In Seven Answers For Anxiety, Dr. Gregory Jantz presents seven simple and effective tips to reduce anxiety. Here are some easy-to-implement actions you can use today and every day to help maintain less anxiety in your daily life:
Be purposeful about relaxing.
Create a warm, comfortable space that is just for yourself. Find quiet time to reflect, pray, and be grateful.
Here’s an activity to help. We all want to keep our house clean, but it is easy to get behind. It can become a “chronic stress” point in our lives, even overwhelming. Create a cleaning plan that you can execute, is realistic, and one you can do.
For example, choose one room at a time. Write down what you want to accomplish– “get all dirty clothes off the floor and in the laundry room, and do one load today.”
Tomorrow, disinfect all handles, doorknobs, light switches and other high traffic/use areas.
If you have a spouse or partner, share your desire to reduce stress in your life. Ask them to help you. Do activities or listen to music that you enjoy. Consider a mobile app that has sleep stories, calming music, and activities to relax the mind. There are many good resources available for little or no cost.
Remind yourself you get to control your thoughts.
Use your self-talk to reinforce relaxing thoughts:
- “I’m working to be more calm today.”
- “I will smile and appreciate the little blessings in my life.”
- “I’m going to send a note to a friend or loved one and tell them I appreciate them.”
- “I will limit or avoid the news outlets that stress me.”
When you find yourself reverting to negative thoughts, stop yourself. Tell yourself, “I get to choose my thoughts,” and pivot to positive ones.
Practice letting comments or actions that normally cause you stress to roll off your back.
This can actually be easy, if you let yourself be graceful. Imagine a comment or an aggressive driver impacting your day. You get to choose how you respond. It is normal to feel your blood pressure rise.
Let that be your trigger to activate your inner voice, “I’m not going to let others impact my happiness and stress level. If I did something to inadvertently irritate them, forgive me. If they were in the wrong, relax and let it pass. If I feel I must address a biting comment, I can deal with it later when both of us are calm.” Practice this “habit” of de-escalation so it can become muscle memory for you.
Take 10 purposeful, deep, consistent breaths to start your day. Do the same before you go to bed.
This exercise establishes a habit pattern for you that says, “Relaxation is important to my mental health. I’m going to start and end my day with a purposeful exercise to reinforce the importance of this in my life.”
It also signals your body’s nervous system to be calm. Deep, stomach breathing is associated with a relaxed, calm state that your body recognizes. Deep breathing introduces more carbon dioxide into your blood.
More carbon dioxide quiets parts of the brain, like the amygdala. That’s the area of your brain that handles your anxiety response. More carbon dioxide helps synchronize your breathing and heartbeat, a state your body recognizes as being more relaxed.
There is HOPE
These are challenging times for many of us. But there truly is hope. You have the tools to de-stress your life and feel less anxiety. If you are struggling and these tips do not seem to be helping, please know that anxiety is treatable.
Dr. Gregory Jantz is with A Place Of Hope and is a licensed mental health counselor with a doctorate in counseling psychology and a world-recognized expert and innovator in the treatment of behavioral disorders and addictions.