It is normal for most of us to feel anxious at some times. Anxiety can actively help us focus by giving us a boost of energy. In some people, the fear, dread, and uneasiness are not temporary, often triggering anxiety disorders.
If you are one of those people that feels you want to forego meditation or don’t feel up to it every time, there are other mind-calming activities to help shift your focus. Ease your anxiety with some of the following techniques to help your coping strategy:
1. Engage in Something Complex
The brain has a default mode network (DMN) associated with self-reflection and decisions.
Know as “mind-wandering” by researchers, this activity takes up a considerable part of our daily thoughts. These thoughts become more intense when we are anxious or tired.
Meditation is one way to calm these thoughts and the second is to undertake a complex activity. Incorporate activities you enjoy or even work tasks, but make them a bit more challenging to block out your DMN.
If you like drawing, challenge yourself to complete a mindfulness coloring task or work on a sketch on a subject you find challenging. If you are going to the gym or sport, challenge the brain with more intense training, or if working on a writing or work project, set yourself a time limit.
2. Convince Yourself That Your Thoughts Are Assumptions
Anxiety is how your mind helps to keep you safe by avoiding risk and preparing you for the pain of things that may happen. However, it does not mean that what you are thinking will happen. Convince yourself that unless you have evidence of something, the worst-case scenarios your brain assumes are improbable.
3. Be There for Others
Helping others helps to shift your thoughts from yourself to them, quieting your racing mind.
You don’t have to tire yourself out, so contact someone you know needs to chat or volunteer to help someone in your community. Whatever you choose to focus your efforts on will have an energizing effect on your thoughts and wellbeing.
4. Acknowledge Your Fears By Writing them Down
Writing down your thoughts, fears, and emotions is one of the most beneficial ways to calm your mind. By writing down your worries, you can see which ones recur the most. Making your brain aware that you know which thoughts worry it the most helps to ease anxious feelings, and it helps with mild depression.
5. Have Some Fun
Sometimes as you try to work through a cycle of anxiety, your efforts can tire you out, leaving you unwilling to continue. Try and include some fun activities that will help to increase your dopamine levels. Remember, dopamine can help to re-energize your depleted energy reserves. Fun activities can consist of socializing (even though you may feel it drains you), taking up a new hobby, or doing creative activities like building legos, origami, doing puzzles, etc.
6. Do Take Exercise, Healthy Meals, and Plenty of Sleep
You may feel too exhausted to even think about exercising, but it is one of the best remedies for neutralizing your worrying thoughts. Exercise also helps you sleep better, something that most people with anxiety usually lack because they cannot wind down.
Combining exercise and healthy food (cut out excess sugars and processed foods) makes it easier to remove the unconscious thoughts that keep you awake at night. Never skip meals.
Sleep is beneficial and therapeutic, so try to sleep for longer to help restore the balance of mind and body. You will sleep better if you calm down before going to bed, so find a ritual that calms you down and avoid screen time for at least two hours before sleeping. Make sure you get at least eight hours of sleep by giving yourself a bedtime.
7. Cut Out Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can both make some people feel nervous. Caffeine sources include chocolate, coffee, and tea, so cut all these if you have noticed that their consumption makes you jittery. Alcohol disrupts the hormones and sleep cycle while also increasing blood sugar. If you suffer from anxious thoughts, cut out or limit the consumption of caffeine and alcoholic drinks.
Getting rid of the physical and mental exhaustion caused by anxiety requires hard work and commitment. If you feel that you are having trouble coping, severe anxiety is treatable, so speak to a medical professional.
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