Today's post is written by guest contributor, Roxie McLachlan, a doctorate of psychology student at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA. Roxie is passionate about mental health and working with the older adult population. Upon completion of her school program, she plans to work as a psychologist in private practice. Read on for Roxie's best tips for beating anxiety...
With the vast amount of stressors and worries we encounter throughout the day, it is no surprise that we can often find ourselves feeling anxious. Young adults especially can feel immense pressure to perform in multiple arenas in life, but don’t necessarily know how to balance that with proper self-care. Featured below is a round-up of my personal favorite tips for reducing anxiety naturally:
1 | Keep a journal
When we have so many thoughts flying through our minds, it is hard to feel calm. Creating a journal will help you take the anxious thoughts out of your mind and put them on paper instead.
2 | Make a schedule and a to-do list
There are often so many things to do in so little time. Planning when you will do each activity will help you to feel prepared to conquer the situation. When you have completed each task, check it off the to-do list. As you continue to check off more items, you will feel more fulfilled. You will be surprised at how exciting it feels when you get closer to the bottom of the list!
3 | Get some sleep
It sounds like common sense, right? Not necessarily. We often fail to realize how little sleep we are actually getting. With so much stimulation available to us through our smartphones, computers, and TVs, we often find ourselves staying up later than we intend to. For many of us, 6 hours of sleep is acceptable. According to this help guide, 6 hours of sleep is not nearly sufficient. Instead, it is recommended that young adults get 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep. Even one hour less creates a notable difference in our functioning throughout the day.
4 | Spend time in nature
Nature has an extraordinary way to make us feel more positive. A walk to the park, especially when the sun is shining, can help uplift your anxieties. If you live near a hiking trail, going on a hike would be a great opportunity to reduce your anxiety. Not only are you spending time in nature, but by doing physical activity, you can also relieve additional stress and boost your mood.
5 | Practice mindfulness
Mindfulness has become popular in the past 25-30 years as a practice used by psychotherapists and other mental health professionals to reduce anxiety and depression. However, the practice itself actually emerged from Buddhist traditions thousands of years ago. By focusing on consciousness, mindfulness helps bring awareness and acceptance of your present experience. These techniques allow someone to become relaxed by lowering their heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension (all in which increase with anxiety). If interested in learning more, I would recommend reading this book by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the man credited for bringing mindfulness into the mainstream.
6 | Take a bath with Epsom salts
Pick up some Epsom salt at your local Walgreens or CVS and take a bath. It sounds simplistic, but it really does work! Epsom salts often come in different scents and sometimes have added minerals to benefit your skin. When added to a bath, they create a calming and relaxing soak. If you are experiencing physical stiffness, Epsom salts also offer a soothing relief.
7 | Use an app
Just like the saying says, “there is an app for that!” Two anxiety apps that I have personally found helpful are Pacifica and Calm. Pacifica works by tracking your mood and thoughts to help you identify the triggers of your anxiety. It also provides deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises. It is a great way not only to relieve anxiety, but also to observe what is causing your anxiety so you can work to better reduce it in the future. Furthermore, Calm is extremely effective reducing stress. The app has several programs and guides for different types of anxiety.
8 | Do simple yoga poses
You don’t need to be a pro to benefit from yoga! Two simple poses you can do to release your anxiety are: savasana and viparita karani (I promise they’re not as confusing as they sound!) Savasana is also called the “corpse pose.” To do this pose, you must lay on the floor (I find hard surfaces are the best) and roll up a blanket or towel and place it under your knees. You may also place a pillow under your head or cover yourself with a blanket – whatever is the most comfortable for you. It is recommended to lay in this position for 5-10 minutes, focusing on your breathing. The second pose, viparita karani, is also fairly simple. Lay on the floor with your legs up the wall and place a blanket under your hips, like this. Lay in this position for 5-10 minutes as well. Doing these yoga poses can help you to relax and allow your worries to drift away. If you are interested in additional simple yoga to do at home, check out this slideshow on Yoga Journal.
If you ever find yourself dealing with anxiety or stress, I hope you’re able to remember some of these helpful tips to bring you more peace of mind. Of course there are countless ways to reduce one’s anxiety and stress and this is far from an exhaustive list. I’d love to hear from you! What are your favorite ways to keep anxiety at bay? Share your best tips in the comments below.