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Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Anxiety

Ultimate Guide: Self-Help Tips To Deal With Anxiety

Feeling overly anxious can be a massive hindrance to your daily life. It’s especially hard to control because once the anxious thoughts are implanted in our minds, the fears, ‘what ifs’ and worst-case scenarios can start to spiral out of control. Our sleep gets disrupted, our health can deteriorate and it can stop us from living our lives the way we’d ideally want to. In a word, anxiety can be paralysing and it can grow from small thoughts and doubts to big fears.

Learning to deal with anxiety can be hard but if you feel that you’re at a stage where you want to do something about it yourself then this guide will take you through some daily tips that you can do to relieve your anxiety and gain back some control for your life. Dealing with anxiety isn’t about just thinking positively, it’s a gentle process to train your mind to be more calm and to rein in the feelings of fear which are only created in your head.

Worrying is very hard to stop because it’s probably been a lifetime pattern of thinking that’s become almost automatic. If it’s something you’re prone to doing and have done for a long time, it may have just become a mechanism that you use to almost protect yourself – you’ve unconsciously trained your mind into immediately seeing the negatives and the problems in a situation rather than the positives. Gaining new perspectives as well as changing lifestyle habits and adopting techniques can help you on the way to curbing your anxiety issues.

Stage 1: Getting Perspective On Your Worries

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    Your beliefs are only in your head. It’s important to realise this because most of what’s going on in our minds aren’t reality. If you have fears and doubts they only exist because you’ve allowed them to and that doesn’t mean they’re real on the outside. If you really start to train your mind to think that irrational thoughts are just that, then you can start to ignite a different way of seeing your problems. Curbing anxiety starts with the mind, your perspective and the way you choose to see everything so here is the best place to start.

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    • Ask Yourself ‘Is It Possible To Solve The Problem’?

    There’s a difference between worrying and problem-solving. When we worry we believe that we are dealing with the problem because we temporarily detach from the emotions when we worry about it therefore it actually becomes a type of distraction. In this space we aren’t finding a solution we are just prolonging it in our minds. Instead of worrying, try intentionally thinking of a solution. If you find a solution then you diminish the worry you created in the first place.

    • Gaining Perspective

    Combating anxiety issues is mainly down to perspective. Worrying allows us to get a screwed up version of the problem and can even create a problem that wasn’t there in the first place. It’s really important to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable problems to reduce your amount of worry. Most of our problems can be solved possibly easier than we think so consciously trying to gain new perspectives and shifting our mindset will help deal with anxiety issues in a constructive way.

    • Challenging Your Anxious Thoughts

    The problem with suffering from anxiety is that we tend to believe our thoughts are fact. Challenging your thoughts is a way of not letting your mind give in to them and gaining some control. It’s good to get into the habit of examining your worries and anxieties and questioning them – we are so used to letting these thoughts runaway that they are never confronted and dealt with. Ask yourself some questions like what’s the likelihood of what I’m scared of actually happening? What evidence is there that makes this worry true or not true? Is there a better way to perceive this problem – a more positive one? Really try to challenge your thoughts and get your mind to think differently about them.

    Stage 2: Lifestyle Changes To Deal With Anxiety

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      There are many changes we can make in our daily lives that can contribute to less worry and anxiety. Creating and obtaining a healthy lifestyle can set us up to deal with anxiety better and more effectively. What goes on in our mind can transcend to the rest of our body and can start to take its toll.

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      • Creating An Exercise Routine

      As for a lot of stress and anxiety issues, exercise is a wonderful and necessary way to combat them. It’s so effective that in some cases, it has known to calm a person’s anxiety entirely. Releasing endorphins and getting the blood and oxygen pumping naturally clears your head of thoughts and allows your brain to relax. Getting rid of the tension caused by too much worry and stress will only serve you when it comes to the way you deal with thoughts of anxiety. After a good cardiovascular workout the benefits continue for hours and feeling good and positive from the workout will decrease significantly the negative thoughts and ideas that generate in your head.

      • Relaxation At Home

      It’s important to create a haven where you can ideally relax and escape from your worries and anxieties. Doing the things that relax you like a hot bath or shower, listening to calming music or reading books is crucial if you’re an overly-anxious person. Taking time out to sit quietly and do the things you love and make you happy will have a great effect on calming your mind. Often we forget to do these things or we bring home the anxieties of the day continuing the cycle. If you can try to break that cycle and just put time aside in your sanctuary even for 30 minutes to an hour, your body and mind will reap the benefits.

