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Monday, 16 May 2016

3 Things That Help My Anxiety


I've talked about the fact I used to suffer terribly with anxiety before and have credited my healthy lifestyle change for the change in me and the fact I rarely suffer with this problem anymore but I thought today I'd share some of the techniques I've used in the past that really did help me calm down, control my breathing and relax.


Anxiety is something more and more people seem to be struggling with and it's an issue that can cause so many problems, so much upset and can really effect your life. I'd say my anxiety issues started when I was very little (I'm talking 11 years old) but they got progressively worse and at the age of 15 I had my first panic attack, it was the most terrifying feeling - I couldn't breathe, I felt so dizzy I thought I might faint, I felt like I was going to throw up, my head felt it could explode and I was shaking uncontrollably. From that day onwards I started having panic attacks frequently and eventually they became almost a daily occurrence, as you can imagine this was a huge strain on my life and stopped me from doing such simple things. This went on for a long time but thankfully they're now very much under control and I've only had perhaps 3 panic attacks in the last year. I truly believe this is down to eating healthily, getting regular exercise, daily yoga practice and learning not to overthink and being more kind to myself. I do still get bouts of bad anxiety but I've learnt to control this and I'm hoping you can too with these simple tips and tricks.

Alternate Nostril Breathing
This is breathing technique that you could be forgiven for thinking sounds a little silly, I know I did to start with, but it works so well to calm the mind. It's also known as Nadi Shodhan Pranayama and is often used in yoga practice, it helps relax you and prepares you to enter a mediative state. You can watch a guide of how to do it here which I'd highly recommend as it's fairly difficult to explain how to do it. But how does it work? Our mind has a tendency to focus on the past or the get anxious about the future which contributes to feelings of stress of anxiety, alternative nostril breathing helps bring your mind back to the present moment and releases accumulated stress in the mind & body. The exercise is very therapeutic and helps harmonise the left and right sides of the brain, aids in purifying and balancing your energy levels and can even maintain body temperature. It's also been shown to lower blood pressure...great when you're feeling anxious! I find this practice so beneficial when I'm feeling particularly anxious, stressed or overwhelmed as it helps me focus on breathing consciously and contributes to my emotional, mental and physical wellbeing.

Get Outside
Super simple, super effective...get outside! It's amazing how much getting out into a fresh, open space will clear your mind and relax your body. When I feel a little claustrophobic or like things are getting on top of me I like to go for a walk in the woods or across the fields, instantly I'll feel more at peace and happier. Spending time outside has been shown to reduce rumination the brain, which is the negative thought process, therefore you feel calmer, more positive and happier. I also think physiologically just being in an open space helps when you feel overwhelmed as it decreases that sense of being trapped. I've spoken about the link between nature and happiness here if you want to find out a little more. Step outside, take some deep cleansing breaths....it'll work miracles for feelings of anxiety.

Make Positive Affirmations
Now, this may be difficult the first time you do it and you could well feel a little silly or awkward but it's so important to try and make positive affirmations when you're in a negative head-space. Think of some positive affirmations and actually say them out loud, the goal is to be saying and hearing positive things that distracts your mind from the anxious feelings and provides you with something happy to focus on. Examples include - 'I believe in myself', 'I am calm and happy', 'Today is going to be a good day', 'I am an amazing person', 'I am loved'. Try to do this as long as possible and truly believe what you are saying or at least attempt to, as silly as it may seem. Before you know it the stress will be disappearing, your breathing will relax and your mind will be happier. If you can't bring yourself to say such positive affirmations like the examples above try to just tell yourself you can and will get through this, that the anxiety will pass and you WILL feel better.

If you suffer with anxiety, stress and/or depression these 3 things should help you a lot, and the more you practice these tips the more effective they should become. Remember too that the food you put into your body does impact your mental health more than you realise, I've written a blog post about that here. Any mental health issue is challenging but don't let it consume you and control your life. You're strong, powerful, amazing and you have the ability to change your negative emotions into positive ones just by taking the smallest steps.


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