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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 August 16, 2019

          15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

          15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

          When you choose the right exercises, and make strength training a priority, it will have a great payoff to improve your running. Studies have shown incorporating a strength training program to your running routine improves running economy.[1]

          Here are 15 strength training exercises specifically for runners.

          1. Planks

          The plank is a very important core exercise that will help give you more control and balance while running. Having a strong core will also keep you more stable and in control if you have to navigate uneven surfaces.

          The plank is a simple exercise and involved balancing on your forearms and the tips of your toes, so that your back is “straight as a plank”. You want to focus on keeping your abs tight and imagine sucking your belly button up into your spine to have them properly engaged.

          Aim for 30 to 45 seconds for a few rounds. Ultimately, you want to hold them as long as you can with proper form – so every time you perform a plank you want to go a little longer than previous ones.

          2. Side Planks

          The same concept is applied but you are now engaging your core in a different manner and engaging your oblique muscles too. This time, you are going to lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other.

          You will lean on your right forearm and lift your hips off the ground keeping your head lined up with your torso and ankles. Keep your other hand on your hip to help ,and control balance, and focus on not moving or swaying. Keep your abs tight to engage them and hold for 30-45 seconds, or longer if you can.

          3. Clamshells

          For this exercise, you are going to need a simple resistance band. Start with the band wrapped around both legs just below the knee. Your starting position will be on the ground lying on your side with your top hip and shoulder pointing towards the ceiling. Your hips will be on the ground, keep your back straight and your feet together, and lift up with your top knee as far as you can with the resistance.

          Pause for a second at the top and lower back down under control. You can do 10 reps on this side before switching over and doing another 10 reps and aim for 2 to 3 sets.

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          Clamshells are going to help strengthen your abductor muscles giving you stronger hips and more stability while running.

          4. Single-Leg Bridge

          You will start lying on your back with your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart with knees bent. You will straighten out one leg so it’s out in front of you in the air and lift your body up by pushing with the leg on the ground.

          You want to flex your abs and glutes while pushing upward and try to keep your hips level throughout the motion before returning to the ground. You can also hold your body in the upright position for 5-10 seconds before returning to the ground to get more engagement before switching over to the other leg.

          The single-leg bridge will help strengthen your glutes which are crucial for running power and stride strength.

          5. Standing Calf Raises

          This is a simple exercise but one that is very important for strengthening the calves. The stronger they are, the less fatigue you will experience during running. You will need to find an elevated step or platform for this exercise.

          Stand on the platform with your heels hanging off the edge. Find something stable to hold on to for balance and start by lower your heels down until you feel a stretch in the back of your calves. Then, stand upwards like you are trying to see over a fence. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

          6. Arch Lifting

          You will start out standing with your feet directly under your hips, and this is best done without shoes. You will rotate the arch of your foot upward while keeping your toes and heels in contact with the ground.

          Don’t let your toes tighten and you want to hold for a few seconds at the top before returning to the ground. You can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions and this is going to help strengthen the arches of your feet.

          The stronger your arches are the better it is to keep your running stride strong and prevent less fatigue in the feet.

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          7. Half-Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch

          Strong hips are paramount for running and the hip flexors can easily become strained and overused. This exercise will help to strengthen them and provide more power and stability while running. You will start kneeling with one foot forward and the other knee bent underneath the hip.

          Keep your abs tight, your back straight, and shift your body weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds before switching over to the other leg.

          8. Alternating Lunges

          These are going to develop power and strength in your quads and glutes to help give you a more powerful stride. You will start standing with your hands on your hips looking straight out in front of you.

          Step forward with your right leg and lower down just before your opposite knee touches the ground. Then, push through your heel to return to the standing position before performing the lunge with your left leg. Alternate between the right and left leg so that each one has done 10 reps and you can perform 3 sets of this.

          9. Jump Squats

          These can be done just with your bodyweight and help to develop explosive power in the lower body. The jump squat is handy for when you have to run hills and need more power for harder stretches of your run.

