Tuesday, June 28, 2011

9 Tips to Reduce & Prevent Anxiety

Anxiety strikes all of us from time to time while affecting some of us more profoundly and more frequently or for longer durations. The makeup of anxiety can be complex but in essence is triggered by the flight or fight response in the body. Anxiety can be triggered by a thought, sound, emotion or situation that triggers dormant memories or feelings or stirs up current issues that we have not fully resolved within. For others anxiety can be triggered by stress, worry and over thinking or what some call the monkey chatter of the mind. Whatever the cause or personal trigger there are some tips that can help quell the impending anxiety storm and help to restore a sense of peace, calm and balance within.

1)      Stay Present – When feeling overwhelmed or the old familiar feelings of anxiety, bring yourself back to the present. Feelings of anxiousness are rooted in thoughts about the past or what may occur in the future. Grounding yourself in the present can help focus your mind and banish anxiety. Focus on what’s in front of you, focus on breathing, immerse yourself in something that is beautiful, pleasing or brings you joy, something that is happening right now. Your child playing, a beautiful sunset, the feelings of growing grass under your bare feet, whatever it may be, bringing yourself back to the present moment can get you out of feel anxious. 

2)      Resign as General Manager of the Universe – You were not made to control all of the events of the Universe. You cannot control other people, the traffic, your boss, your co-workers or even what will happen tomorrow. Thinking you can, worrying or trying to will cause very strong anxious feelings. When you begin to feel anxious this is a good reminder that you have over stepped your personal bounds of control. All you can control is yourself and what is going on with you right in this moment. Let go of everything else and trust the Universe is big and loving enough to handle all of those events outside of yourself in the best possible way~ a way much better then you could ever conceive on your own.

3)       Let Go of the Little Things – Nobody and nothing in life is perfect, it is the shades, grades and unknowns of life that make it exciting and worth living. If you could figure all of life out in this moment what would you have to look forward to? Would life really be all that exciting? Picture your life as a roller coaster ride. If you white knuckle the handle bars, grit your teeth and refuse to open your eyes, how much fun can you really have? Sure it is scary, there are going to be ups and downs and sometimes all you want to do is get off the ride but that is what makes life fun. 
1)      Create an Island of Clam Within – It is important to be grounded within yourself. Life throws us crazy and stressful events, they cannot be avoided, but it is important to remember it is all happening outside of yourself and is not who you are. When things start feeling overwhelming, find and connect to your center. You can learn to locate the seed of peace inside yourself and cultivate it so it grows into a reliable source of serenity that we can always access, no matter where we are. You can connect and cultivate inner peace through simply meditative practice or just spending quite time alone with yourself.

5)      Root Down Deep – It is important to be deeply rooted in what is meaningful and real in life. So often we get lost in events and situations around or outside of us. Emotions are fleeting, situations come and go, and everything will continue to run its natural course whether you worry about it or not. Like a tree in the wind, if your roots are deep, healthy and strong the winds can only ruffle your leaves a bit. Your true being is unshakeable and unmovable, it is able to bend and sway with the winds but no damage can be done to the roots. Connect with what you know is real and most meaningful in your life. When the winds come, dig deep and stay rooted in what you know to be real. Let the other stuff just blow away with the wind. 

6)      Assess Your Priorities and Learn to Say No – Many times when life is feeling overwhelming and uncontrollable it is because we have over committed ourselves, leaving no room for ourselves. It is easy to get lost when you don’t have any time to remember who and what you are. It is important to be engaged in the world around you but equally important to be engaged with yourself. Schedule time just for you on a regular and ongoing basis. When your life is extremely busy don’t cut out the YOU time, cut out events and commitments your heart is not fully invested in. Balance all your activity with rest. If you are super busy during the day be equally super unbusy in the evening. Keep your life in balance to avoid becoming lost in a whirlwind of activity.

7)      Monitor Self Talk – Negative or self defeating talk can also bring on feelings of anxiousness. If your mind is constantly telling you that you aren’t good enough, pretty enough, didn’t do this or that right it is bound to cause anxiety. Negative self talk is monkey chatter at its worst! Tame the monkey and your mind. Act as an observer inside your own head and listen to yourself. What types of things are you telling yourself? Are they positive and life affirming or are they negative and life demeaning? Also watch for excessive self talk which saps energy and mental reserves and leaves you low on energy. Without paying attention our mind can go into overdrive, having opinions and commentary on everything that arises in life. A quite mind brings peace and helps relieve anxiety so take time each day to quite your mind and your body.  

8)       Meditate – Mediation can take on many forms. Some prefer walking mediation, some prefer long periods of mediation while others like to simply sit and listen to sounds of nature. Whatever form or name it may take, the basic premise is to allow your mind time to be quiet, not to think and just to be. As anyone who has tried mediation will tell you, it is the moment you try to be still that you realize how active your mind really is. Our society tends to value a very active mind and while an active mind can serve us well in many ways it can also be one of our greatest enemies, distracting and overwhelming us from who we truly are and what is truly important. You are not your mind, you are not your thoughts. You utilize your mind, but the mind you are not. Especially for those that do use their minds a lot it is important to have time each day where the mind is quieted and you allow yourself to simply be. Mediation is one of the most powerful tools in ridding yourself of anxiety and preventing it from ever coming back. 

9)      Take Care of Your Needs – Not getting enough sleep, eating poorly, skipping meals, over eating, not getting enough body movement or sleep and falling into erratic and non-regular habits wreaks havoc on your body and mind. When your body is in chaos so is the mind. When the body is not getting the nutrients it needs especially those that support the nervous system it will begin degrading and not working properly. “Symptoms” are simply loud signal your body sends you to get your attention and make a change. If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety it is imperative to start by making your foundation healthy and strong, which is done through healthy lifestyle and diet practices.

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