Fight Back Against Anxiety Before it Gets the Best of You
Practice gratitude to color your life prettier.
We all have anxiety at different points in our lives. You may feel anxious before a big test, starting a new job, moving, or purchasing a car or house. It’s understandable to feel stress on occasion, but some people deal with stress and anxiety every single day.
Anxiety is the body’s response to worry and fear, but it’s more than a temporary feeling for a many people.
Forty million people in the United States have some kind of anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. That’s 18% of the population. What’s more alarming is that 8% of kids and teens experience an anxiety disorder, according to the same study.
Why are we so anxious, and what can we do about it?
Anxiety often comes from stress. Most of us are stressed about something. The state of finances and the state of relationships, especially if they are in weak states, can raise stress levels even more. Combine money trouble and relationship trouble and tensions increase exponentially as stress levels soar.
Worry doesn’t help either.
“Worry a little bit every day and in a lifetime you will lose a couple of years. If something is wrong, fix it if you can. But train yourself not to worry. Worry never fixes anything.”– Mary Hemingway
It’s alarming that only 25% of the people who need treatment for anxiety disorders receive help, according to FindAPsychologist.
These things can help:
Some of the most successful people begin their day with gratitude. Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Gilbert, Michelle Obama, and Oprah all reportedly start their day with gratitude. Oprah starts each day with a strategic routine that includes reading five things she is grateful for.
One of my daughters is prone to anxiety. We’ve found gratitude to be a game-changer for her. Over the course of a few weeks, we watched her whole disposition change with gratitude. Before we began the exercise, she took too much for granted. She couldn’t name one thing to be thankful for. Once she changed her thinking, she changed her perspective. She names ten things she’s grateful before she gets out of bed each morning, to frame her day with positivity. She repeats the exercise at the end of each day as we tuck her into bed.
It’s a useful exercise throughout the day too. When she gets angry or frustrated, we ask her to name three things she is glad for. We see the effect of gratitude wash over her, and the tension falls away as peace comes.
Once she gets started with the things that she appreciates, it’s hard to get her to stop. The gratitude perspective has changed her life. I’m betting it will change yours too if you try it.
Move Your Body
Motion changes emotion. Go for a walk. Connect with nature. If you can’t get to the gym, go to The App Store and find exercises you can do in the comfort of your home. My favorites are 7MinuteWorkout and 19MinuteYoga. I can do them anytime throughout the day and sometimes the kids even join in. When you release endorphins your confidence and mood also increase, according to Harvard Health Publishing.
It doesn’t get much easier than guided exercise at your fingertips.
Fluff the Family Pet
It’s easy to get caught up in completing tasks and the busyness of the day, but your furry friends are proven to increase happiness and lower anxiety. Pause whatever you’re doing and take a few minutes to toss a toy for the pet. While you’re at it, run your hands through his or her fur. As you do, you release neurotransmitters and lower your level of stress.
Therapists suggest journaling to record thoughts and feelings. I’ve tried journaling many times and not had much success. I declare myself a journaling failure. Even as a failure, I enjoy writing my thoughts and feelings. I don’t use paper, but I do have an electronic version handy on my computer.
Visionaries like Thomas Edison, Leonardo DaVinci, and Charles Darwin are all reported to have journaled. If you keep a journal, you’re in good company with others who do the same thing.
Slow your breathing and slow your thoughts to calm your anxiety. It’s super easy to take five deep breaths and let the stress fall off a little more with each exhale. Find a guided meditation, if that’s more your style.
Color. Many kids like to color. We don’t outgrow the benefits of coloring as adults. One study says coloring reduces stress and improves your mood. I like to lay on the floor and color with the kids, I confess, I keep an adult coloring book and a box of crayons in my desk. Coloring relaxes me. Try it, and it might work for you too.
If your anxiety is severe, please seek appropriate help. In everyday situations, a little less worry, and a lot more gratitude will get your day started more successfully.