Break into a sweat
Exercise: it’s an oldie but no less a goodie for that. Sometimes, getting your heart rate up and focussing on what your body’s doing can really help you forget what’s going on in your head. Plus, the effects of those exercise-induced “feel-good” endorphins will linger on long after you’ve taken off your work-out clothes.
Of course, swimming could fit under the “break a sweat” heading. However, as well as being valuable exercise, there’s something about the peace and weightlessness experienced when immersed in a large body of water that’s great for quelling anxiety. You might choose a swimming pool but, if it’s safe and warm enough, you could also opt for the sea, a river or lake.
You don’t need to be a yogi to benefit from the mind, body and spirit-soothing powers of yoga. Even beginners stand to leave their first session feeling calmer, more at peace with the world and perhaps even walking a little taller. If you don’t fancy a class situation, YouTube is a great resource to get you started.
Drive and sing
Imagine sitting in your car, the windows closed, the music cranked and the open road in front of you. It’s the perfect space for singing along to your favorite tunes. The feel-good factor is hard to beat but, if you’re feeling particularly anxious, why not replace singing with yelling. Just make sure you keep a close eye on your steering and any traffic around you.
Practise grounding techniques
The long-established tradition of keeping a journal or diary is a grounding technique that many people find helpful when it comes to managing anxiety. For an updated spin, you could try the so-called “333 rule”. This means naming three things you can see, another three things you can hear and, finally, three things you can touch.
It’s well-established in scientific circles that pet-owners tend to have lower blood pressure. If your anxiety is spiralling, petting the soft fur of a dog or cat can be immensely soothing. As well as the physical benefits already mentioned, you’re also likely to feel calmer. If you don’t have a pet, perhaps you have a friend or neighbor who does.
Go for a walk in the woods
Actually, it doesn’t have to be the woods. Walking outside, in as natural environment as possible, is a wonderful stress-reliever. Whether it’s striding over the hills or wandering along a beach, the combination of fresh air, moderate exercise and peaceful surroundings should work wonders on calming your mind.
Although there’s no conclusive scientific proof, plenty of anecdotal evidence supports the mood-enhancing benefits of aromatherapy. Essential oils are many people’s first choice, as well as what an aromatherapy practitioner is likely to use. However, you could also choose incense or even the natural scent of something like sandalwood or lavender.
Starting therapy can feel like a massive step. You might worry about feeling vulnerable or seeming stupid. However, the right therapist can give you powerful coping strategies for understanding and dealing with your anxiety. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is effective for many people, and allows you to acquire skills you can use long after the therapy sessions have finished.
Don’t underestimate the power of family and friends. Anxiety thrives in the lonely spaces of our lives. Spending time with other people is a powerful way of fighting back against your worries. It can also make you more resilient in the face of future stresses.