          The best way is to start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. You will drive through the heels of your feet and explode upwards. As your bodyweight brings you back to the ground, control your weight as you go back into the squat position to fully engage the muscles.

          Make sure not to let your knees move inwards and keep your abs tight, your head up, and your chest out. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.

          10. Skater Hops

          This will help to build leg and core strength, along with improving balance. You will start standing upright but then bending the knees slight like you’re about to sit down. You will then drive off your right foot, jumping a few feet out to the left.

          You will land on your left foot while your right foot swings behind your left leg. Then, drive off the left foot using the momentum of your right foot swinging back to land back on it. You will keep doing these side hops for ten times each leg and the motion should look like a speed skater shifting side to side.

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          11. Bulgarian Split Squat

          This will be similar to the lunges but, will really ramp up the resistance for the quads and is a great strength training exercise for runners. You are going to need an elevated surface or bench to stand in front of. The starting position will be standing upright with your head up and hands on your hips.

          Start with your right foot behind you supported by the bench. You will start by lowering your hips to drops your left leg down to around a 90-degree angle, stopping just before your right knee hits the ground.

          Next, push up through the heel until you are back at the starting position and perform ten reps, under control, before you switch over to the right leg. Perform 3 sets of this.

          To make this even tougher, you can hold dumbbells in your hands hanging at your sides.

          12. Arabesque

          These will help in activating and controlling your hips. You will start off by standing on one leg, hands on your hips, and making sure your hips are level and balanced. You can then put your arms out to the side to give you more balance.

          Start by tipping your torso forward as your non-weight-bearing leg extends out behind you. You can slightly bend your knee to help with control and you want to have your back and extended leg as level as possible. You should end up basically parallel to the floor with your shoulder, hip, and ankle should be in a straight line.

          When you’ve gone as far forward as you can, return to the starting position and perform 8 repetitions before switching to the other leg.

          Perform 2 to 3 sets. These are all about quality over quantity so if you can only do 4 or 5, that’s fine.

          13. Hip Bridge

          This is another great exercise to target the glutes which are the source of your running power. Start by lying on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Squeeze your glutes and then lift your hips up towards the ceiling.

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          Your hips, knees, and shoulders should be in a straight line. Hold at the top for a second and then lower back down under control. Perform this 12 times and then, you can do 3 sets. If these get easier, you can hold a weight across your stomach for more resistance.

          14. Push-Ups

          A classic exercise, and for good reason. As much as you want to focus your strength training on the lower body, you can’t neglect your upper body. Your arms are helping drive and propel you while running and a strong upper body helps with your overall balance and stability.

          You can start laying facedown on the ground with your palms facing downwards and elbows tucked into your sides. Focus on pushing through the heel of your palms upward, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Lower back down under control and stop just before your chest touches the ground.

          Focus on keeping the elbows tucked into your side and avoid having them flail outwards. You can perform 10 reps for 3 sets of these.

          15. Squat to Overhead Press

          This is a full-body motion that works a majority of muscles, builds power, explosiveness, and coordination. You will need two dumbbells and you will start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, with the dumbbells, held up by your shoulders – palms facing forward.

          Send your hips back and lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead and return them to the starting position. Go for 10 reps and three sets.

          The Bottom Line

          As much as you’d like to, you can’t be running all the time. It can lead to overuse, injuries and burnout. The perfect way to offset this is with strength training, making sure you perform your training with proper form and technique, avoiding mistakes which can lead to injury.

          There are many other strength exercises such as the deadlift, which works the back and leg muscles which are vital for running economy improvement and injury prevention.[2] These exercises will make you a more efficient and resilient runner allowing you to improve your distances and times.

          Even if you’ve been against strength training for runners, you can see now how it’s necessary in order to improve your overall running ability and performance.

          Featured photo credit: Stage 7 Photography via unsplash.com

          Reference

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