      • Eating Healthily

      There are many foods that can help and hinder your anxiety. Make sure you avoid alcohol, caffeine and sugar which are anxiety-inducing and can increase periods of worry. Many foods high in anti-oxidants help enhance your mood especially cranberries, blueberries and blackberries. Also include any food high in magnesium as lack of magnesium can trigger anxiety – oily fish, nuts, seeds and leafy green vegetables are a great addition. Caffeine-free tea like Oolong contains GABA which is an amino acid that helps with calming the nervous system and promotes sleep. It’s important to get a wide variety of healthy foods and supplements that promote a nutritious body and mind that will help you deal with anxiety more efficiently.

      Stage 3: Mindfulness Techniques To Deal With Anxiety

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        Since our mind is the number one culprit in worry, anxiety and stress, it makes sense to target the mind and create a calming influence on it. Suffering from anxiety means that we are not living in the present moment but rather worrying about something in the past or the future. It’s important to focus on the present – the here and now – to gain perspective. A calmer mind will equal calmer thoughts so it’s really important to focus on learning mindfulness techniques. These techniques are a wonderful way to train your mind to think differently, and again, can give you greater perspective in your world and the outer world.

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        • Practising Meditation

        There is so much research about how effective mediation is when it comes to anxiety and the stress that it causes. Regular mediation practice has been found to calm the body and the mind, reducing blood pressure, improving immune systems, enhancing mood and therefore reducing depression – so many benefits from just a simple routine you can do on a daily basis. Meditation will train your brain to focus which is a great skill to develop when you suffer from anxiety; it will reduce the stress you feel around problems and allow you to see problems more clearly.

        • Breathing Techniques

        Breathing techniques are a great way to counteract stress and anxiety. When we’re stressed and anxious we tend to make shorter and sharper breathes which results in an imbalance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. When we breathe deeply and calmly, we are sending more oxygen to the brain which allows us to relax, calm down and see things more clearly. When you find yourself feeling particularly anxious then stop and breathe deeply letting the breathe out slowly – doing this several times will help you reset.

        • Yoga And Mindful Walking

        Two great mindfulness practices are yoga and mindful walking. Yoga incorporates mediation with good stretching positions that are beneficial for your mind and body. It helps you to be mindful and relaxed helping to calm your thoughts and worries. Another great habit to have is mindful walking which involves taking a walk and focusing on your breathing, how your body is moving and taking in your surroundings. It’s a great way to train your mind to think about the present moment rather than be living in the worry of the past or the future.

        Stage 4: Further Practical Techniques To Deal With Anxiety

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          Sometimes you just need techniques that you can pull on when you’re feeling the anxiety levels rising up. These are handy to have when you feel overwhelmed.

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          • Repeating Your Worry

          This may seem counterproductive but experts say that repeating your worry over and over will cause you to get bored of it. When we adapt to something we become more comfortable with it so when you find yourself feeling anxious about something in particular then deal with it head-on by thinking about it and thinking about it and thinking about it! Eventually your brain will get sick of it or bored and the thought will start to become less and less.

          • Setting Aside A Particular Time To Worry

          Let’s face it, we are never going to get rid of our ability to worry. It’s quite ingrained and all of us worry to some degree. The problem with having anxiety issues is that we tend to worry all the time. They crop up here there and everywhere; our brain wanting to stew over them there and then. This can take its toll on our mind and our body causing fatigue and tiredness which just adds to stress and more worry. Try setting up a particular time to process your worries preferably at the end of the day. Write them down when they come up and set it aside to think about later. The beauty of this is that you’ll find a lot of your worries won’t exist anymore by the end of the day – and if they still do then your worry time can deal with it.

          • Making Peace With Time

          The problem with anxiety is that time can feel like it’s running out or slowing down. Things can feel like an emergency or that you’re waiting forever for something to happen or not happen. Try to make peace with time in that most of our worries either never materialise or float away eventually. Remember how many times a problem never turned out to be a problem; that emergency was never an emergency. Stop and ask yourself if you’re really going to be worrying about this in the next hour, day, month or year? By doing this you can put less significance and importance on what’s causing you the anxiety.

          Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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          Jenny Marchal

          A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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          Published on January 17, 2020

          How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

          How to Learn Yoga (The Beginner’s Guide)

          If you think yoga can be learned on the mat, you’re wrong! To learn yoga is to learn yourself, your life and the world around you, which happens mostly off the mat.

          Since 2000, I study, practice, teach and live yoga – I grow with it from year to year – hence life becomes more interesting and more meaningful from year to year, too. Through all these years, I observe the evolution of yoga in the western culture and see, how (mostly) wrongly, has been interpreted, taught and practiced. Little is known about how to learn yoga – about its practice, its effect and its application. Yoga is all about finding the simplicity and the meaning in the complexity of life.

