You may not realize how much stress has been taking a toll on you until you take steps to reduce your anxiety. Then, suddenly, your mind quiets down, your decisions become easier, and your nails grow long enough for you to see the whites (I say this from experience). Long-term anxiety reduction requires long-term solutions, like therapy and lifestyle changes. But if you're just looking to ease your mind in the short-term, a few simple hacks can help you calm down and clear your head.
Anxiety often comes from feeling powerless, Amanda Young, FeelTank expert and founder of Urban Goddess, tells Bustle. "When you don’t feel in touch with your personal power, you begin to believe the world around you and your circumstances have power over you, and you can easily become anxious and fearful," she says. "One thing I have noticed working with so many women over the years and also observed within myself is that anxiety is often what we experience when we are not comfortable with our own anger and assertiveness and have let go of our power."
If your mind feels like it's spinning out of control with anxiety, here are some simple ways experts say you can take your power back.
1Own Your Assertiveness
When your anxiety stems from feelings of powerlessness, the way to feel less anxious is to get in touch with that part of yourself that won't take BS from anyone. "Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself what you might be angry at, where you have given your power away, or where you might be resisting owning your assertiveness," says Young.
"Breathe it deep into your belly and then begin to move that energy through your body," she says. "Stand up and stomp your feet. Put on some fiery music and dance your anger, or dance your assertiveness. Use sharp gestures, let out a roar if you need to. Imagine yourself like a mighty lion or lioness claiming her territory and her place as Queen of the Jungle. Get energy moving particularly in the legs and in the pelvis. If you really let yourself go fully in this practice, you will feel the anxiety has melted away."
2Get Your Feelings Out On Paper
Emotions become less scary once we understand them. So, get curious about your anxiety. What does it feel like? Where does it come from? Are certain habits or people contributing to it? When have you felt it in the past? Christina Weber, FeelTank Relationship Expert and Founder of Underground Unattached, tells Bustle she recommends writing all this down. In addition to helping you let out your emotions, this will give you information that'll help you deal with them in the future.
3Do A "Count Down"
If your anxiety surrounds an upcoming event or decision, one way to get past it is to give yourself a time limit. Weber uses the "count down method": She'll count "five four three two one," and then she has to just do it.
4Talk To Your Inner Child
Often, it's the inner child within you that's feeling anxious. By picturing yourself as the adult there to comfort your inner child, you may find strength within yourself that you didn't know you had. Weber likes to pretend she's taking care of her 7-year-old self when she's dealing with anxiety. In a way, that is what's happening.
5Take A Deep Breath
It seems like common sense, but when we're anxious, we often forget to breath deeply. "Just one breath will shift attention to your body to calm you," conscious living expert Laurie J. Cameron, author of TheMindful Day: Practical Ways to Find Focus, Calm, and Joy From Morning to Evening, tells Bustle. "It is known as the sacred pause, and you can focus on as many breaths as you need to get centered."
Mental health therapist Amanda Ruiz, MS, LPC tells Bustle that the following breathing technique can help reduce anxiety: "Take a slow deep breath in to the count of five, then hold it for a count of five, then slowly exhale to the count of five. Do this five times. This breathing can be combined with closing your eyes, focusing on your chest rising and falling, or picturing a place that makes you feel calm and happy."
6Ask For Help
Just knowing you have support can be a stress reliever. Talk it out with a friend, or figure out if there's anything else they could do for you. "If you’re with another person, can you access compassion for yourself and him or her by asking, 'What would be of service here?'" says Cameron.
As annoying as it is to be told to exercise, it really works. "Exercise has numerous benefits, including helping to lift your mood," says Ruiz. "Exercise serves as an excellent outlet and a great way to channel your 'nervous' energies (if you are feeling a tendency to fidget) into something productive."
"Anxiety is typically future-oriented and fear-based," says Ruiz. "Practice mindfulness techniques (such as grounding) to train your mind to focus on the here and now rather than your anxiety about the future." To ground yourself, ask yourself what's coming in from each of your five senses — “What am I seeing?”, “What am I hearing right now?”, etc. This helps you pay attention to what's around you at the moment rather than all the worries going off in your mind.
While these techniques may work in the short-term, it's also worthwhile finding longer-term strategies. Be conscious of your lifestyle, and talk to a doctor or therapist if your anxiety is interfering with your life.