Hello Friend:) One episode 48 of my podcast, Awakening Aphrodite, we discussed anxiety, which sadly is quite a common feeling for a lot of people right now and understandably so. We’re all dealing with so much major change, uncertainty and for some, a lot of pain and fear.
I recently came across an article in Psychology Today, written by licensed psychotherapist, Linda Esposito. Linda shares her 12 top tips to help with anxious feelings and shares with us the good news that getting to the other side of anxiety and worry doesn’t have to be so hard and that “calm doesn’t have to be a myth. Linda argues that while we could think of feeling anxious as “something being wrong with us”, and racing thoughts, sleepless nights, tightening in the chest, or other sensations, the key is to not think of those experiences as part of your identity or just “how you are” who you are – just as I’ve found that the way we identify with ALL things in life and about ourselves is KEY!
I’m sharing with you some suggestions for you to help yourself. You can get on the other side and get to inner peace with just a little bit of discipline, a little bit of creativity and commitment to intentional acts of calm. So enjoy, but above all, please don’t just read. TAKE ACTION and incorporate the ones that resonate with you into your life. Taking action is the only way to make change.
12 Tips for Curbing Your Anxiety
1. Memorize the following sentence: “What is a different way of looking at my situation?”
That’s it. Isn’t that an amazing thought? It’s just a great reframe. Read it again: “What is a different way of looking at my situation?” Oftentimes when we have anxiety or any kind of thought in our mind that just keeps looping and looping and looping, and we start obsessing on a thought, we just get super hyper-focused and we can’t think of a possible other way to look at something. Every other possibility is just not even popping into our brains. So just asking the simple question, What is a different way of looking at my situation? I think is simple and brilliant -two of my favorite things!
Linda recommends to ask yourself this question every time you start to feel overwhelmed. Getting out of habitual patterns and overreacting to stress and uncertainty is a key step towards regarding yourself as a capable problem solver. So remember that question next time you start getting really anxious.
2. Walk or take your dog out for 30 minutes a day, or go for a hike.
Literally, and metaphorically movement can get you unstuck. We know that and the research is adamant.
We know that exercise can be more effective with less side effects than even prescription drugs ,and it’s just a no-brainer when it comes to something you will want to include in your life if you struggle with any of these issues. Simply put, it’s a powerful way to literally change your state. Other things with similar effectiveness include things like music and taking a cold shower, but definitely just getting out and getting some fresh air will instantly change your perspective. That’s when new stuff can flow. And I’m so glad that Linda recommended that as tip number two, because I totally agree. Plus, not only are you getting out of your home, but you’re getting out of your head. And especially if you have a wily dog that will keep you on your toes. That’s for sure.
3. Drink a lot of water.
Woo. That’s another good one coming from someone like me, who’s in the health and wellness space. And if you want to learn more about that, definitely check out my episode number 12, which is My Foundations in Fitness Number Three, which we talk about water, all things hydration. You definitely want to listen to that episode because I know you know you “should drink water”, but once you understand why you will become a believer and you will be much more apt to comply! So Linda shares that staying hydrated is a simple way to help improve mental health. Water facilitates the delivery of nutrients to the brain. It also removes toxins and inflammatory markers and it improves cognitive function. In fact I’ve even read that being dehydrated, even as little as by 1% can decrease your ability to concentrate…it’s so, so super, super powerful. And again, for more on that checkout podcast episode #12 on water.
4. Drop and do 10 pushups.
We’re back to movement again. When your heart starts racing, maybe because your boss just bombed your inbox with requests, a short burst of heightened physical activity can help you get rid of nervous energy. I agree that that’s a really good idea, because anxiety can increase our adrenaline (the stress hormone) in the body and those chemicals need to MOVE through and out of your body. Just as a little side note: that pump you get, when you get a rush of adrenaline can also be another reason why a lot of people get addicted to that anxious behavior. Because not only it is their go-to mode of being, but it gives you energy. So when you’re anxious all the time and over busy and hyper, you have a lot of energy, but the problem is that energy can burn you out and fry your hormones and fry your neurotransmitters and that can lead to the invariable CRASH afterwards, which is no fun. Let me tell you, it’s no picnic when you just feel like you’re on the floor and EXHAUSTED! Have you ever felt that way? I know I have when I am just pushing it too, too hard, and that adrenaline is just fried from being in that chronic state of “alert” for too long.
Bottom line is, when you’ve got all those energy chemicals in your body, they need to be burned. They need to go somewhere productive. So do a little bit of hardcore exercise. Something more like pushups rather than just a little stroll like is recommended tip number two.
5. Think of a person you admire who sees the glass as half full.
I’m sure you know that saying: “Is the glass half full or half empty?” Well, think of somebody that you admire that always looks at the bright side or has a really cool way of finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so to speak. Do you know anyone like that? If not, you need to upgrade! You need to get around some people that are not the Doom and Gloom Club and find people that have more of a Can-Do, growth mentality, that positive mindset.