          But when we look around us, it doesn’t seem so simple, even for those who practice it, and for the most who teach it. Everything about yoga begins in its definition from the original yogic scripture Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.[1]

          And the value for how to learn yoga, is in this article – showing the value of the above definition and how to practice it in the simplest way, effectively and efficiently.

          What is Yoga?

          Yoga-Citta-Vrtti-Hirodhah — and its translation is: Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations arising within consciousness.

          The 195 Sutras, that the original yoga scripture consists of, are written in a strongly compressed manner with the idea to deliver a profound meaning and a lot of space for interpretation. However, the interpreter must be highly serious and competent, otherwise the interpretation will drastically deviate from what the message conveys.

          When the definition about yoga is interpreted and applied the right way, it tells us how yoga is to be practiced and explored. To start the right way, we must know the right destination of yoga, which is Kaivalya:[2] The union between you, the other and the world.

          Let’s see how to do that:

          Beginning with the famous mainstream slogan “Union of Body, Mind and Soul”, brings up the question, “How to reunite the body, mind and soul?”

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          Your feelings – created by outside stimuli result in the creation of thoughts, hence there’s connection between your body and mind. That’s easy to understand, right?

          Now this connection and the thoughts must serve and improve the mind, making it capable to 1) understand the soul and 2) to unite it with the body and mind. That’s where our journey towards the goal of yoga (Samadhi) is interrupted – making the main part of the union not easy to understand, even less so to accomplish.

          Yoga is More Spiritual than Physical

          This is what makes yoga more spiritual than physical. To put it in numbers, yoga is 97% of psychological, philosophical and spiritual nature and only some 3% of physiological, considering that there are only seven out of 195 Sutras referring physiologically to sitting and breathing, of which I talked in my earlier post on Yoga For men.

          But before experiencing any spirituality from yoga, there is the mental (emotional) part that needs to be mastered and that part is to establish a connection between the body and mind. How?

          The simple thought and realization that you are conscious of how you feel within your body (cold, warm, relaxed, depressed, anxious, happy and so on), means that you have made the union between your body and mind. (below the step by step exercise for that).

          But to establish a connection to your soul – to the finest part of yourself – the Self:

          You must find out (through thinking) what is the subtlest thing that drives your body and mind – yourself as an individual and use that driver to go pass beyond your physicality and mentality.

          It is right here that you use the definition about yoga and the realization – the moment, where you are not analyzing any thoughts or feelings. This is a state of Yoga – a state of union between body, mind and soul, in which your consciousness has ceased to identify with its fluctuations.

          Yoga as Creativity and Expertise of the Individual

          In such a case, there is no specific (like beginners, intermediate or advanced) technique for learning yoga. The moment of the state of yoga arises for everyone of us in an individual way as everybody’s physique and mental content are different. You might be very well advanced in performing the most difficult asanas for decades but still unable and incompetent to be in a state of union with your body, mind and soul. Whereas, if you are a beginner and possess the grace and other virtues, than it’s easier and quicker to establish that connection.

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          As yoga is an inherent part of the human being, firstly, in order to pave the yoga path successfully and effectively, you must understand that yoga is not a technique for performance, but rather a creativity and expertise of yourself.

          Your learning process cannot be focused on, nor conditioned by a certain handbook, someone’s instructions or some specific school.

          Learning yoga requires your creativity to look within yourself and learn from yourself, become the expert of your feelings, emotions and desires. You, as a beginner might already possess many qualities and prerequisites for creating the union between your body, mind and soul, but your knowledge requires creativity for your growth to reach the state of union and then reap the fruits of that union. Once this happens there is no turning back – you’ll be pulled by the beauty and energy of your on being.

          Be Fast Mentally and Slow Physically

          As already mentioned, you don’t need to do physical performances like the split or the headstand to be able to immerse in a deep meditation or Samadhi. But you do need enough creativity for your self-inquiry.

          Many of my students start working directly with meditation – attending the complexities of the mind, because that’s where the hindrances lie. There, the meditator is able to work on the cessation of identifying with the fluctuations of the consciousness – where intelligence expands, adversity ends and the individual is ready to pass through its physicality and mentality in order to reach the union with the soul.

          But if you’re really a beginner and cannot start with that, then you can start enhancing your creativity on the body-mind level. The exercise follows in the next paragraph.

          The greater your creativity, the better your expertise about yourself – the deeper your competence to inquire further into the union with your soul. Sure enough that a more pliable and healthy physical body has some advantages and better preconditions for that, but don’t get discouraged because your body-mind union will open up the way.

          So here we are, you are at the moment to enhance your creativity upon that union. Please, take this as a very serious part of the practice as it is crucial for learning yoga – for learning yourself.

