6 Things I Do Every Day to Lower My Anxiety
Feeling anxious is no one’s cup of tea. These are the six most important things I do each day to counteract my anxiety.
1. Slow Mornings
I have an amazing, talented, beautiful friend who during our last visit told me about slow mornings. How did I not know about this? For those of us who work from home, it can be really hard to separate work time from personal time. In my recent transition to a home office, I find a lot of my work time is bleeding into my personal life because it’s just so easy to check my social media metrics or respond to an email when everything is on my phone (and because I’m obsessed with my job). I didn’t realize what a bad stress cycle this was putting me and my relationships into. Who wants to work every minute of every day, or be around someone who is constantly working?
It was at the height of this stress that I learned about slow mornings. Over tea with my friend, I tried to pick up my jaw off the floor when she told me she doesn’t start work until 1 p.m. What? But how do you get enough done in the day? That’s when I realized slow mornings were not necessarily about productivity, but about sanity. It was about living a more full and less manic life. It was about scheduling and being responsible and gentle with my time. Imagining what this could be like in my own schedule, I suddenly felt lighter and less stressed. I couldn’t wait to try it out when I got back from the trip. I even made it a priority to create space for slow mornings in my bullet journal so I could hold myself accountable for trying and maintaining them. ( If you’re not aware, bullet journals are a great creative scheduling tool if you’re looking for a way to keep track of appointments, to-dos and habits. You can check out mine on Instagram at @lealikesdesign.)
Spoiler: Slow mornings worked wonders for my stress and anxiety. Now when I wake up in the morning, I feel like I have time to breathe before my day gets going. I can let my mind stay in morning mode and then gradually switch to work mode. I don’t have to wake up in it. I can eat my breakfast without trying to rush or multitask. Some mornings, I read or catch up on my own personal projects. It can be a little difficult at first to get into the swing of slow mornings, but once you set and schedule your time, the days become a little more relaxed and, dare I say, fun.
I’ve finally found my favorite YouTube yoga teacher. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll mention it again — YouTube yoga is amazing, free and so easy to access. Sometimes I’m too lazy to motivate myself to go to a yoga class, and I will often give myself the excuse it is too expensive or there is too much traffic, but there is no excuse for pulling out my mat at home and setting up one of Maris’ videos in the living room. “Yoga Upload” with Maris Aylward, whose videos can be found here, begin and end most of my days. Yoga is my time for myself. It’s time to connect to my body and bring myself back down to earth. It’s a way to ground myself in the morning, and after getting caught up in my head and thoughts all day, it can be a nice way to settle back into my body at night.
I found this amazing resource, surprisingly, on a plane of all places. Who would have thought one of my first meditation experiences would happen on a plane? I have always been skeptical of meditation. I always feel like I can’t quite close the floodgate of my mind, and there’s nothing I hate more than staring at the inside of my eyelids while trying to feel at peace. But Headspace changed my perspective about what meditation can be and what it can do for you. Not only is co-founder Andy Puddicombe the coolest guy ever as a former Buddhist monk with a degree in Circus Arts, but he also has the most soothing, lovely voice. Seriously, once you hear Andy’s velvety voice, I guarantee you’re going to be hooked.
The first Headspace meditation I came across was one designed specifically for sleeping while sitting in a plane. As I had exhausted all the good movie choices on the flight back from Greece and knew I would be miserable if I did not get some rest before we landed, I tapped its icon on the screen, put my headphones in, and began my first ever meditation. The meditation was only 10 minutes long. I used it twice before we landed and was sound asleep before it ended each time! I was shocked. I never, and I mean never, sleep on planes y’all. Headspace is magical.
I’ve even started testing out using it as my shavasana (cool down) at the end of my yoga practice. In combination with the yoga, my body and mind get some peace and quiet along with some exercise.
4. Working out
It’s hard. It sucks. I never really want to do it, but it pulls my focus to survival mode, and I can’t think about anything except trying not to die. It’s great for getting away from my other thoughts. It’s great when I feel anxious, and it’s great when I’m not. It clears my head and changes my perspective sometimes. Things look a lot different after a run. I always feel better, stronger and ready after a small daily workout of squats or crunches. I think the mistake a lot of us make is that we promise we’ll do it tomorrow, or we feel like it needs to be planned out. Get up, right now, and walk for 15 minutes, or do 100 crunches throughout the day today. Something is better than nothing. Just do something. And who knows, you might be able to push yourself! I never thought I would be into fitness or running at all, but when I take care of my body, my mind falls in line too.
5. Evening walk
Every evening before dinner, I take a walk with my boyfriend. No technology. Just us. We catch up about our day, our plans, our dreams, our future. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day. I love hearing about what his day was like, what he thinks, his stories. I’ve always had a hard time communicating in relationships, and these walks definitely force both of us to be open with each other. With this practice, I can more accurately voice when I’m feeling stressed, and we are able talk through anything. He’s a wonderful source of advice and a wonderful listener. I never thought I’d find that, so for the longest time I just didn’t say anything to anyone. You never know what people have to offer until you open up to them — especially if they love you and you love them.
Communicating what you are experiencing is key. I know it’s hard, near impossible sometimes. I’ve been there. I am there. But no one knows what you are going through except you. The more we can share our experience with others, even though it’s scary and sometimes others may disagree or argue, the more we understand one another. This can help both ourselves and others who might also be struggling. Search for someone you can have these conversations with. Have a friend in mind, but don’t know where to start? Start with that. People can be way more understanding and ready to help than we give them credit for. Most of the time, we have already made up what we think someone will think or say without giving them the opportunity to actually react. We have to give people the benefit of the doubt they will be able to support us until they prove otherwise. Put more trust in those you surround yourself with.
Breathe in. Breathe out. You are loved. <3
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Thinkstock photo via PointImages