Regardless of how much you meditate, exercise, go to therapy, or otherwise take preventative measures to protect your mental health, anxiety can disrupt your life at the most inopportune moments. Admittedly, there's no right time for anxiety to hit, but some interruptions are more inconvenient than others, like when you're preparing for a job interview or getting ready for a first date. In these moments, you probably experience the classic symptoms of anxiety: shortness of breath, worrisome thoughts, and an increased heart rate. You might also have trouble concentrating and feel completely devoid of motivation, making it difficult to carry out even the simplest of tasks. Next thing you know, you're considering cancelling everything on your calendar and staying home under the covers. We've all been there.
In addition to sticking to a regular treatment (whatever that means for you), it's good to have some simple tools you can access when your anxiety seems to paralyze you. Whether it's writing in a journal or taking a long walk in the park, these uncomplicated practices can help you get back to a normal level of functioning, despite the worrisome thoughts running through your head.
Here are six simple ways to motivate yourself when anxiety hits you hard.
Switch On Your Most Inspiring, Calming Playlist
Science has found that music can calm the body and soothe your mind. In one study, it was found that patients at a hospital experienced less stress before and after surgery when they listened to some tunes. Music has the power to relieve depressive symptoms, improve mood, and reduce overall anxiety. So if you're stuck in a mental rut, turn on your favorite playlist and get lost in your headphones. This will also give you the chance to pause for a second, letting all the stressful factors in your life fade away temporarily. To make it even more effective, choose a few calming songs you might listen to right before you fall asleep.
Offer Yourself Some Affirmations
It may sound painfully hokey at first, but don't underestimate the power of verbally inspiring yourself. Sometimes, when you're feeling down and out, you can't expect other people to pick you up — you've got to do it for yourself with some positive self-talk, a positivity technique known to be a useful anxiety coping strategy that boots out negative thought patterns and improves your self-esteem.
Choose a few phrases that comfort you when you hear them, like, "You are safe exactly where you are" or, "You can do this, no matter what anyone else says." Don't concern yourself with how cheesy they sound out-loud. What matters most is that they ease your mind and make you feel slightly more driven than you were five seconds ago. Go somewhere quiet and repeat these phrases to yourself, or you can even look at yourself in the mirror as you utter them.
Complete A Series Of Small, Easy Tasks
Anxiety tricks you into thinking you have way too much on your plate and that you won't be able to get it all done before your natural life comes to an end. Now's the time to prove your anxiety wrong. Write down a few things that need to be crossed off your to-do list, but only select the simplest of duties that don't require any human interaction, such as doing a load of laundry or ordering your friend's birthday gift online.
Once you complete these menial tasks and physically cross them off your list, you'll feel an instant boost of gratification and probably experience a decrease in stress levels. You might even become more confident in your ability to get the other more-challenging stuff done.
Turn Off All Your Electronics For A Few Minutes & Get Outside
The British Psychological Society conducted research that showed you can immediately reduce stress by switching off your phone. Apparently, the thing that makes us most anxious is how much we check our social media accounts. The constant worry about what other people are doing takes a toll on you, so when you're swimming in a pool of anxiety, you shouldn't be obsessing over what your friends did last weekend. Besides, that notification bell that constantly rings on your phone could be increasing the levels of the stress hormone in your body called cortisol.
Take a moment to yourself, and walk away from your phone and laptop. Go for a walk outside and soak up the sunshine. Grab a coffee with a co-worker. Do something that will take you out of the virtual world for a little while.
Write Out What You'd Like To Accomplish
In your head, you might already know what you need to get done, but jotting it all down on a piece of paper could help you sort through everything in a healthy, organized way. Journaling is an extremely effective anxiety-reducing practice, and you can use the technique to sift through your emotions as well as manage your productivity. Write out all the tasks you would like to get done today, then write a separate list of what you need to get done by the end of the week. Be as detailed as you want, because the more you get out of your brain, the better.
In 2011, the University of Chicago found that the students who wrote about their worries saw an improvement in their test scores. It turns out regular journaling can improve your performance at school or work. You don't have to do it any specific way for it to be effective; just get your pen to some paper, and scribble your way to motivation.
Get In Touch With An Encouraging Friend
Being alone isn't always the best idea when your anxiety takes over. Consider reaching out to a trustworthy friend who doesn't judge you or patronize you when you speak frankly about the stress you're carrying. Having a listening ear by your side can significantly diminish the anxious chatter running through your head. Your friend will make you laugh, remind you how magnificent you are, and give you the encouragement you need to make it through the rest of the day. The emotional support could even help to minimize the physical side effects of anxiety, such as shortness of breath and shaky hands. When you part ways with your friend, you'll almost certainly feel refreshed.
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