In honor of Mental Health Awareness month, I'd like to share some practices and principles to help with anxiety. In general or situational ways, it is plaguing people in our society at an all-time high. The good news is that even though we can’t change our circumstances, we can change ourselves. AND anxiety can be highly treatable and manageable. We can do this once we understand how we are wired, what our triggers are, and the tools in our tool chest that work specifically for us.
Write first thing in the morning. Julia Cameron calls this practice Morning Pages and she suggests writing 3 pages, in a stream-of-conscious manner. Just write, without editing or thinking too much about what you’re putting on the paper. Let the cobwebs clear, especially if there are worries you want to start to detach from. Clearing your mind will help you orient your day to the fresh slate ahead.
Consider diet in treating anxiety and mental health in general. Take lavender oil in a roller with you throughout the day. Add turmeric to your dishes. Add fresh lemon balm to your teas. Add adaptogens like powdered reishi or ashwagandha to your tonics or hot cocoa. Adaptogens are a group of intelligent herbs that give our body more of what it needs; relaxation, healing, and energy.
Check to be sure you’re breathing from your belly. Imagine your abdomen and lungs moving out together as you inhale, and slowly falling together as your exhale. Breathing from our belly signifies to our body that we are safe. Breathing from our chest (which we do under stress) reinforces to our body that it can’t relax. Breath work can be a regulating force for the central nervous system, bringing calmness in just a few moments.
Memorize a couple of relaxation techniques to use any time.
Move. Get your endorphins going. Exercise can work just as effectively as antidepressants as they both alter brain chemicals. Stress and anxiety become negative energy our body carries if we don’t release it.
Perspective. Pay attention to how you are seeing the story or what your narrative has become about a situation. We don’t see life as it is, we see it as we are. Step up (bird’s eye view) and step back to help gain perceive.
Reduce unnecessary stressful input. When we are already feeling high anxiety or stress, the last thing we need is more of the world’s stress piled on. Put boundaries around what you are allowing yourself to see, hear, and internalize.
Challenge yourself to see how often you can push the “easy button” in your day. How and where can you simplify? Choose a dinner with just a few ingredients, say no to something, have your groceries delivered by a delivery service, and delegate tasks. Sometimes our choices to take on too much and to ask too much of ourselves are at the root of our anxiety.