By

Shawn Kelly

| 11/21/2020

A healthier Way To Reduce And Release Anxiety

A healthier Way To Reduce And Release Anxiety

If you haven’t noticed lately, the world today appears to be covered in a layer of anxiety, and it doesn’t seem to be lifting any time soon. The truth is that everyone has experienced some form of stress and anxiety in their lifetime. The level of complexity and severity may vary but anxiety does not discriminate and affects us all. And, let’s face it there are a myriad of things to stress over and feel anxious about right now. From a global pandemic, to a divided country, to the state of our future, anxiety is rampant. 

 

The official Merriam-Webster definition of anxiety is “an overwhelming sense of apprehension often marked by physical signs such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate.”1 “Anxiety is a reaction to stress.”2

 

There is no question that we are all facing some serious stress, but once anxiety begins it’s difficult to stop and we are actually training our brains to be anxious. “The more frequently we do something or think a certain way, the stronger that neurological connection in our brain becomes.”3 When we focus on worry and negativity, we are creating a negative mindset and negative energy. We need to learn ways to retrain that energy in order to naturally reduce and release anxiety. 

 

There are simple, natural and healthy approaches, quick fixes if you will, that we can do to reduce and release anxiety. Many of the strategies are nothing new, but it often takes revisiting what we already know to really resonate and make an impact. Then, there is a more thought-provoking and holistic approach to reducing and releasing anxiety. It may sound daunting, but just stick with us.  

Before we begin with what you should do, here is what you should not do. Don’t pop a pill, don’t stress eat, and don’t reach for that bottle of wine to calm your anxiety. All of these no-no’s will only add to your anxiety, cause more issues and make you gain weight! To avoid this downward spiral, let’s focus on the easier stuff first! 


15 WAYS TO REDUCE ANXIETY NATURALLY 

These quick fixes may seem like common sense, yet we still don’t do them. So, here is a gentle reminder of fifteen ways to naturally reduce and release anxiety. Most of them are completely free so there is no excuse.   

  1. BREATHE – Apple was truly onto something when they decided to program this into their Apple Watch, but it helps. You should listen to your smart device … breathe! “Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body and brings awareness away from the worries in your head and quiets your mind.”4 Something so simple can truly help to reduce and release anxiety. In his bestselling 2011 book Spontaneous Happiness, Andrew Weil, MD introduced a classic yoga breathing technique called 4-7-8 breath. “One reason it works is that you can’t breathe deeply and be anxious at the same time. To do the 4-7-8 breath, exhale completely through your mouth, then inhale through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Now, let it out slowly through your mouth for a count of eight.”5 Repeat whenever you need to release anxiety.  

  2. EXERCISE – Go for a walk, do some yoga, or release those endorphins with some intense kickboxing, running or cycling. The point is to start moving because exercise can improve your mood, help you relax and take the focus away from what is causing anxiety.

  3. DISTRACT AND RE-DIRECT - Step away from the situation. Take a time out. We put our kids in time out. Sometimes adults need a time out too, so take it. If you’re feeling anxious you probably deserve it. Go into a dark, quiet place and close your eyes. Listen to soothing music and control your breathing. Repeat a mantra and focus on that mantra – like the sky is blue, the grass is green and remember to breathe. 

  1. SLEEP – Make sure you’re getting proper sleep. Sometimes, it’s impossible to get 8 hours and not everyone needs that much time. But, two hours a night isn’t good for anyone and just perpetuates the anxiety cycle so make sure you get some shut eye! “Sleep is a necessary human function — it allows our brains to recharge and our bodies to rest. When we do not sleep long or well enough, our bodies do not get the full benefits of sleep, such as muscle repair and memory consolidation. Sleep is so crucial that even slight sleep deprivation or poor sleep can affect memory, judgment and mood. In addition to feelings of listlessness, chronic sleep deprivation can contribute to health problems, from obesity and high blood pressure to safety risks while driving. Research has shown that most Americans would be happier, healthier and safer if they were to sleep an extra 60 to 90 minutes per night.”6

  2. PHONE A FRIEND - Having someone to talk or text who can empathize, sympathize or just listen does wonders. Creating a strong network of support to help you through hard times will help you reduce and release anxiety. People need people … Call your people! 

  1. COMIC RELIEF – There is an old adage that says laughter is the best medicine. Laughter has been linked to relieving pain, improving mood, decreasing blood pressure, and reducing anxiety. So, if you’re feeling anxious, find the latest trending, hysterically funny YouTube video and have a rolling guffaw.

  2. RE-FOCUS ATTENTION - Do something different! Completely stop what you’re doing and focus on another task. The 3-3-3 rule is a technique used by trained mental health counselors. This is a re-focus technique that takes the mind off of what is causing the anxiety. The technique requires that you “look around and name three things you see. Then, name three sounds you hear. Finally move three parts of your body.”7 Completing another task will take the focus away from what is causing the anxiety.
     

  3. PERSPECTIVE – Before letting your mind wander, put things into perspective. Focus on what you know to be true.  Instead of thinking, I made a mistake at work I’m going to get fired. Think, I have a job, I do good work, I’ve received compliments and I receive a paycheck every week. Don’t look ahead to the unknown. Focus on what you know and don’t assume the worst.
     

