Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hahn said that when feeling anxious we should “Smile, breathe and go slowly.” Much truth is held in these simple actions. But sometimes no matter how hard we try, controlling anxiety is easier said than done. If getting rid of anxiety appears so easy on the surface, then why is it that 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety each year?
What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is feelings of worry and stress that won’t go away. It can show up as intense nervousness and fear. Anxiety is sneaky and can manifest itself physically causing increased heartrate, sweating, muscle tension or nausea. It manipulates and lies to us. It causes self-doubt, worries, what-ifs and worse case scenarios.
If we aren’t careful anxiety can make our thoughts spin out of control. The good news is that by adding little bursts of mindfulness throughout our day we can gain the control we need to reduce feelings of anxiety and calm our worries.
How to Be Mindful When Anxious
Whether your anxiety is mild or intense, felt occasionally or felt everyday – these five proven tips can calm your anxiety in no time. The good news is that with a little practice you will have the ability to outsmart your anxiety and worries everything single time.
- Let it Go: There is so much in life that we can’t control. And these things that we can’t control have the ability to disrupt our calm and peace of mind if we let them. The only thing that we really can control is how we react to uncertainty and life’s challenges. One of life’s best lessons is letting go of the need to control the things that we have no control over.
- Breathe in and Out: Breathing, it’s the simplest thing we can do and it works almost instantly in calming our nerves and anxiety. No special skills are required. And we can do it anywhere, at any time. It really is that simple. Take a deep breath. And repeat. Again, and again and again.
- Make Friends With Your Fears: I will share a little secret with you. I gave my anxiety a name, actually I gave him his own persona. We sat together, on the couch one afternoon and I spoke directly to him. I decided I would finally stop pushing him away and accept him as a part of who I am. Giving your anxiety a name and addressing him or her personally may seem silly. But by confronting anxiety head on in a light hearted away, you can better understand and control how you respond to your worries and anxious thoughts.
- Interrupt Your Anxiety: Anxiety move out of my way. There is no place for you here. Interrupting your anxiety with an activity you enjoy is a sure way to calm your worries. Find what works for you and change it up. Reading a good book or going for a walk are excellent ways to find distraction. Connecting with a friend and sharing in positive conversation can take your mind off your troubles in no time.
- Soothe Your Soul With Sound: Take the time to make a playlist of the sounds most peaceful to you. Is it a certain song or artist? The sound of water flowing or birds chirping? Music or sound has the power to lift our moods almost immediately. Anxiety and negative emotions can be difficult to sustain when we are surrounding by the soothing sounds we love.