December 26, 2016

8 mindful things you can do to combat anxiety in the New Year

Mindful Mondays Anxiety
12262016_coloring_book Sybirko /iStock.com

Need to destress in 2017? Pick up a hobby or craft like adult coloring, which can prove an effective self-soothing behavior.

Millions of Americans struggle daily with effects of anxiety that range from mild to extreme. If you have ever experienced any of these symptoms, you know that they can be absolutely debilitating. As such, it can be extremely difficult to pull yourself out from the panicky spiral that anxiety induces.

In recent years, much light has been shed on how you can control anxiety on your own through a technique called Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), ”based on the ancient practice of mindfulness, which is about waking up, being fully alive, and being present for the richness of each moment of our lives. Within this awakening, we gain access to our deepest inner resources for living, healing, and coping with stress.”

The ability to “gain access to our inner resources” allows us to be fully connected to our bodies and our emotions thereby, in control of our minds, which is the complete opposite of anxiety.

MBSR is primarily focused on using meditation and yoga to calm the mind and cultivate awareness, but there are many other things that you can do in a moment of panic or anxiety to bring yourself back to center.

Here are 8 mindful tips for combating anxiety in the New Year:

20 Breaths

When you feel an anxiety attack coming on, learn to use your breath to find a peaceful rhythm that will calm you down. Count to yourself, “IN 2-3-4, OUT 2-3-4.” Fill your lungs with air and think about inhaling the good and exhaling the bad. Repeat at least 20 times.

Drink More Water

My doctor once told me that he believed that some of the symptoms that I considered to be anxiety related, like heart palpitations and dizziness, were actually more likely to be symptoms of dehydration. Be sure to stay hydrated by drinking as much water as you can in any given day. (Many experts say to shoot for half of your body weight in ounces)

Drink Less Alcohol & Caffeine

Both alcohol and caffeine can be extremely dehydrating and drinking too much of either can cause an unsettling shakiness that can trigger a panic attack. Limit both to one cup per day or cut them out completely if your anxiety is severe.

Exercise Regularly

Exercising can have an immediate calming effect on the brain. Not only does it release endorphins, it gives you a sense of power and confidence over your body, which for many people is exactly the antidote they need.

Hold an Ice Cube in Your Clenched Fist

If you are having trouble grasping the concept of mindfulness, use this exercise to fully understand that “presencing” (being in the present moment) is what takes your attention off your anxiety about the future or the past. The shock of the cold really does refocus your thoughts and allow you to be exactly where you are. Learn other ways to calm down using water and ice here.

Color in an Adult Coloring Book (or find a craft that you enjoy)

Many people are turning to adult coloring as a self-soothing behavior. As with anything task oriented, you can simply focus on what you are doing rather than let your mind wander forward or backward. You can find these in mainstream drug stores and of course, online. If coloring isn’t your thing, try any activity that will take your full attention (ex: cooking, cleaning, jewelry making, knitting, etc…)

Listen to Happy Music

Music is such a powerful vehicle for healing. If you are musically inclined, sing or play your instrument when you feel anxiety creeping up on you. If you are not, simply create a good go-to play list. If you are not sure where to start, the Spotify app has a variety of mood-boosting playlists that you can listen to free of charge.

Tell Yourself Not to be a ‘Catastrophist’

Essentially, a catastrophist is a person who instinctively goes to worst-case scenario in many, if not all situations. You can retrain your thought process by reminding yourself NOT to be a catastrophist when you feel yourself going to that place and in most cases, there is much more going right than there is going wrong. Find your mantra, and repeat it to yourself in times of need.

Once you regain control of your anxiety in any given instance, take a moment to get in touch and figure out where it is coming from. As with anything, the closer you come to finding the root, the closer you come to being the best version of you.

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I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. I will continue to keep you posted on my health journey. Follow me for updates @christiemandia.