Most of us will experience feelings of anxiety at some stage, and often we move past them naturally. But what to do when anxiety has camped out, ready to stay a while? Why did it come at all?
Anxiety can arise as we pass though intense periods in our lives where the demand of that situation is so intense or prolonged that it builds up and forms a stress response in the body. It's at this point that you can feel waves of fear, dread, shortness of breath, dry mouth and that knot in the stomach, all of which communicate to your body that you aren’t completely safe right now.
The problem we face is that the lifestyles we lead have become so hectic that our nervous systems interpret many situations to be "life and death" even when we're sitting in our expensive cars running late for a meeting, have a deadline at work, are about to go on the field each week before our sports game or have to do a presentation in school or at the office. Our nervous systems are facing more pressure and have less ability to cope with the demands. So the intensity of daily events becomes magnified and our stress responses increase. Over time, this expands to the point of overwhelm, and we remain for long periods in fight or flight mode.
Anxiety is a cue that something in your life needs to change. Overcoming anxiety is possible, but there's no quick fix. What’s required is a holistic approach to wellness. So check in with your life and see where you can make some shifts to bring more calm back into your life.
Listed below are some simple (yet effective!) tips to help you to maintain a more balanced state:
1. Get to bed early.
Take time away from bright lights and mobile devices, TV, computers, etc., an hour before bed to help improve your quality of sleep.
2. Put aside time to be in nature each week.
Even in large cities its possible to find parks, riverbanks and beaches to unwind and relax. This has a very therapeutic effect on the nervous system and slows the breathing down, communicating to your body that you're safe.
3. Take warm baths with lavender oil.
If you are suffering from anxiety, give yourself a massage with organic sesame oil before your bath, which is also very pacifying for your nervous system.
4. Cut back on caffeine.
Caffeine forms an adrenaline response in the body that is similar to that made during times of anxiety. During anxious times, temporarily limit coffee, green and black tea, chocolate and other caffeinated foods or drinks, and notice if this helps you to feel calmer and less jittery. Let your body guide you.
5. Find enjoyable movement that slows the breath and restores calm.
For example, regular yoga sessions can help dissolve tension in the body, regulate the breath, and calm the mind. Slow walks and tai chi might also appeal to you.
6. Practice stillness in the mind.
Twice daily meditation is the key to living life calmly, happily and effortlessly. Slowing the breath and stilling the mind are your direct pathways to your parasympathetic nervous system and finding your inner calm.
Try to implement all of these six simple tips to alleviating the body's anxious response. Following these tips will help you live a life that is calmer, happier and certainly healthier.