  4. LEARN TO SAY NO - We often feel anxious because we take on too much and don’t know when to say no. In order to stop feeling anxious, we all must learn to say no sometimes.  Keep it simple. Do you need to volunteer to make 30 cake pops for your kid’s preschool class or will cookies from your local grocery store suffice? Learning to say no now will relieve a great deal of anxiety. Once you get used to it, you’ll become a pro. 

  1. JOURNALING - Writing down our thoughts is a way of purging and releasing anxiety. You can go back and revisit your thoughts later to see how you were feeling. It also protects you from saying the wrong thing out of anger or stress and allows you to think before you speak. Writing is a healthy way to express and get to the root of why you’re feeling anxious.

  2. TIME MANAGEMENT – We often feel anxious because we don’t have enough time in each day. So, get a pretty planner or use one of the many apps available today to get organized and schedule tasks and events. Organizing your day will allow you to visualize your time and reduce anxiety.

  3. DE-CLUTTER YOUR LIFE – “Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally. It constantly signals to our brains that our work is never done. Clutter causes anxiety because we’re never sure what it’s going to take to get through to the bottom of the pile.”10  If you need help in this department, google Marie Kondo, and this tidying wonder will give you valuable tips that will help you learn to release anxiety.

  4. THERAPY ANIMALS – There’s nothing like snuggling up with your favorite furry friend for love and support, but emotional support and service dogs are actually trained to detect stress and can help to reduce and release anxiety. Service dogs can be trained to provide deep pressure to soothe their owner, calm a person down through distraction like providing a paw, and detect signs before an anxiety attack happens.9  

  5. AROMATHERAPY – The practice of using essential and aromatic oils to heal has been around for centuries.  “Lavender is one of the most popular aromatherapy oils and is thought to calm anxiety by impacting the limbic system, the part of the brain that controls emotion.”8 Other essential oils that can help to reduce anxiety naturally are jasmine, bergamot, chamomile, frankincense and patchouli. 

  1. MASSAGE THERAPY – “A 60-minute massage can lower cortisol, a hormone that’s produced in response to stress, by an average of 30%. And when cortisol levels decline, serotonin — one of the body’s anti-pain mechanisms — increases by an average of 28% after receiving a massage. By lowering cortisol and increasing serotonin, you’re boosting your body’s ability to fight off pain, anxiety and feelings of sadness.”11

HOLISTIC APPROACH TO REDUCING AND RELEASING ANXIETY 

There is a longer-term approach that can be used in tandem with short term strategies. It requires a deeper level of thinking, but it’s worth it to free yourself from the pains of anxiety. Short-term strategies often offer temporary relief. A holistic approach will help to reduce, relieve and release anxiety for the long-term and help you follow a healthier, happier life. 

Rev. Michael Bernard Beckwith, New Thought minister and successful author, encourages all of us to live for something bigger and decide what you are going to do to make the world better. Many of us tend to live in silos and don’t see beyond our own little lives, but living a bigger life brings much more joy and bliss and takes away anxiety. 

A more holistic approach allows you to step outside of yourself and learn someone else’s story. Everyone has a story and as the old adage states you don’t know that story until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. The key to reducing and releasing our own anxiety is to walk through life with patience, grace, compassion, faith and purpose. 

FINDING SUPPORT 

Sharing your story and connecting with others to hear their stories allows us to put life into perspective and think beyond ourselves. Creating a strong network of positivity where we can all grow and learn from each other is our mission at Wellness Hub. We provide an online community that fosters a deeper connection and awakening. 

  1. (2020) Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Fact & Statistics. Available at https://adaa.org/about-adaa/press-room/facts-statistics#:~:text=Did You Know?,of those suffering receive treatment accessed on 17 November 2020.

  2. (2020) Merriam-Webster. Available at  https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anxiety accessed on 17 November 2020.

  3. (2018) How to Retrain Your Anxious Brain. Available at https://www.neurocorecenters.com/blog/how-to-retrain-your-anxious-brain#:~:text=There's an anxiety-reducing technique,mind refocus on something else  accessed on 18 November 2020. 

  4. (2012) The American Institute of Stress. Take a Deep Breath. Available at https://www.stress.org/take-a-deep-breath#:~:text=Deep breathing increases the supply,head and quiets your mind accessed on 18 November 2020.

  5. (2019) Health.com. 19 Natural Remedies for Anxiety. Available at https://www.health.com/condition/anxiety/19-natural-remedies-for-anxiety?slide=a9506ead-cf21-446c-b067-52bf9d92d269#a9506ead-cf21-446c-b067-52bf9d92d269 accessed on 18 November 2020.

  6. (2013) American Psychological Association. Stress and Sleep. Available at https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2013/sleep accessed on 18 November 2020.

  7. (2017) WebMD.com. How to Stop Feeling Anxious Right Now. Available at https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/features/ways-to-reduce-anxiety accessed on 18 November 2020.

  8. (2017) Healthline.com. How Essential Oils are Used. Available at https://www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/essential-oils-for-anxiety#lavender accessed on 18 November 2020.

  9. (2018) MedicalNewsToday.com. Can Service Dogs Help with Anxiety? Available at  https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322784#what-are-service-dogs accessed on 19 November 2020.

  10. (2012) Psychology Today. Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies. Available at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/high-octane-women/201203/why-mess-causes-stress-8-reasons-8-remedies accessed on 19 November 2020.

  11. (2014) Mayo Clinic. Can Massage Relieve Symptoms of Depression, Anxiety and Stress? Available at https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/can-massage-relieve-symptoms-of-depression-anxiety-and-stress accessed on 19 November 2020.

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