, often hectic environment.  Escape mass media and social media.  Leave your phone at home, and get outside and take a walk.  

We spend far too much time indoors, almost all day every day.  Getting outside, reconnecting with real daylight, and fresh air is very beneficial.

ANXIETY TIP #4 - MAINTAIN PERSPECTIVE

If there's an event that triggers a bout of anxiety, it is often helpful to put the event into its proper perspective. 

STAY CALM AND THINK IT THROUGH.

Something that is very upsetting in the moment often has no relevance in a day, week, or a year.  

Ask yourself, does this event really matter?  Will I care about it a year from now?  Will I even remember it a year from now?

Assuming this triggering event passes this threshold test above, you have to deal with it.  But again, maintain perspective.  If you were take a step back and look at the problem with you, as the best version of yourself -- how would you tackle this issue.  

How can you tackle the issue from a logical, systematic approach?

And last but not least...

ANXIETY TIP #5 - STRENGTHEN YOUR MIND

This is more like a series of tips.

  • if you feel anxiety coming on, stop what you are doing, and take 5 deep breaths.  Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.  Each inhalation should take 4 seconds, and the exhalation should take 5 seconds.
  • create a health, productive and enjoyable daily routine
  • get enough sleep
  • practice good sleep hygiene
  • cut back on alcohol and other stimulant or depressant use
  • create and follow a nutritious meal plan
  • cut out or at least reduce junk food
  • meditate daily

If you incorporate these tips into your daily life, you should notice an overall reduction in your daily anxiety.  Good luck!


Thomas Detert is a Certified High Performance Coach(TM), mental health blogger and advocate.  He is the founder of Defying Depression: an online self-help movement that encourages those suffering with anxiety and depression to learn how they can help themselves. 

Visit https://www.DefyingDepression.com to learn more.

Be sure to visit our YouTube channel for helpful videos about depression:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ6Pc47mbH8or8fdHyWk-eg

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