We all worry from time to time. But, when you’re struggling with an anxious mind, sometimes you may feel as if you’re losing control and can’t seem to bring yourself back to calmness. Being able to calm your anxious mind is sometimes easier said than done.
Unfortunately, not all strategies work for everyone. So, at first, it’s a trial and error effort to find what works for you and your anxious mind. Here are some – hopefully helpful – actionable tips you can try the next time your anxiety creeps in, and you can’t seem to find a way to tame it.
It might seem obvious, but sometimes we’re so anxious we forget to take a moment and take a breath. Look back at the last time you felt unease, most likely. Your breath was short and shallow. The problem is that whenever that happens, we’re only sending messages to our brain to trigger a fight-or-flight response to deal with anxiety.
Instead, try these breathing exercises for meditation that can help control your anxiety levels.
2. Get Moving
Next time your anxious mind wants to take over, walk it out. When your mind is in a loop, moving around or changing tasks can change your perspective. If you can, stop whatever task you have at hand and walk around for a few minutes. Fidgeting also works for this. Keep a Rubik’s cube by your desk, a squeaky ball, or anything that can distract you from your thoughts for a second or two.
3. Label Your Thoughts
While it takes some practice and repetition to make it happen, labeling your thoughts rather than paying attention to the content can be extremely helpful. For about a week, watch your thoughts and label them as “judging,” “worrying,” and “criticizing,” for example. By doing this, you can pay more attention to the mental processes rather than the contents of your thoughts.
At the end of the week, ask yourself: Do I want to spend time judging and worrying?
4. Give the 3×3 Practice a Go
The 3-3-3 rule is a quick and easy practice to distract your mind. Whenever you feel anxious, look around, and label three things you see. Then, label three sounds. Finally, move three parts of your body. The idea behind this mental trick is to center your mind and bring it back to the present instead of the parallel universe your anxious mind usually enjoys.
5. Watch a Funny Video
The easiest way to trick your anxious mind. Puppy videos work just as fine if you ask me. Laughing is an excellent natural remedy for anxiety. One study even found that humor can help lower anxiety; they even compared its effects to those of exercise.
6. Get Some Fresh Air
It turns out the temperature in a room can increase your anxiety levels. So, yes, the thermostat in your office might have something to do with your anxious mind. Next time you feel uneasy, remove yourself from that environment, and go outside. Take a deep breath of fresh air and see how you’ll feel instantly calmer. Not to mention, the change of scenery will also disrupt your anxious episode. Remember, it’s all about tricking the mind.
7. Try Acupressure
Everyone experiences anxiety differently, but most likely, everyone feels some pressure somewhere in their bodies. Teeth clenching, shoulders and neck tension, lower backaches, the list goes on and on. Since you can’t book a massage on the spot anytime, your anxious mind decides to interrupt your day. You can try acupressure.
The idea is to place pressure with your fingers at specific points to release tension and relax your body. The easiest point to start is where the inside of your wrist forms a crease with your hand. Press this point for two minutes and see if it can help relieve tension.
8. Turn Up the Music
Not sure about you, but I have a go-to anxiety playlist. The next time you feel anxious, tune in to your favorite songs. You don’t need soothing or relaxing music to enjoy the benefits, enjoy whatever style you need to listen to, and jam away.
Keep in mind that controlling anxiety takes time, and unfortunately, there’s no quick switch; we can turn it off and make it go away. Be aware of your triggers, try some of these calming strategies, and be open with your doctor about your struggles with anxiety. And remember, practice makes perfect, so don’t stop trying to find ways that work for you.