3 Tips to Reduce Anxiety

In this podcast (episode #582) and blog, I talk about the 3 ways to manage anxiety and make it work for you rather than against you.

This is a replay of a Neurolive webinar I did on my app. For the full webinar AD-free, please see Neurocycle.app.

It is entirely normal to experience feelings of anxiety without having a “mental illness”. These kinds of emotions are part of the human experience, and can be triggered by a wide range of life events and circumstances, including: 

  1. Stressful life events, such as the loss of a loved one, a breakup, financial difficulties, or work-related stress, can lead to feelings of sadness and anxiety. These emotions are often considered normal reactions to challenging situations.
  2. Major life transitions, like starting a new job, moving to a new city, or adjusting to a significant change in circumstances, can cause temporary feelings of anxiety as individuals adapt to the new situation.
  3. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), a type of depression related to changes in seasons, typically occurring in the fall and winter. This can lead to feelings of sadness and anxiety during certain times of the year.
  4. Physical health problems, such as chronic illness or chronic pain, can lead to emotional distress, including anxiety and sadness. These emotional responses are often a natural reaction to dealing with health challenges.
  5. Environmental factors, like exposure to excessive noise, pollution, or a lack of access to natural settings, can contribute to stress, which may manifest as anxiety and sadness.
  6. Conflicts, misunderstandings, or difficulties in personal relationships can lead to emotional distress, anxiety and sadness.
  7. Personal growth and transformation. For example, individuals may feel anxious when stepping out of their comfort zone or sad when reflecting on past experiences and changes in life goals. 

It's important to recognize that experiencing occasional anxiety or sadness does not necessarily indicate a mental problem. The way we see something affects how it impacts our health, mentally and physically, so it is important that we take the time to think about how we think about feelings like anxiety or sadness. 

Labels may give us security, but we should be careful of getting too comfortable, because we may end up avoiding doing the hard work needed to get to the root of our anxiety and create sustainable, positive change in our lives. We should avoid using labels as a coping mechanism; rather, they are descriptions that can help us better understand where we are and can be used to challenge ourselves to face and overcome what we are dealing with.

Part of this process means learning how to manage our feelings of anxiety. This means reconceptualizing those anxious thoughts when they arise, rather than just accepting them as broken parts of us or as a “disease”, which can be overwhelming, hopeless and scary. Indeed, a label alone can lock us in, potentially shaping the way we see ourselves and our capacity to change and heal, and even stigmatizing our biology. Some people may view themselves as inherently lacking control and being unstable or dangerous to themselves and others, even if this is not the case.

If this is you, and you are not sure where to start, here are 3 tips to help you manage your feelings of anxiety before they manage you:

1. Reframe your anxiety:

View anxiety as a warning signal in your mind, brain and body. It is telling you that something is up, that you need to pay attention to something before it harms you. Next, start learning how to read the message behind the signal—the why. This will then help you feel more confident and empowered when it comes to dealing with anxiety.

As you go through this process, remind yourself that you are not a broken brain. It is normal to be anxious! By recognizing this, your anxiety has less power over you– the normalization of it being a part of the human experience can make you feel less “crazy”.

One way to do this is to recognize that anxiety is a natural and adaptive response. It is your body's way of alerting you to potential threats or challenges. It can motivate you to take action and prepare for difficult situations.

Another way of reframing how you view anxiety is to understand that it often arises from perceived threats, which are often not as severe as they seem. And, when you can differentiate between real dangers and exaggerated fears, you can respond more appropriately.

2. Be okay with not being okay:

Remind yourself that it is okay not to be okay. Sometimes you need to give yourself permission to “be” with your discomfort. A quote by John Green sums this up well: “I just give myself permission to suck…I find this hugely liberating.” However, this does not mean that you just have to sit there shaking with anxiety. It means that you need to remind yourself that it will pass, and that these feelings will not last forever.

Part of this may mean accepting a certain level of uncertainty in your life. Anxiety is often fueled by a desire for control and certainty. When you understand that not everything can be controlled or predicted, and that's okay, then you will better able to face the times you feel anxious and bereft. Learning to accept uncertainty can reduce anxiety's grip over your life!

3. Practice decompression activities:

Using a decompression activity in the moment to calm down your mind, brain and body can be incredibly helpful. Temporary distractions can be a good thing! They can give you the space you need to let your emotions settle, which is especially necessary when you feel overwhelmed with fear and anxiety.

It takes about 60-90 seconds for intense emotions to die down, so a distraction (like going for a run, doing yoga or reading a good novel) when you are feeling very anxious can be a good thing. Some things I recommend are:

  1. Spending time with family members or close friends. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while and catch up. Send someone a text. Physical touch is also so powerful: go hug or kiss your partner, cuddle your pet, sit by your family member and so on. Put your full focus and attention towards the person/pet you love, and allow yourself to stop thinking about your troubles for a little bit.
  2. Go offline and disconnect from technology. Staring at a screen can create so much stress if you are not in the right state of mind.
  3. Plan to take a day off. Plan a whole day of things you love to do. The planning will help you focus on other things and destress, and when you actually take the day off, you will get even more mental rest!
  4. Get a massage. This will help release tension in your muscles or different parts of your body, and it will get your mind, brain and body into a relaxed state. You could even ask a friend, partner or family member to give you a quick shoulder or foot rub!
  5. Run a bath, sit in a jacuzzi or get in a sauna if you have access to one! The heat will help relax your body and your muscles.
  6. Sit in nature! Drive or walk to your local park, and take a coloring book, a novel, or just listen to music or a podcast and soak up the nature around you.

But be careful! Distractions can become an issue when you find yourself turning to them a lot and using them to suppress what you feel and avoid dealing with the issue at hand. So, take a good look at the diversions in your life and ask yourself, “How am I using these distractions? Am I trying to avoid an issue? How can I better use distractions in my life?” Commit to dealing with the issue once you are in a better mental space!

For more on managing anxiety, listen to my podcast (episode #582). If you enjoy listening to my podcast, please consider leaving a 5-star review and subscribing. And keep sharing episodes with friends and family and on social media. (Don’t forget to tag me so I can see your posts!).      

This podcast is sponsored by:

Kion Aminos. If you have been listening to my podcast for a while now, you know that your mental health and your physical health are intertwined. Both are heavily influenced not only by what you put in your body, but by what your body is missing, or deficient in, as well. This is one of the reasons I stress getting enough protein. In order for our cells to be able to communicate with each other, you need to consume adequate protein. And the reason you need protein is for the essential amino acids it contains. Your body breaks down protein into its individual essential amino acid components, which then circulate through your blood and are used by your body for everything from building muscle to forming your neurotransmitters and hormones. You must get your daily intake of protein from whole food protein sources like eggs, but most people don't know you can also get what your body needs most from protein, essential amino acids, directly as a supplement. This is why I take Kion Aminos daily. It contains all 9 essential amino acids, already broken down from protein, and ready to be absorbed and used by your body, making it 2X to 8X more effective than protein! I also love that the Kion formula is completely transparent, and backed by over 20 years of research! Try Kion aminos risk-free today with their 60-day, money-back guarantee at getkion.com/drleaf.

Podcast Highlights

1:06 Anxiety is part of being human

5:11 Why it is important that we reframe the way we see anxiety

7:12 We need to be careful of labels

9:20, 15:21 Helpful tips to manage anxiety

This podcast and blog are for educational purposes only and are not intended as medical advice. We always encourage each person to make the decision that seems best for their situation with the guidance of a medical professional.


Comments 0

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published