Living with anxiety is not easy and involves persistent fear, concern, worry, catastrophic thinking, and uncomfortable physical sensations. Fortunately, there are several methods you can adopt to cope with the overwhelm. In this article, you’ll learn several habits to reduce anxiety and help you regain peace and control in your everyday life.
15 habits to reduce anxiety
1. Practice self-love
When our anxious thoughts take the wheel, it’s easy to get lost in a cycle of self-criticism and self-hate. But learning to love yourself for who you are, despite mistakes or perceived setbacks, teaches you to value your strengths and be more accepting of your weaknesses. Accept that perfection doesn’t exist and that you’re doing the best you can – you’re human like the rest of us.
2. Meditate daily
People with anxiety often spend more time worrying about the future and replaying the past. But engaging in mindfulness or meditation keeps you grounded in the present. For example, get outside and walk with all your senses, practice mindfully eating a meal, or spend 15 minutes a day in silence. Over time, meditation will positively impact your brain by strengthening your body awareness, emotional regulation, serotonin, introspection, and problem-solving. If you’re confused about where to start, try these guided meditations.
3. Seek support
While seeing a therapist will definitely help reduce your anxiety, talking to a friend or attending a support group will also help. When you disclose how you feel, you may also learn that others are also struggling, which will reduce feelings of isolation. Remember, you never have to suffer in silence. There is always help available.
4. Prioritize sleep
Sleep is a crucial component in reducing habit, and should never be overlooked. In fact, sleep deprivation can worsen or cause an anxiety disorder. Research has found that it causes physical reactions in the brain that trigger higher levels of anxiety. So, instead of staying up to watch Netflix, prioritize a night routine to prepare your mind for rest.
5. Exercise consistently
Exercise is one of the best habits to reduce anxiety. It releases feel-good endorphins that improve your sleep and lowers your stress levels. But if you’re running low on time each day, try to get outside for a brisk walk, a quick jog, or even take an at-home yoga class on YouTube. Any time you can squeeze in a workout will give you a break from your anxious thoughts.
6. Be grateful
There’s a reason why gratitude is trending…it works! When you’re feeling anxious, consciously choosing to rehearse what you’re grateful for can shift your perspective and help keep your anxious thoughts at bay. It also activates feel-good neurotransmitters and regulates negative emotions. So, every morning, think about what you’re grateful for before jumping out of bed. Maybe it’s your health, apartment, friends, food, or anything that brings you joy.
7. Get outside
Rather than sitting at home with your anxiety, get outside each day and connect with nature. Anxiety often makes you feel like nothing will work, but a change in scenery can provide grounding and new stimuli to calm your nerves. Plus, it’s a great way to exercise while reducing cortisol – win-win.
8. Detach from your phone
Too much social media can be toxic for anyone, but it can worsen anxiety symptoms for those with an anxiety disorder. One of the main reasons is comparison. Consistently checking the highlight reel can make you feel like you’re way behind, even though you aren’t. Indeed, social media only shows snapshots of someone’s life, not the whole picture. So, even if you think scrolling is a fun distraction, choose a different habit and roll out your yoga mat, watch a comedy, or get outside instead.
9. Breathe it out
When we’re stressed or anxious, we typically take short and shallow breaths, but this creates the reversed effect – more anxiety. So, the next time you’re feeling worried, bring attention to your breath and lengthen your exhale. You can also try a few beginner exercises that are easy to practice in the morning or at night.
10. Do what you love
What makes you feel happy? We often get stuck in routines that involve work and no play. But use play as your guide and connect to your inner child. Do you love practicing handstands, spending time with friends, taking dance classes, or running with your dog at the park? Whatever feeds your soul, prioritize it. You’ll feel less stressed and anxious if you focus on your happiness and joy every day.
11. Clean your home
Ever notice your anxiety levels are higher when your home is messy? That’s because our environment contributes to our mood. Even if you don’t particularly love organizing or tidying up, reducing clutter can be soothing. It’s a habit that helps distract your thoughts while grounding you in the present moment. So, take a few minutes each day to tackle the dishes or organize your room – you’ll feel more relaxed in a clean space.
12. Keep a journal
One of the most challenging parts of coping with anxiety is that you feel like your mind never turns off. Yet providing your racing thoughts with an outlet will help you dump the stress while providing increased self-awareness. When you see everything on paper, you can connect patterns, find themes, and discover your triggers. You learn more about yourself in the process while feeling better overall.
13. Treat yourself
Society often makes us feel we need to accomplish big tasks before we can reward ourselves. But you deserve to enjoy the process and focus on the small things. For example, if you’re having a particularly difficult day, buy your favorite chocolate, take an at-home spa day, or buy that cute top. It’s a fun purchase that will brighten your mood while celebrating you.
14. Accept the anxiety
Instead of trying to avoid the anxiety, which can make things worse, try to accept what’s happening within you. For example, bring attention to your emotional state and talk yourself through it, “I’m anxious, and that’s okay. But it’s only temporary, and soon I will feel better”. Learning how to accept the chaos teaches your brain that uncertainty isn’t something to fear.
15. Chew gum
You may be thinking, why is gum on this list, right? But chewing gum can reduce your anxiety. Research shows chewing gum increases blood flow to the brain and decreases your cortisol levels. Why not give it a go? It may ground and calm you.
There you have it, 15 habits to reduce anxiety. While your priority should be to receive professional treatment for anxiety, there are things you can do that serve your overall emotional and physical wellbeing. Even when life feels overwhelming or hectic, try to carve out a little time for yourself and your mental health – you won’t regret it.