Are you looking for anxiety reduction ideas that really work? Anxiety and stress are related to sleep deprivation, dissatisfaction at work and in relationships, physical ailments such as headaches, and many more struggles that are common today. If you are coping with stress or anxiety, you may be searching for ways to improve your mood, experience more joy and hope, and feel more comfortable or confident in your day-to-day life.
Long-term strategies like psychotherapy, mindfulness practices, and prioritizing overall health are quite effective for managing anxiety and reducing its negative impact. While it’s vital to invest in yourself with ongoing processes like those listed above, there are also ways to relieve anxiety and stress that you can use to get results right now.
These three tools can be used today to relieve stress and improve your quality of life.
1. Get Into The Moment for Anxiety Reduction
Anxiety and stress take you hostage with thoughts about the past or future – taking you out of the present moment. You may notice that you try to control things by over-planning, over-analyzing, or obsessing over details.
Time thinking about the future will disconnect you from what your needs, thoughts, and feelings are right now. This is stressful for your brain and body to maintain. Bringing yourself back to your awareness of the present moment allows you to feel in control of yourself, rather than spinning in circles trying to plan a way to control something in your external world.
Here is a three-step challenge that you can use now to orient your mind and body in the present moment:
1. For a moment or two try to do nothing but breathe.
2. Look down at your body. Notice the color of your clothes, the comfort level of the chair you’re sitting in, and the way your chest moves as you breathe. Take your hands away from the computer, and rest them on your lap.
3. Look around you. Notice the detail about the things that are in your space. Try to observe without judging anything as good or bad. When your mind starts to wander, bring it back to focusing on this article – and this article alone.
2. Practicing Forgiveness for Anxiety Reduction
Have you heard that a grudge hurts you more than it hurts the other person? It’s better for your own health to forgive someone else instead of holding onto anger. Practicing forgiveness is also a way of releasing fear, anxiety, and stress! Forgiving someone else is allowing yourself to have a new experience – not necessarily of that person (let’s face it, sometimes we need to cut ties), but of the world and people in general.
Anxiety wants you to make negative assumptions about people and future experiences, convincing you that you’re being protected from more pain by assuming the worst. Forgiving will keep you open to new and better things.
Anxiety and stress are also linked to perfectionism. You may be convinced that you’re being responsible and dedicated when in fact you are carrying a heavy burden of doubt and negativity around with you as you try to accomplish tasks. Forgiving yourself sets you free from the burden of perfectionism, allowing you to accomplish more with more joy.
Here are two ways to practice forgiveness right now:
1. Take a moment to think of someone or something that you have been unable to forgive. Even if it’s not yet true, say aloud “I forgive you.” Practice it a few times, and try again tomorrow, until you are able to release yourself from the pain.
2. Think of a time that you tend to be critical of yourself. Is it difficult for you to allow yourself to make mistakes? Write yourself a note saying that you accept and forgive the mistake. Again, say it aloud to yourself: “I forgive you.”
3. Use Laughter and Joy for Anxiety Reduction
Laughter releases healing chemicals in the brain that bring relief. It also opens up the possibility to have a new experience in the moment. Novelty experiences, even small ones, are vital for daily stress management. Laughter can also help you experience an emotional connection with another person and help you create a positive memory.
In addition, connection with others is a key component to relief from anxiety symptoms, partially because experiencing frequent fear and stress can be isolating. Connecting through laughter (even via text message!) may break you out of a negative thought process. So, how can you bring some laughter, humor, and connection into your life today?
Here are three ways you can bring humor into your life right now:
1. Do something kind for a friend or acquaintance. It can be anything from sending a link to a funny video, writing a letter of gratitude, or taking time out of your day to help her. Look for the humor in a situation that might otherwise cause you to worry.
2. Do something today that is completely outside of your comfort zone. Put on music and dance, sign up for a martial arts class, or start up a conversation with a total stranger. Did you jump in and practice each example, or were you embarrassed, doubtful, or afraid?
3. Anxiety may try to stop you from giving these tools a legitimate try. Go for it anyway! You may surprise yourself with what you are able to experience and achieve.
How will you incorporate these tools into your life today?
Featured photo credit: Ryan McGuire via gratisography.com