          The Beginner’s Exercise – Creativity upon Body-Mind Union

          The first and most important element to learn and practice yoga is of physiological and psychological nature: Stillness:

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          1. Make sure your body is still and comfortable.
          2. Focus on breathing to initiate observing.
          3. Observe your body and identify the first feeling that occurs to you.
          4. Keep identifying feelings and emotions, but without getting involved with them.
          5. Now create feelings and emotions as you please and let them go.

          That’s it! That’s the creativity upon the body-mind union. The validity of this creativity lies in the stillness and observance of that union. In this practice you can learn to understand and catch the moment – the main ingredient of life.

          Life is a sequence of moments and knowing that you’re able to manage that sequence is a new level of living life, called dharma – the practical and skillful way of living. An essential character develops as a result of practicing this discipline.

          However, be aware that we are still talking about outward elements of yoga – the gross levels (from Yama to Pratyahara) whereas the subtle, inward elements (Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi) are yet to be approached, learned and implemented. It is on these subtle levels that you can realize the depth of spirituality and the essence of yoga.

          It is remarkable how the science of yoga can take you in such heights and depths of exploring life and being. Little is known about the essence and the right practice of yoga in the west. There is a huge knowledge gap between how yoga should be learned and how it is practiced today in the west. You can bridge this gap by practicing the above exercise.

          Know that yoga is of a very subtle nature – operating on a subtle energetic level – the level of your mental energies, your thoughts. That means that it is to be learned at that level and not on any other. A body posture alone cannot take you to that level if you don’t apply your creativity and self-inquiry.

          Prerequisite for Yogic Success – Union between You and the Other

          Yoga is nothing, if our relationships with others are not managed harmonically.

          Learning yoga is also learning connecting with the other – with the stranger who’s not you but carries the same “core”, the same heart as you. We as individuals, possess the inborn feature of Ego – the “I-consciousness” that makes us feel separate from the rest of what makes the wholeness.

          This separation is the second of the the five “klesah” afflictions[3] – that stand as major hindrance against the union (Yoga) – called “asmita” or I-am-ness / Egoism (Y.S. II.6.), and has to be cultivated and brought to a level of discernment that will lessen our disturbance that comes out the fragmentation between the “I-am-ness” and the “Other-ness”.

          This is a crucial concept in Yoga and it is inevitable to be worked upon this hindrance in order to reach the inner “psychological” freedom or the ultimate liberation “Kaivalya” for which Yoga stands for. But, again, if you are beginner in this part, you want to know how to start dealing with all this. Here is the exercise:

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          1. Practice observance from the first exercise.
          2. Realize that the structure of your feelings, emotions, etc. is identical with the one of the other individuals.
          3. Practice witnessing, tolerating and gradually accepting the diversity between yourself and the other individuals.
          4. Observe for so long with equanimity, until you see the uniformity in that diversity.

          This is one of the greatest accomplishments a human being can achieve. To be, means, to be in relationship – internally, as well as externally.

          Yogic Lifestyle – Union Between You, The Other and The World

          Here comes the last piece of the puzzle – the union – on the highest level of worldly existence – between you, the other and the world. This means that Yoga is also worthless if practiced only on the mat. So when learning yoga, especially when practicing the body-mind union, consider if:

          You speak the language of nature and how you’re connected to nature and its basic elements? Do you complicate your existence by thinking that you are in the center of the world and require extra attention and acknowledgement?

          Thinking this way interferes with the practice of yoga. And surely, you might wonder, what should be done here in order to create that harmony in union? You’d be amazed to know that there is one important yogic movement that needs to be done. That is:

          The action of not doing anything but contemplating! Then yoga happens.

          Yes, this goes beyond the physicality and mentality of your being. As our bodies play just a tiny part of the evolution of existence, we must not attach to the world in that sense – clinging to worldly life with that insatiable urge that generates worries and anxiety – but rather grow through life with detachment and the attitude that life has been gifted to us with the purpose to realize that gift and attain the wisdom of life.

          Go Beyond Your Physicality and Mentality

          Attaining greatness like connecting to the world and to your soul, we must pass beyond the thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the influence they have on us. Hence we want to make the mental fluctuations to cease and let yoga shine its light through this yogic movement:

          The stillness and the watching within.

          Can yoga be understood and achieved in one single session and then practiced continuously, productively and effectively? Of course it can. Your union within yourself, the other and the world is lot simpler and easier than you think. Practice these simple yogic movements diligently, seriously but also effortlessly and your yoga will be flourishing and fruitful. I salute the spirit in you!

          More About Yoga

          Featured photo credit: Avrielle Suleiman via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
          [2] Wikipedia: Kaivalya
          [3] Plato Stanford: Klesah

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