As the title suggests, this piece is about tools that have helped me in my everyday life. I’ll be honest from the start – getting rid of anxiety is hard work, and you have to do it all by yourself. I wish it was easier and I wish there was an overnight solution, but I can promise you this – it is easier fixing it than actually living with it.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to suffer from a disorder to actually apply this. I have seen that these habits help with stress management in general. Much needed in today’s world, don’t you think?
Anyway on a happier note, these are things that actually help! So I’ll cut to the chase…
15 things you can apply in daily life to reduce stress and anxiety –
(i) Support from family and friends – I know it is not easy to disclose something so personal. But that’s what friends and family are for. Find the people who will listen to you, support you and help you regain your confidence. An evening out with your friends is the best therapy there is. Don’t confuse their support with pity.
(ii) Find something you look forward to doing – Stress and anxiety fills you with negative thoughts and its very easy to be enveloped by that. You know when people say “Oh! Just think positive!” and you know it’s easier said than done, that’s what finding a hobby helps you with. It tricks your mind into preoccupying itself into thinking about your hobby and what you will do next. This blog did that for me. Now instead of sitting and brooding all day about the bad hand that life dealt me, I think about the next article I will write. Pick anything – cooking, reading, painting, yoga. Whatever you can’t have enough of. Anything that can be an outlet for your creativity. But word of caution – you will try a few things before you find that one thing you can’t stop thinking about. Keep trying!
(iii) Take more vacations – Travelling is the most therapeutic thing in the world. It doesn’t have to be a long sabbatical or an expensive affair. Just a short break away from daily routine and the monotony of life. When you come back, you’ll find everything exactly how you left it, except yourself.
(iv) Diet and well-being – Take care of yourself! Physical well-being will impact your mental and in turn your emotional well-being. Eat well, make sure you always have a store house of energy. Low energy causes anxiety in everyone. Vitamins, protein bars, fruits and juices – whatever is your poison (well, your elixir in this case). Remove excessive caffeine, sugar and alcohol that make you temporarily feel good.
(v) Listen to your body – If you have anxiety, it is very safe to say that you are very self-aware. So don’t fight what your body is telling you. Listen to it, and work around it. Sometimes you don’t want to make the extra effort just because laziness sets in, other times you genuinely are being too hard on yourself. Recognize this, and move forward accordingly.
(vi) Positive affirmations – Your confidence and inner peace will take the first hit of anxiety and stress. It is not easy to keep reminding yourself of your positive attributes. Write it on your mirror. Insert a note behind your phone. Any place that you look often – write it in bold letters how awesome you really are and how far you have come.
(vii) Gratitude – Just like we forget to appreciate ourselves, we also forget to appreciate the good things in our life. Our world starts spinning around that one negative in our life. That’s fine, crib all you want. But first thing in the morning, or the last thing at night, just think of 3 things that you love about your life. This requires the least amount of effort compared to all the work you are about to put in, but it goes a long way!
(viii) Acceptance – ok, so life has been unfair. Your friends and family don’t have to put in all this effort towards their well-being and they get by just fine. Why you? Why now? Familiar thoughts? But let’s be honest, these thoughts aren’t taking your problem away. What really helped me was realizing how anxiety has changed me for the better. I am more compassionate now, I care about others more, I listen to them, I have realized the importance of people whom I love, of doing what I love and I have learnt to prioritize my true priorities. I have grown by leaps and bounds as compared to before. I guess this is how people evolve, and call wisdom.
(ix) Meditation – still your mind. Listen to guided meditation. I tried a million times and failed! But here is what works for me – I put on guided meditation on YouTube, put on earphones and listen while I sleep. The subconscious is a powerful thing, and you will be surprised how different you feel in the morning. Here is my go-to link for guided meditation
Find one that works for you
(x) Therapy and medication – don’t be afraid of either. Sometimes one works without the other, but more often than not they will work in conjunction. If you have a physical illness, you will seek professional advice of a doctor, right? If you have a splitting migraine, you will take medication, right? Same thing! Make yourself feel better today! Don’t worry about future side effects. Conversely, don’t be afraid to get off your medication and therapy. These are tools that will help you in your recovery, but you alone have done it for yourself, and you will always be equipped with your strength. Having said that, please don’t self medicate but rather follow a doctors advise. Also find yourself the right therapist. Not all work for you. Not that one is better than the other. Well, that too! But therapist and patients are like a match made in heaven, you have to find your ideal one!
(xi) Do what you love – Don’t deprive yourself of anything. I have mostly read that you should cut out caffeine, alcohol etc from your life altogether. While this is good advice, I do enjoy my daily cup of earl grey tea in the morning, or a glass of red wine with my husband on a Friday night in front of the tv. It gives me immense happiness, and something to look forward to. So cut out the excess but don’t cut it completely out of your life. Do whatever makes you happy, don’t be too hard on yourself. Life is not a boot camp and you definitely don’t want it to feel like one.
(xii) Exercise and pets – wondering what’s common between these two and why I’ve combined them? Simply because I can’t do either. But light yoga and playing with my friend’s pets has always made me feel better. So I can just imagine the power of regular exercise and having a pet! Try it and let me know if it works for you!
(xiii) Talk to or smile at strangers – you can’t imagine how nice this step feels. I don’t even know why this should be a conscious effort, we should all be doing this anyway. If you are flying, make friends with the air hostess or your seat neighbor. Smile at the guy who bags your groceries everyday, ask your cabbie how his day has been. You will absolutely love this one, trust me!
(xiv) Take the easy way out sometimes – why do we think that the hard way is always the right way or if we take the tough way out we will be more successful? Believe that you deserve every comfort in the world. If it makes you less anxious taking a cab, do it! Hate flying? Don’t book tickets until the last-minute. So it will cost you more, big deal! If you take care of yourself, your self will reciprocate! One fine day it will tell you, “today I am ready to take a train”. Be good to yourself and watch it be good to you!
(xv) Exposure – I left the hardest one for the end. Hate to break it to you but you won’t even know you are better unless you try. Put yourself in uncomfortable stressful situations. It is soooo hard, probably the worst thing in the world. Do it with someone’s help. Do it in baby steps. Do it when it you are comfortable. But do it. There will be days you can’t and you will want to give up. But then there will be days when you can! And oh my god, the adrenaline rush from overcoming your fear is the best feeling in the world. It is right up there with taking off a pair of heels after a long night out! The happiness and confidence you gain after is worth every single ounce of effort you had to make to get out of your comfort zone.
Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? Don’t worry, try them one by one. They are not a cure anyway, and not everything will resonate with you. But if any of these work, they will silently become a part of your life and you will be a better person for it.
Do you know of other ways that help? Share it with me! Let’s spread the word..