Anxiety, a feeling of fear or doom with physical manifestations, can build up until it interferes with everyday life. Sweating and fast breathing are physical symptoms that can become obvious to anyone passing by. Associated gastro-intestinal problems can pull one out of meetings. Muscle tension can cause pain. And racing thoughts make it difficult to concentrate or focus on anything else.
Addressing the problem of anxiety before it gets to the point of damaging health or lifestyle is imperative. There are a number of ways to reduce stress and anxiety, and begin to relax. The best way to reduce anxiety is probably a combination of all the suggestions below, addressing the physical, mental, environmental and social causes of stress all at once.
1. Changing the Environment
Our immediate environment affects our mental health. Sound, smell and visual aesthetics all have an impact on our ability to cope. Making your environment as serene and pleasant as possible creates a landscape for good mental health.
- Remove the clutter
- Make your bedroom a palace and your bathroom a spa
- Include plants and flowers
- Make your office a welcoming place
2. Feeling More in Control
Anxiety often comes from a feeling of loss of control. There are many things in life we can’t control, but recognizing that you are in control of many situations can help reduce anxiety.
- Learn to say no
- Keep a journal
- Prioritize your tasks
- Delegate to others
3. Relaxing the Body
Anxiety comes from the mind, but it manifests in the body. The pain in the muscles and stomach can lead to more serious problems. Relaxing the body can help relax the mind as well.
4. Relaxing the Mind
Your mind can be your worst enemy when fighting anxiety. In fact, worrying about anxiety can cause anxiety! The idea is to reign in intrusive thoughts so your natural wisdom can shine through.
- Let go of control
- Believe in a higher power or a higher purpose
- Adopt a mantra
- Listen to music
- Sing, dance, chant or drum
5. Removing the Stressor
Removing the stressor or source or your stress can be a dramatic step, and should be undertaken only when other avenues have been exhausted. But, remember, your health is your most valuable asset and anything that compromises your physical and mental health renders you less effective and makes your life less worth living. Do what you need to do to be healthy, and then you can take care of the ones you love.
You many need to take action to eliminate stressors from your life, which may involve:
- Quitting the job with the unreasonable boss
- Leaving the abusive relationship
- Moving away from the threatening neighbors
- Stopping contact with the toxic friend
Self-care is important when trying to reduce anxiety. Anxiety can cause a pathological focus on one's problems, but seeing and supporting oneself holistically can go a long way to reducing anxiety. Ironically, the way to be more open, useful and helpful to others (your boss, your spouse or your kids) may be to carve out time to focus more on yourself.