Now let me just be clear. As I’ve said, in many shows, I am not someone who likes to just stick a happy sticker on everything and pretend it’s all fun because that’s just called spiritual bypass and that’s just completely avoiding the issue. A lot of times our pain is our best teacher and it alerts us to something that we need to pay attention to and change. So pain is not by any means something we want to just pretend it’s fine. That’s just complete denial and it’s actually not respecting and loving yourself either. But at the same time, we do want to be around people that, although they might want to respect and learn from something uncomfortable, they at least have a willingness to eventually try to find a good in it. That’s essential. Feelings are ment to be felt, but don’t “park and set up camp there”. Emotions are energy in MOTION and need to MOVE through you. Otherwise, you’re just stuck. And when you’re stuck you don’t learn from something, expand and grow to then move out of it and you certainly won’t find the good. You’re not going to find something you’re not looking for.
So when you’re stymied, ask yourself what someone you admire would do in this situation? Anxiety can make you feel isolated even when you’re not physically alone. So if you’re not getting positive vibes from those around you, think of your admired person for inspiration. And again, as I mentioned before, if you don’t know anyone, find someone. Just think of anybody you admire. 🙂
6. Practice the Pomodoro Technique
The Pomodoro Technique is the famous work-rest technique that is commonly practiced by many high-achievers and people who are efficient in their jobs as a way to work productively with balance. When you’re stressed and demotivated about deadlines or responsibilities, working in small batches of time can help you focus and gain a sense of control. So what you do in the Pomodoro technique, which is named after the person who invented it, it’s super simple. All you do is set a timer or pay attention to the clock and work for 25 minutes. Then after 25 minutes, you stop no matter where you’re at in your work and you give yourself a five minute break. Usually what they recommend during this break time is you get up or maybe just go downstairs, get a glass of water, or step outside, get a little fresh air, maybe put in a load of laundry, call a friend, whatever, just literally take a five minute break and definitely away from your workstation.
Then what you do is you repeat that cycle: 25 minutes of work, five minutes break, for three or four times. Then after that, you take a longer break. So after about an hour and a half or so you take a 15 to 20 minute break, at least. This is the Pomodoro technique and it has been very successful like I mentioned, not only in work efficiency, but keeping you from burning out and just getting hyper-focused when is when you can have a law of diminishing returns and reduced productivity.
7. Find a mindful activity to ease yourself through transitions.
If you’ve had a hard time leaving work stress behind and tend to dump it on your partner as soon as you get home, build yourself a better buffer (or a buffer period. if you don’t even have one!) I’ve mentioned before on previous podcast episodes that we don’t pay enough respect and attention to periods of transition – the periods between one activity and another, one state of being an another. This can be anytime we are switching from one thing to another, for example, even if it’s when going from one exercise to another or from a workout to the cool-down. Or for when going from work to home, or maybe going from Mommy role to Wife role, or Girlfriend or whatever it may be. The idea is to take a moment to be mindful in our transitions so you can really tap into a conscious way of behaving and living that you’re really fully present. You’re not still at work in your head, but your feet are in the kitchen, making dinner, talking to your spouse. You know what I’m saying? Being mindful to ease yourself into a transition through a nice buffer period is what the recommendation is. So next time you sign off from work, spend a few minutes in silence to just make peace with what happened during that day and close that chapter energetically in your mind. Also taking a few cleansing breaths before switching gears to the next thing with full awareness and presence and intention is a good idea.
8. Clear your clutter.
Clear the clutter! It’s no secret that a messy space makes for a messy place inside your head. Before bedtime spend about 15 minutes tidying up and reorganizing your home and your home office. When you can easily locate what you’ll need first thing next morning, life runs more smoothly -that is for sure! I think this relates to the previous tip, #7, about the transition. To me, even when I teach my online classes, I have a little makeshift studio in my basement and no matter how tired or even hungry I am after a tough workout, I will always take a few moments to just tidy up. Therefore, next time I enter the space, it’s clean, it’s organized, it’s inviting. I don’t enter setting myself up for anxiety of going into the room and thinking “Oh, what a mess!” And God forbid, if I’m running late for the class, I would have to then tidy it up quickly, and be I’m all stressed out so I’d be starting the next class with bad energy.
So take that extra moment to close out the chapter by tidying up and clearing it out so you can breath metaphorically and literally. That way, the next time you enter the area, it’s a nice experience.
I do this in my bedroom as well. Every morning I make my bed, no matter how tired I am or how much I have to do whatever. Not only is it a ritual, but it makes my bedroom so warm and inviting and clean and just a beautiful, calm energy. It’s not just completely like a bomb went off. so clear your clutter. Take that extra few moments to just tidy up.
9. Read a newspaper rather than tracking the news online.
Well, first of all, I hope you’re not even watching the news online because I hope you know that it’s just a complete controlled media narrative by about an organization of about five or six different top people/organizations . Not to get off subject, but hopefully you know the messages in mainstream media, TV, internet, Google, FaceBook, etc are intentionally contrived propaganda and it’s a controlled narrative.
