CALM YOUR WORRIES

Everyone worries. But too much worrying creates anxiety, which can make you unable to cope; and long-term, it raises your risk of health problems. Forty-two million people in the US and Canada have anxiety disorders ranging from intense worry to debilitating heart palpitations. But this doesn’t mean you have to live with it.

When you feel a negative emotion such as anxiety often, it is trying to tell you something. Before covering it with medication, escaping from it with food or TV, or even tackling it with a short-term fix like yoga or aromatherapy, pay attention to it.This type of attention or “listening” requires focusing inward. It might seem difficult because your habit has probably been to push it away without acknowledging and questioning it. Yet, if you continue to run from the feeling, it will follow you around like a shadow wherever you go, and make its presence known whenever you are unconscious: i.e. when drinking alcohol, when listening to a sad song or watching a violent movie, or when “inner chatter” thoughts have overtaken your mind.
 
Your anxiety is as important as other signals of pain that your body gives you to tell you to take action to correct something. Even if you have no idea what this message is trying to tell you, take that all-important first step: stop, be quiet, and listen.
 
Here are 5 Ways to Help Calm Your Anxiety:
 
1. Feel the fear. If you focus on your anxiety, you will recognize it is caused by fear. Tug at that fear a little. See where the feeling leads. Begin this journey without knowing its ending. Dig deep to uncover whether today’s fears are a trigger connected to some event from your past that you may have downplayed or tried to put out of your mind. Even if you feel you’ve “dealt with it,” since these situations are lifelong lessons they may well be connected to that uncomfortable feeling now flowing through your body. Your anxiety is telling you not to neglect dealing with past events. It is also showing you that the situation at hand – the people, place or thing causing current upset – is not worrying you for the reason you had originally thought.
 
2. Remember you’re in the audience. Look objectively at the imaginary scenarios you feel are going to happen. Consider that they are like a movie being played out in front of you, but you are the watcher, not an actor within it. Consider a situation that you were anxious about in the past. Did the disastrous scenario happen? Step outside of your thoughts and see that these scenes happen in your mind, the only place where you lack all power to take action. When you project future events in your mind (that’s capable of creating horror movies) instead of staying in the present (where you may be laying in a comfortable bed with no crisis immediately challenging you), it activates your body’s fight or flight response, which was created to keep you alive. It doesn’t know the difference between reality and fantasy. Make the choice to recognize that the “worse-case scenario” is not happening now, and then to take your attention away from that thought to a better feeling “happy ending.” You can handle everything that happens in real life.
 
3. Get physical. Sit, stand or lie straight, and breathe deeply. You tend to protect your upper body (heart and lungs) by hunching over when feeling anxious or depressed. When your shoulders are back and down and your chest is forward (even when lying down), and your feet are planted firmly on the ground, it calms your body because it feels in control, not vulnerable or helpless. Put a big grin on our face and let out a laugh. Your body relaxes after laughter, which brings in oxygen and spikes your feel-good endorphin chemicals. Go for a brisk walk to clear your mind and boost creative problem-solving neurotransmitters. Get enough sleep whenever, wherever you can since insomnia is a common symptom of anxiety, but also a common factor exacerbating it. Taking care of yourself is an act of self-love that is vital to change your mindset.
 
4. Record it. Writing down a worry when it comes into your mind helps you to self-observe and become objective. This reduces the intensity of the hold it has on you. You’re actively “doing something about it” by writing, and are then better able to understand it, which helps it feel more manageable. It enables creativity to flow and may even inspire ways that you can solve the situation. After writing down what worries you, conclude with: "This is anxiety. I've had the feeling before and it can't kill me. It passes. This will also pass."
 
5. Check your eating habits. Eating too much sugar, letting your blood sugar dip due to not eating at regular intervals or eating processed, nutrient-poor foods, and dehydration from not drinking enough water all affect your anxiety level. Get enough protein (especially salmon and raw Brazil nuts, almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds that all regulate dopamine and serotonin) and complex carbs (from whole fruits and vegetables) to balance your brain.

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