4 exercises for reducing anxiety
1. Start your day right
It’s always a good idea to start your day off right by creating a calm and clear head. This will give you the best chance to respond appropriately to whatever the day ahead might bring. Try getting up 30 minutes earlier than usual. Rushing to get out the door in the morning is not conducive to a calm head.
Use this time to write your thoughts down in a journal, or write 5 things you are grateful for. If movement is more your thing then try some simple stretching exercises or yoga. You can find 20 minute yoga tutorials on the internet.
The game changer for reducing anxiety throughout the day is morning meditation. There is something really powerful about going within, taking the focus off your external environment and everything that is happening in your life right now. It can centre and ground you, and produces happy hormones. Just 5 minutes in the morning can make a difference to your day. You can find short guided meditations on the internet.
One of the mottos I’ve adopted is ‘pause when agitated or doubtful’. It have saved me a number of times from reacting rather than responding to unsettling situations. Just taking a beat can make a real difference. For instance, if someone says something that you don’t like take a pause before responding and your response will be much calmer. Also, during that small pause the other person may even retract or apologise for what they have said. Whereas if you had reacted straight away out of defensiveness it would most likely inflame the situation.
Similarly, I advise never responding immediately to emails or texts that have unsettled you. Take the time to digest it, and wait until you are in a good head space before responding. This sometimes means waiting until the next day to reply. The result of pausing is you re not left feeling anxious about the way you reacted to a situation, and the repercussions it might have. The last thing you want to do is feel bad about yourself.
3. Stop feeding it
When experiencing anxiety over a particular person or situation, it can play round and round in your head. you can have imaginary conversations, play imaginary outcomes, or just think about the upcoming event over and over. If you tell yourself to stop thinking about something you might end up focusing on it even more by trying to stop doing it.
Instead try to switch your focus to the present moment. One of the fastest ways to do it is to focus on the body. Try focusing on the tingling in your hands and see if it brings you back to now. Or look around you and note three things you can see.
Or try focusing on things that make you happy. Is it your pet, your partner, the sunshine, or a cup of tea? Switch your focus to something you know with make you feel good right now.
4. What’s the evidence – reality check
Anxiety can cloud your judgement about situations, and you lose my ability to right size things. One of the best tools for getting some perspective over something is to say it out loud to another person. Talking to a friend or family member often gives you’re the opportunity to see things with a little more clarity. You may find that the outcome you are worrying about is actually extremely unlikely. Or the person you thought was angry with you was just having a bad day, or generally communicates in that manner. Often the person you speak is able to offer a different perspective which can take the power out of the anxious feelings you are having. If you are uncomfortable talking to someone you know try talking to a therapist about your anxieties.