Here are my top ten tips to help you feel calmer, happier and more peaceful and in control.
The number one thing that anxious people have in common is a tendency to overthinking and a difficulty being in the present moment.
Activities such as mindfulness meditation are supposed to help with this, but for many of us with anxiety, that can easily end up becoming a cerebral exercise and we worry about why it doesn’t feel calming.
Instead, try getting out of your head and into your body by doing something to connect with your body or with the natural world.
Go for a walk in nature. Walk barefoot. Sit in the garden. Do some gardening. Exercise. Have a massage. Play with children or animals. Swim in the sea or a lake.
You may find it surprisingly easy to notice the present moment while doing these activities and with practice you will be able to switch off that overthinking mind more and more.
The second main thing about anxiety is that your body is in a permanent state of hypervigilance and is constantly on the alert for imaginary or remembered danger.
Some people also find other activities such as reading, doing art or crafts, or listening to music, have a similar soothing effect.
3. Addressing the causes
If there is something in your life right now that is causing you anxiety, it is really important to try to take action to change that.
Often your current situation may be perfectly worry-free but you still suffer from anxiety due to old traumas. These can be addressed through therapy of various kinds, including EFT tapping with a qualified and experienced practitioner. (Read my blog: Is EFT Therapy?)
However, if there is a person in your life, or your work situation, or noise in your environment, or any other factor that is triggering your anxiety, see what you could do to mitigate that. Don’t ignore things that need to be fixed.
Think about your worries at certain times; at other times, redirect your attention (see point 4). Use your brain and powers of thought to try to solve problems but only at certain times of the day or on certain days. Make sure your thinking is about concrete actions and next steps rather than going off into a spiral of ‘what ifs’.
After solving what can be solved, practice redirecting your attention to something calming and absorbing. It is important to acknowledge the anxious feelings, and then consciously choose to concentrate on something else.
Perhaps choose a beautiful picture to hang on your wall and spend time looking at that, so that with practice you can also see it in detail in your mind’s eye in other situations outside of your home. Or you could pick a place in nature that you love, and connect with that. A pleasant memory that makes you feel calm and happy is another good starting point.
This is not escapism or daydreaming; it is acknowledging the feeling, knowing that you have done what you can about it (see point 3) and then gently training your mind to think of calmer and happier things.
All humans need connection, to give and receive love and friendship. Whether it is with friends, family members, or pets, talking things over and spending time with them can take you out of yourself and put the focus on others.
You could also consciously find ways to help someone, for example, do them a favour, shop for a neighbour, or volunteer at a charity shop or a soup kitchen.
6. Regular routine
Most of us with anxiety benefit from a regular routine – it is calming and reassuring. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, eat at the same times and exercise at the same times.
Don’t be too rigid though – we need to be able to adapt to life’s inevitable curveballs!
It can be really helpful to find out if you have any food allergies or intolerances by getting tested. Common intolerances are sugar, gluten and dairy, and cutting out these foods may magically improve your anxiety, general mood and energy levels. Be sure to replace them with plenty of fresh vegetables and high quality protein and fats.
I know, it’s easier said than done! It can become a vicious circle – anxiety prevents us from sleeping well, then when we are short of sleep we become more anxious. (Watch my video on Better Sleep with EFT Tapping)
Try your best to get good quality sleep and practise good sleep hygiene to maximise your chances of feeling calm and happy on a daily basis. Sleep hygiene includes making sure your bedroom is properly dark and a little on the cool side, not looking at a screen for a few hours before bed, and not consuming caffeine in the afternoon and evening.
We all know that exercise is good for us both physically and mentally. Find something you enjoy, whether it’s going for a daily walk, doing an exercise video at home, or going to the gym or a yoga class.
Competitive sports can be anxiety-inducing for some people, so be aware if that is the case for you and maybe choose something else.
10. Daily self-care
Make time to look after yourself every single day. It needs to be a priority and you can even schedule it into your diary. If you can make space and time to have awareness of how you are feeling and take actions to help yourself feel better every day, it will accumulate over time into better general well-being.
Some of these ideas may be more suitable than others, depending on the type of anxiety you have – for example, if you suffer from social anxiety, then there may be more limited options for activities which involve other people, and if you tend towards health anxiety, then too much focus on sleep, diet and exercise may not be so helpful for you. If you have obsessive tendencies, then having too much routine may turn into a source of anxiety when (as always happens from time to time!) you can’t keep to it one day.
I hope you choose a few tips to focus on that you may not have thought of before, and I wish you a calm and happy time going forward!
Anxiety can be a complex issue and many people benefit from one to one sessions with an EFT practitioner. If you'd like to find out how EFT could help you, please contact me to set up a free 20 minute chat!
Do join my free Facebook group where I regularly offer free group tapping sessions.
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