Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in America today, affecting 18 percent of adults and often are diagnosed alongside depression. If anxiety is ruling your life - creating negative thoughts and emotions that impact your function, you might be searching for a way out from under those suffocating feelings of stress, fear, and panic. Don't suffer alone. There are proven methods for taming anxiety today. Try these ten anxiety busters to learn how to deal effectively with negative thoughts and mental suffering:
1: Refocus your Energy on Something Positive
The simple act of focusing on something other than your anxious thoughts is one of the greatest anxiety busters. While simply trying to think positive can lead you in a negative direction, getting your mind off the source of anxiety and onto something else is very effective.
Do you like to run? Go for a run. Do you enjoy cooking? Prepare an elaborate meal at home with your friends or significant other. Do you like watching movies? Stream one on Netflix (and make some popcorn). The goal is to focus your attention on something that has nothing in common with the source of your anxiety. This way, you shift the focus away from the concern driving it and onto something that will reward you with joy.
2: Seek Perspective
Our way of thinking often creates anxiety; sometimes, anxious thoughts are not based on reality but biased perceptions and negative thinking patterns. It can be hard to see this when we're engulfed by these thoughts every day, so look for support from family members or professionals who might have similar experiences to share and gain a different perspective.
3: Practice Guided Meditation and Yoga
Meditation and Yoga are excellent anxiety busters - not only do they relax your mind and body, but they can help you practice mindfulness throughout the day. Various guided meditations online will guide you through this process, including short 5-minute exercises to use when anxiety strikes in your daily life. Yoga can help you focus on your breathing and being present.
4: Get Outdoors
Exercise, particularly in nature, is one of the best anxiety busters because it stimulates your senses and boosts your mood. Whether you're walking through a beautiful forest, swimming in the ocean, or snowboarding down the mountains, getting outdoors is an effective way of dealing with releasing negative thoughts.
5: Get Enough Sleep
You've probably heard the old adage that sleep is vital for good health, but most of us don't think about how a lack of sleep can exacerbate our anxiety. Getting the right amount of shut-eye every night promotes healthy mental functioning, making us more productive and better prepared to deal with stress throughout the day.
5: Spend Time with People Who Make You Happy
One of the most helpful things you can do for yourself, apart from getting enough sleep, is to make sure you are surrounding yourself with positive people. Make time to connect with the people you care about and who care about and encourage you. This could be anything from going out to frozen yogurt with your kids, playing board games with your friends, or going on a date with your significant other.
6: Find Your Anchor
Anchoring is a concept in psychology where people identify an object or thought that serves as a reminder for certain feelings and thoughts. Some find happiness when they're reminded of specific moments in their lives; others find peace when surrounding themselves with photos or objects that hold meaning to them.
7: Laugh More
Research shows that our brains release a chemical cocktail of endorphins when we laugh. It promotes an overall good feeling and can help relieve pain too. If your anxiety makes everything feel serious, make it a regular habit to seek out funny movies, TV shows, or YouTube videos each day to give yourself opportunities to laugh. It can likewise be helpful to limit intake of things that make you feel sad or upset such as the news.
8: Be Aware of Your Breathing
Hyperventilation is a widespread reaction to anxiety, which makes sense because the symptoms of hyperventilation mimic high levels of stress and fear: rapid breathing, chest pains, lightheadedness, and more. Learning how to control your breathing can help you ease these symptoms and reduce the severity of your anxious thoughts. Try practicing deep breaths throughout the day when you're feeling particularly stressed out, or learn about the 54321 Grounding Technique.
9: Prepare for Anxiety Attacks (Before They Happen)
Anxiety attacks may hit you out of nowhere or creep up slowly until they completely overtake your body and mind. Either way, it's essential to learn what causes them before they happen so that you'll be better prepared to handle them when they strike. Working with a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy can help you learn how to identify and avoid your anxiety triggers, and these days you can even do it from the comfort of your own home.
10: Challenge Negative Thoughts
Our thoughts have incredible power over our emotions and behavior - if we can change the way we think, we can change how we feel! One effective practice is to challenge your anxious thoughts as soon as you become aware of them - replace them with more realistic perspectives and positive affirmations that will help you relieve stress and stay calm. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be a useful tool.
Seek Help With Your Anxiety from BCB Therapy
If we don't make an effort to take control of our anxious feelings- instead of letting them control us - then we will give them all the power. We need to remember that no matter what happens in life, good or bad, we can survive it! We can push through tough times because they don't last forever, but if we let anxiety hold us back, then the chances are that we will never be able to enjoy the present moment, let alone feel excited about the future.
As always, remember that your life belongs to you - make sure you spend it on experiences that make you happy and take control of every situation instead of allowing it to control you!
If you live in the greater Bend, Oregon area and are looking for help, BCB Therapy can connect you with a counselor to diagnose and help you get treatment for anxiety. Contact us today!