You seem to be the intruder that doesn’t seem to want to go away, and when I think you’re gone, you reveal your ugly face back into my life.
Over the past few years, I’ve learned to reduce my anxious tendencies. It’s been a pretty long road, but the more I practice these 13 ways the more I’ve been feeling more myself and less distressed.
Now is the time to take hold of your life, calm your anxiety, and improve your mental health!
How My Anxiety Started
I was around 8-years-old when I started sheltering myself from the outside world. My family nor I didn’t know what to label it then, but that was when my social anxiety started.
As a result, I distanced myself from unknown people and people whom I thought hurt me, physically or emotionally. I was terrified.
The older I got, the more I masked my anxiety by keeping a constant smile on my face to make sure everyone adored me. I said yes to social events, but I would cancel the last minute because being surrounded by people, some of whom I knew and some I didn’t, gave me a wave of insurmountable fear. And there were times when I had panic attacks right before our friends come over for dinner.
Living with anxiety hasn’t been easy. It took a toll on my mental heath.
Sadly, I never told anyone about what I was going through. I kept it all inside because I thought that others would think I’m weird or worse, they’d distance themselves from me. Also, at that time, there weren’t a lot of people talking about mental health, so I just kept it to myself.
Without a doubt, the best thing I did for my mental health was letting someone in.
It wasn’t until I was dating David, my then-boyfriend, now-husband that the conversation unfolded. I was vulnerable and transparent to David with what I was going through. He opened his arms for me and kept me safe as I unraveled all my insecurities around my anxiety.
That was when the healing began for me.
13 Ways to Calm Your Anxiety
1. Know you’re not alone
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety affects 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year. Feeling alone will isolate yourself, and it’s something that can make your anxiety worse.
2. Talk about it
Talk to someone you trust, whether that’s your significant other, a close friend or family member, or a therapist. When you keep things in your mind, your anxiety is enhanced 10x than what it really is. Giving you this outlet helps you to process what’s going on in your heart and soul.
3. Educate yourself
Don’t stop just talking to someone about it. It’s good to research and learn more about it. See how others have overcome their anxiety or ways others are dealing with it. This also makes you feel you’re not suffering alone.
One of the books that helped me with my anxiety is called Dare: The New Way to End Anxiety and Stop Panic Attacks by Barry McDonagh. It completely changed the way I looked at anxiety and found ways to change the way I deal with it.
This is a game-changer for calming your anxiety. Doing daily meditation has calmed my anxiety over time.
There are plenty of meditation apps available, but my favorite is Meditation Studio. It’s not new-age-y (nothing wrong with new age, but it’s not for me) unlike other meditation apps, and it focuses mostly on breathing, body, changing mindset, and some personal development topics.
The more I practice meditation, the less anxious I feel on a day-to-day basis, and my stress becomes more manageable.
5. Reassess your thoughts
Journaling your thoughts is helpful when dealing with anxiety. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center Rochester, tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to control them better.
Journaling will help you to be more self-aware and reflective. Start out writing what happened and define what triggered your anxiety.
6. Gratitude list
Sometimes, it’s easy to focus on all the things that are not right with what happened in the day or in our lives. When in reality, there is so much to be thankful for.
Writing down ten things you’re grateful for can shift your mindset and focus on things that matter. My husband and I do this almost daily so that we’re in the right headspace.
7. Do something
Specifically, do something that brings you joy. What lights you up? Do more things that mean something to you and makes you happy. Focusing your attention on something more joyful distracts you away from your anxiety. Besides, there is much research that links happiness with better overall health.
Working out is not only good for your physical body, but it’s excellent to calm your anxiety.
According to an article written on the Harvard Health Publishing, “Exercise activates frontal regions of the brain responsible for executive function, which helps control the amygdala, our reacting system to real or imagined threats to our survival.”
9. Expose yourself
Now, this can be scary, but it can be extremely beneficial to your progress. Choose what level of exposure you want and can go up the level as you progress. Let’s say you have a fear of going to events. First, choose an event to go to without going. The next time is driving to the event place. Then going to the event for 5 minutes and increase the time you stay until you reach the desired time.
Each time you expose yourself, assess how you feel and what’s going through your mind. If things didn’t go well, pinpoint what went wrong and ask yourself what you would change next time. It won’t be perfect all the time, but the more you get used to it, the more empowered you’ll feel!
10. Fidget toys
Fidget toys are the new stress balls. These toys are helpful whenever you’re in an anxious situation. I got the Fidget Cube and have been using it every time I have a virtual meeting. It helps me to be present and makes me less anxious. There are other fidget toys like the flippy chain and spinner ring.
11. Weighted blanket
This is great for sleeping. It feels like a gentle hug on you. Upon hearing about the weighted blanket, it made me curious about trying it out. The weight on the body helps release stress and improves sleep. The moment I was under the blanket, I felt secure.
It mimicked the way it felt my husband would cuddle me right before I fall asleep. When my husband would cuddle me, I would fall asleep faster, and the weighted blanked helped with that.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who suffered staying up in the wee hours, constantly replaying all the things that went wrong. I end up overanalyzing the situation, nitpicking every single word I uttered that I should’ve and could’ve said, then only tearing myself apart.
IT WAS BAD.
I found that reading fictional books has helped me stop the cycle. I now do this every single night to wind down and relax my body. It’s important to read a book that is not too action-filled otherwise, it might keep you up at night instead of relaxing you.
13. Your ONE
Who is that one person, thing, a pet that keeps you going? Who fuels your fire, and is the reason you live? The person who shows you unconditional love, no matter how low you get? That is your ONE. Focus on your ONE.
Dealing with anxiety has its highs and lows, knowing your priorities and keep them at the forefront of your mind when fighting your battles, keeps you motivated and inspired.
It’s good to note that healing and calming your anxieties will take time. It won’t magically disappear after a day or week’s practice of the suggested remedies above. It will take consistent practice to change the way you feel and be more in control of your anxiety instead of being controlled by it. If something’s not working out, try the other ways.
At times, when you’re feeling better you might assume that all is well, then you stop [insert what you were doing], but only to find out that your anxiety reappears back into your life.
When that happens, give yourself grace and get back into practicing whatever was working for you calm down your anxiety.
Anxiety can feel like a heavy burden that is hard to shake off. I’ve multiple things I’ve listed above, and I’m in such a better place now with my mental health.
I’d be lying if I’d say it had been sunshine and rainbows since day one. I’ve celebrated my highs and pushed through my lows. It took years of practice.
As I mentioned in the intro, I’m so much better now than in calming my anxiety. I’m more in touch with who I am and how to quickly stop anxiety when it starts creeping up in my life. I have no doubt that you can get to the same place or even better.
Sending you all my love and strength! Keep going. You got this!