The Benefits of Breathing:
Often when dealing with anxiety right on the spot, we completely forget how important your breathing is. The default breathing will usually be close to hyperventilation.This does not just come from something I read…I have to be aware of it as soon as I feel my heart beat speed up. Getting the oxygen into your body is important but so is the change of focus. When you are concentrating on your breathing it keeps your mind off the fact that you think you are dying. Slowly in through the nose…out through the mouth. Fill those lungs!
Some Positive Thinking
Thinking that negative thinking has no effect on your anxiety if far from the truth. If I was to pinpoint the single most important change I made to improve how I deal with anxiety it has to be changing my way of thinking. Changing your thought patterns from negative to positive rewires your brain. This can produce higher levels of serotonin and dopamine, while also decreasing your cortisol levels (your stress hormone).
Not only that but when you train your brain to think positive, you feel better as a whole. Everything we are revolves around how we think. Some thoughts still get the best of me but you have to keep trying. It gets easier over time. I don’t think my anxiety has ever brought with it positive thoughts.
A Little Gratitude Goes A Long Way
You’re not the only one who is convinced being grateful has nothing to do with your anxiety – we were once culprits as well. However, through our own personal experiences (and experiments), we have discovered that counting your blessings is a successful way to alleviate anxiety.
When you train your brain to focus on (and find) the good in a situation, it starts to rewire itself to produce more feel-good hormones, again that all powerful serotonin and dopamine. I started a gratitude notebook years ago as it was suggested by my Pastor at the time. You do not have to be religious to be grateful. Each night I think of 1 thing to be grateful for from the day. Now you may think like I did and believe that some days there is nothing. Wrong! You can always find something. It does not matter if the best you did was brush your teeth, or had something to eat or maybe someone said a little something positive to you…maybe you made it to the bathroom safely…there is always something no matter how small.
Once you start things get easier to find. You may even start to notice them during the day rather than just racking your brain at night. An attitude can be completely changed once you realize that no matter how rough life gets there is always something you can be grateful for.
Hoping and Wishing
If nothing is being done nothing will ever change. If I was to ask many what they do to help their anxiety many would not have an answer to the question.
The reality is, you cannot improve your anxiety if you aren’t doing anything about it. Yes, we all wish anxiety could disappear with a snap of our fingers but it just doesn’t happen like that. As the saying goes, everything in life worth having takes hard work. If you are serious about overcoming your anxiety, you have to be willing to work for it.
Do some research and read what others do. Make a commitment to yourself that you are going to stick to the process. It will be like trudging uphill on a mountain at first but as with everything it improves with practice. You do not need to become a constant victim to your anxiety.
Back to the Diet
Your diet is important. The things you put in your body play a direct role on how your brain functions. So, if you’re feeding your brain crap, you can expect it to operate the same way.
It’s easy to underestimate how important a clean diet is, but as soon as you take a couple of bites of real food, you will start to see the effects. So, strive to eliminate refined sugars, packaged food and fast food from your diet – to start.
The Gut Health Makes a Difference
Similar to the prior anxiety mistake, your gut health matters. Your digestive track has more to do with your mental health than you may realize. The two are very connected.
Your gut health plays a direct role in how your brain operates. There have been many studies that have shown the link between stomach bacteria (good and bad) and the effect it has on the regions of the brain that are responsible for producing anxiety and depression.
There is more awareness of the connection now than ever. Therefore more and more products are being developed to help improve your gut health. Take it from someone who has seen the results…it does make a difference.
7. Exercising Can Suck
Exercising is often the last thing you want to do after getting through a long, exhausting day of anxiety but you have to do it. No, you don’t have to pay for an expensive gym membership or sweat your life away on a treadmill. You just have to move.
A great one is practicing yoga daily, as it also exercises your brain and mental health while toning your body. However, any type of movement that gets your heart rate going will improve your anxiety, such as a daily 15-minute walk around the block.
It is just as effective for depression. Although it may be the most challenging of all suggestions, its impacts can be life changing.
The Joys of Mindfulness
I am going to do a post about Mindfulness because it is powerful. It is a form of meditation. Sounds difficult but it is a matter of focus. Closing out the rest of the world to only what you are focused on. It goes along with the breathing. I laugh when people with anxiety tell me they do not know how to meditate. With meditation you hyper-focus on one thing for a period of time. Oh 5 minutes sounds so long…how many hours have you spent worrying about something? Thinking the same thing over and over again while thinking of nothing else. Oh yes we were born to meditate!