Any anxiety sufferers out there? Whether its mild or extreme anxiety is something that affects many of us. The thing about anxiety is that when we are in the midst of stress, panic and anxiousness we aren't in our right mind and able to make logical decisions. It's actually been studied and shown that anxiety disrupts our decision making process. When we are in the midst of anxiety our prefrontal cortex is disrupted which plays a huge role in regulating emotions and problem solving. It's no wonder we don't remember to breath calmly and logically talk our way down from shear panic.
I wanted to share some tips that have helped me, clients and many others manage their anxiety and live a life a little more free.
1. Don't wait for anxiety to kick in
One of the most common mistakes is having a ton of tools to use but only using them in panic situations (aka major anxiety event). The best way to manage anxiety is to practice the skills I am going to share with you on a regular basis. It's sort of like having crummy vision. It's important to wear your glasses everyday. They are your tool to help you function better. If you don't wear them things might be a bit difficult. Anxiety is like your crummy vision and the tips I'm going to share with you are your glasses that you should put on every day.
Yoga is a great way to A. calm down and B. get in touch with your body. For many, if they have never practiced yoga before it can seem slow and some might even say boring. However, this is when it is so important to develop a practice. I use to do it for the 'workout' and just couldn't bring myself to find a consistent practice. Now I do it for my well being and find myself craving it daily. Being able to feel grounded, focus on your breath and move your body allows you to be present and mindful about how your body is feeling.
Mindfulness can happen in any part of your daily life. Think driving to work, brushing your teeth, walking outside or anywhere in between. It consist of being aware of one's thoughts, emotions and present experiences, without judgment. There's even research that shows 4 weeks of a regular mindfulness practice can begin to change your brain. I have a simple mindful exercise on my Instagram page if you want to try it out.
5. Sleep Routine
I remember as we were sleep training our son I was thinking "okay he needs a bed routine and cues that its time to sleep." He has a bed time, a dark and cozy room without any electronics and a pretty consistent sleep routine. The kid sleeps great. It's like clockwork when we turn the lights off at 8pm he's asleep by 8:10. Now I on the other hand had no sleep routine. No quiet time, tv and phones in the bedroom, no bed time, no cues to tell my body it was time to rest. Getting on a sleep routine as an adult is just as important as a growing child. Make your room quiet, cozy and dark. Diffuse essential oils like lavender, get electronics out of your room, get a cozy cup of tea and take a relaxing bath. Getting adequate sleep is going to let you function so so so much better.
Focusing on gratitude has been shown to change our brain . A great way to do this is list 3 things you are grateful for and journal about why you are grateful for them. Do this daily or as often as possible. A different option is to choose an object (one that you see frequently) and every time you see that object you think of something your are grateful for. For example if I choose a red car, every time I see a red car I think of something I'm grateful for.
7. Soothing Box
A soothing box or self care box is a literal box that holds things that can soothe you when things get tough. This could be a journal, affirmations, your favorite tea, music, a stress ball, a picture. Put as many soothing things into the box and then when you need it, soothe away.
I hope some of these tips help you or a loved one. I would love to hear any tips and tricks you have tried in the comments below.
As always, I'm rooting for you,
Hanna Kuyper is a wife, a mom and a lover of all things outdoors. She has owned a women only wellness studio, sat on the board of a non profit dedicated to eating disorder and body image awareness and has volunteered as a mentor for girls in school. She is a current Marriage and Family Therapy Masters student and will graduate in April 2018.