Is Anxiety Keeping You Up At Night?
Being overly anxious is not just a mental hazard; it’s a physical one too. Try these strategies to find that elusive calm
Anxiety often happens as a result of a lack of preparation. Planning ahead for potentially stress-inducing events, lessens your chances of feeling anxious. So if you have an upcoming presentation or important meeting, preparation is key! Develop habits that increase productivity (such as laying out your outfit the night before or leaving your keys in the same place every day) – this way, you’ll be less likely to find yourself freaking out over last minute flusters, and get your Zen on before a key event.
Visualisation is also another great method to fight anxious thoughts. Take a moment to close your eyes and picture yourself handling the upcoming event with calm and clarity. Focusing on the positive feelings of sailing smoothly through to the end can help to reduce feelings of stress.
Daily setbacks, frustration and stress are a normal part of life, but don’t wait until you’re really feeling the pressure to address the cycle of anxiety because the more stressed out you are, the more vulnerable you’ll be to colds, flu, and various other illnesses.
Here’re some advice from the experts to help curb anxiety, manage stress and stay centred:
Todd Kashdan, a clinical psychologist and author of Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, advocates detachment from negative emotions by exploring them. Take a curious approach and try to analyse what the source of the anxiety might be. Why do I feel this way? Has this happened before? How did I deal with it?
By analysing the source of distress through a curious lens, you effectively detach and distract yourself from the emotion and by looking at it in a different way. Sometimes, all it takes may be a simple shift in the way you think. If you’re keen to find out more about “Unhelpful Thinking Styles”, the Australian Centre for Clinical Interventions has an informative page that may help you to identify some thinking patterns or styles that you consistently use.
POP A GUMMY AND CHEW QUICKLY
The faster you chew, the calmer you get. In Japanese trials, rapid chomping cut cortisol levels by 25.8 per cent within 20 minutes, while slow chewing resulted in a mere 14.4 per cent drop. It seems that chewing stimulates us mentally, making us better able to cope with stress. “It might also be that chewing reminds us of relaxing times such as mealtimes,” adds Professor Andrew Scholey from Melbourne’s Swinburne University.
BREATH MINDFULLY, MEDITATE AND HAVE A MANTRA
Regulated breathing is a powerful tool for preventing panic attacks, especially when practiced with meditation. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, meditation can enhance the effects of standard therapy for anxiety disorders by inducing calm and helping you to gain greater control over anxiety-producing thoughts. Scientists have also discovered that meditation actually increases the amount of grey matter in the brain and rewires the body towards less stress. The next time you feel like you’re about to explode with anxiety, slow down your breathing and inhale for a count of four, tell yourself, “I’m alright. I can handle this”, then exhale for another count of four. Repeat five to ten times to calm the nervous system, increase focus and reduce stress.