Once anxiety strikes it can soon start to take over your life. It can leave you feeling stuck – you may not know where it came from and why you are struggling, therefore you're more likely to feel uncertain about how you can break free and start feeling better again. Anxiety makes you feel like you're withdrawing more and more from others and from the things that you used to enjoy.
For many people, the symptoms of anxiety take hold after a period of worry and stress. Despite the fact that there may not be only one thing that you can pinpoint, all that tension builds up inside to a point where your mind goes into overdrive and into a state of constant alert.
The more you feel anxious, the more all those 'worst case scenarios' and uncertainties fill your mind, leading you to feel like you've hit rock bottom. If you find that you become anxious about the thought of being anxious, here are 5 things that you can start doing from today that will start to dilute your anxiety and teach you how to manage those anxious feelings on a day to day basis. (If your negative feelings persist and you can't seem to get a hold on them, you can also seek the help of an anxiety specialist to help you switch that anxiety off.)
How to control anxiety naturally without medication
1. Kick start your relaxation response
When you start to feel anxious, your breathing quickens as your body prepares you to take some action in response to a perceived threat. It’s like you .ecome ready to exercise when you have no intention to do so!
To kick start your natural relaxation response and start to feel calmer, you need to extend your 'out breath' so it is longer than your 'in breath'. This will quickly begin to physically calm you down. Breathe in for a count of 7, and out for a count of 11, several times a day. This pushes your breathing back down into your stomach, which is how you breathe when you do feel calm and relaxed.
2. Get out and walk
If you're exercising you would expect your breathing and heart rate to increase – you would feel hot and sweat more and may even feel shaky. In this context, those symptoms are normal and have an outlet, but when you feel anxious, you may experience the same symptoms with no place for them to 'burn off', rather they lead to worries and fears filling your every thought.
To start to give all that oxygen, adrenaline and energy an outlet, get out for at least 10-15minutes a day for a walk. As you walk, aim to notice the sights and sounds as you go to shift your focus from thoughts inside your head to things that are going on around you.
3. Cut back on caffeine
You probably already know that caffeine is a stimulant, and by having too much, you may be adding to your stress and anxiety levels, especially if you aren’t sleeping well. Everyone has a different tolerance level for caffeine, but try and monitor your intake as well as make an effort to cut back by at least a cup if you're having more than 3 cups a day.
Having lots of caffeine is like giving a kick start to all that anxiety inside and then adding all the other thoughts, dread and worries you’ve been experiencing on top of it! So start to gradually decrease your intake from today.
4. Interrupt anxiety by thinking
When you feel anxious, your emotions start to take control and every thought can start to become focussed on ‘what ifs’ which create dread and fear. The more those thoughts and anxious feelings become linked together, the more anxiety you experience and the more stuck you will feel.
Even if you manage to distract yourself for a while, you may find those anxious thoughts come flooding back at the next quiet moment. It’s like your brain tags them as important because they have so much emotion attached to them and so helpfully reminds you to deal with them.
Yet because so many of them are just imagined, there may be nothing that you can actually do to deal with them and so they keep coming back or the anxiety simply finds a new thing for you to think about and negatively focus on.
To calm all that emotion you can get the thinking, more logical part of your mind working harder. When you find yourself running those anxious thoughts, interrupt them by reciting the alphabet backward in your mind for example. This will quickly get that thinking part working, stop those anxious thoughts running on and on and start to calm down all that anxiety naturally.
5. Create some mental space
It might sound easier said than done to create a safe mental space especially if your anxiety levels are rocketing, but like many other things, relaxing is about learning how to relax and doing it consistently. Remember to go easy on yourself – sometimes you feel more anxious than other times and sometimes you can relax more easily.
Anxiety is like having a totally stressed out brain that has no more storage space, so by relaxing in the right way you can start to bring that level down. Some people find mindfulness and meditation helpful and even hypnosis.
When you are in the midst of anxiety, it can feel like a never-ending battle just to get through the day. Using these mindful tips will help you quickly start to ease the build-up of stresses and worries, and give your mind and body the break they deserve.