7 Ways to Lower Anxiety Naturally
It doesn’t matter how enlightened, spiritual, zen and chill you think you are, anxiety is going to come up.
You might think you are not an anxiety sufferer, but it’s impossible to not have at least an occasional flare up. (Hello – we are in a global pandemic and have been living in some form of abnormal social distancing bordering on isolation for months now!)
Unfortunately, anxiety and worry are a part of the human condition. Anxiety is an almost unavoidable response when there’s an unexpected or unwanted ripple in your emotional waters.
What causes anxiety?
Anxiety is usually the result of some kind of stress. Either a big event, like a death in your family or the loss of a job, or a buildup of smaller life stressors, like ongoing worry about money, relationships, or health.
“Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress; an apprehension of what’s to come, making you feel fearful and nervous.” – healthline.com
People with certain types of personalities are more prone to suffer anxiety, but everyone gets their fair share, so it’s worth considering a few ways that are commonly suggested to relieve anxiety.
Tips to Try if You Are Feeling Anxious
Here are seven tips to give a try when you feel mounting or lingering anxiety draining your energy, knotting up your stomach, and distracting your mind from you enjoying a healthy, productive focus.
1. Do things that feel good.
It seems obvious, but when you’re super anxious, you forget. Reach for the go-to thing that nearly always helps improve your mood. No, not the wine, chocolate, or chips. Reach out to a friend who always manages to talk you off the ledge; put on the music that always lifts your mood; tickle your cat or smooch your dog; curate a social media feed that inspires you.
2. Practice gratitude.
Gratitude may seem like the opposite of what you could feel when you’re anxious, but inviting gratitude truly helps you find perspective. Putting what’s stressing and worrying you into perspective is a sure-fire anxiety reducer. It doesn’t make the stressor go away (which we can’t often do anyway) but it can help you calm down and see the bigger picture. Gratitude helps you admit to yourself, it actually could be worse. And in focusing on the good, you will get past these troubles. There are always parts of your life to be thankful for and appreciate, even amidst the challenges.
It doesn’t have to be pretty prose written with a feather-quill in a leather-bound notebook. A piece of copy paper or the backside of junk mail works just as well. Jot down what’s on your mind. Scribble, without self-judgement, every worry that is knotting up your insides. Without trying to find a solution… just to have a place to unload the fears, worries and stress. Sometimes getting it out of your head and into ink can relieve you from feeling you might “forget” what’s bothering you. And that alone can provide relief.
“Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.’ – English proverb
Recentering and refocusing your thoughts on the present moment can help lower anxiety. Taking a few slow deep breaths physically calms your heartbeat and blood pressure.
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Intentionally focusing on your breath for a few minutes brings you present to this moment, resetting your mind from the cycle of reviewing the past or anxiously trying to predict future outcomes. Which, btw, is often where anxiety stems from: the fear of what might happen in the future moments/days/weeks/months because of what transpired in the past moments/days/weeks/months.
“Anxiety is nothing but repeatedly reexperiencing failure in advance. What a waste.” – Seth Godin
Practicing mindfulness or even grounding can help you move your emotions from your head to your heart and to bring yourself back to the present moment which is, after all, the only moment you have any real control over.
5. Sleep better.
Create a pre-bedtime ritual. Do a few simple things before heading to bed to help you unwind and release some anxiety to encourage a more restful night. Take a bath, use essential oils, read a calming passage from a book, pray, journal, drink herbal tea. Set yourself up for the calmest possible thoughts before slipping under the sheets.
Physical exercise is almost always an anxiety reducer and a way to manage stress. It provides a mental distraction and releases endorphins in the brain that act as natural mood improvers.
7. Take care of yourself.
Times of high stress and anxiety beg for you to up your self-care. What are you doing to help yourself improve your mood and reset your mind? What could help shift how you feel to lower anxiety and find clarity for solutions or ideas on how to better cope?
Do what always works for you or try something new, i.e. sit outside, give yourself a pedicure, get a massage, volunteer to help someone with bigger problems, take an online yoga class, paint, draw, meditate, sing, dance, see your chiropractor, call your kid, schedule an acupuncture, reiki, chiropractic session, revisit meditation, send someone you love but can’t visit a letter… You get the idea. Self-care that makes you feel a little better, a little more cared for, will naturally shift your anxiety down a few notches.
Anxiety can be debilitating for some. If you suffer severe anxiety, the best tip of all is to seek the guidance of a health care or mental health professional.
Accept that some anxiety is unavoidable.
Life can be quite the emotional roller-coaster ride, right? And this year has been particularly bizarre and anxiety-inducing for many. Lowering your anxiety can seem impossible but using some simple go-to anxiety reducing tips can hopefully help you through.
Looking to dig deeper into how to use journaling to reduce anxiety and feel better? Check out Journal to Joy, my self-paced online course designed to show you exactly how to journal for the greatest emotional transformation (in just 10-minutes a day!) – Details here.