Hopefully you’re not even watching the news but rather getting your news and information from reputable, independent, free thinking sources but if you’re not, salacious sidebars on your screen can easily become time sucks that not only contribute to procrastination, but also prevent you from detaching for a more calming activity. The internet, social media, and I’m sure you know, Google, are BUSINESSES and that means their main objective is to MAKE A PROFIT. If you’re like most, you did not read the fine print where you “agree to the terms” and sign away your privacy so they track and sell all your clicks, all your likes, all your searches, everything. All the information that you’re seeing on your screen is contrived and controlled by an algorithm. In addition, everything that you’re inputting is logged into a database and then sold to companies so they can sell you things. So all those ads and things you’re seeing on your sidebars, including even on Amazon, the items that come up like “suggested” things for you to buy or view or when it says “viewers who bought that, also bought this…”, those are not random. They come up because everything you’ve done is being tracked and then sold to businesses who buy that information to then be able to target you because you are now their ideal customer. So please remember, that Amazon and Google and all social media, are businesses and they sell advertisements and they sell information. We’re in the age of information. The ads and the things that you’re seeing on these sidebars are not coincidental. Thus it’s a good idea to get your news and information from other sources that don’t have all that stuff and are in a non-censored, free market platform (and one with ethics and morals!)
10. Focus on reality
Gratitude and attitude quotes are everywhere and positive thinking rules the day, but slapping a smile isn’t going to solve every problem. I talk about this all the time and I’m glad the author agrees. Constant positivity, especially when it’s forced or insincere, can be a form of avoidance. Sometimes you need to take off the rose-tinted glasses to see your smudged cloudy challenges as they are. How are we going to learn if we don’t really pay attention and respect our feelings, whether they be good, bad, or indifferent?
All our feelings are information. Feelings are there to tell us something about our needs. So we don’t want to slap happy stickers on them. We don’t want to ignore them and pretend they’re not there and just put on the brave face and all that all the time. There might be a time and place for that, but when it comes right down to it, we want to ask ourselves: “Why am I feeling this?”, “What is going on?”, “What am I needing?”, “What am I wanting?” Focusing on reality is very important. And yes, still have those positive affirmations and definitely your gratitude list. That’s all important too, but you want deal with both sides of it.
11. Make a fun plan with the right people.
Spend time with people who are good for your mental health! Hallelujah! Make a fun plan. Do you have a fun plan? My gosh. When was the last time you had fun? That’s so important to do and to do it with the “right” people, not the doom and gloom people or the “we can’t” people or the “what are people going to think?” people. I say make plans with the people walking around with a lampshade on their head and wanting to just live life and experience and feel and be authentic and honest and real!
In fact, just the act of making plans creates good feelings of positive anticipation and it boosts your mood. I mean when was the last time you planned a trip and, you know how you felt, as soon as you booked that trip, what did you do? You had it on your calendar and you were looking forward to it, right? And every time you looked at it you got happy and excited.
We all need something to look forward to – this is very, very important for our emotional health and mental fitness! So gosh, if you don’t have anything that you’re looking forward to, it’s time to start taking action, taking responsibility and booking something you look forward to, even if it’s just a date out with friends or just something. Okay?!
12. The last and final tip for curbing anxiety is: Accept your anxiety
OK, maybe you have to work harder than other people to find a place of calm, but you know what? That’s okay. Sometimes letting go of the need to control outcomes leads to greater acceptance of your circumstances. Reflecting on what you’ve accomplished should bring on the realization that as uncomfortable as worries make you, your track record for eventually overcoming the issue and surviving is probably close to a hundred percent. Please don’t beat yourself up. It’s okay. You’re OK. Sure, maybe you tend to be anxious about some things and worry, but if you’re taking active steps to help yourself, let go of the need to be perfect.
Also please remember that self-acceptance is the beginning of change, and it’s certainly a requirement for self-love. I recommend that you say something like this to yourself: “Okay, I might be anxious about “xyz”, and yes, it might be a go-to feeling for me, but I’m going to take care of me and I’m going to look towards the me that I want to be.” Always refocus on the ideal you. The You you aspire to. And you know what? The good news is the “ideal you” is the authentic you. It’s not the fake you. It’s who you truly are inside wanting to come out and be expressed. If you even want to aspire to be different and better and a different type of person, that’s because that’s the real you wanting to come out and you’ll know because you feel in an alignment, you feel, as I’ve said in other podcast shows, your mind, body, spirit, feet are all standing in the same place. You feel strong. Solid. If you want to feel confident, that’s the way to feel confident my friend, let me tell you!
Accepting yourself as you are now, while still keeping an eye toward the you you aspire to be is very powerful and is necessary in order to be able to then grow into another, higher, more authentic version of yourself.– Amy Fournier
So there you have it, 12 ways to curb anxiety based on the article Linda Esposito, psychotherapist.
Which one was your favorite? I mentioned that my favorite was #1, which was “What is a different way of looking at my situation?” Just simply asking that question every time you start to feel palpitations or short of breath or are thinking obsessive about something is a simple but fantastic reframe. Which tips was your favorite? I’d love to know because I love hearing from you.