top tips for reducing anxiety

Let’s be honest, everyone feels anxious sometimes, and for many, it’s not something that just comes and goes. You might be feeling great, confident, happy… and then it hits you. It can be hard to pinpoint why, but for me, it’s usually possible to know what caused it. Although it’s something I have to constantly work on, here are some things that have helped.

Make peace with the fact that you have anxiety

Acknowledge it, befriend it, and nurture it. One of the biggest ways to fuel anxiety is to have anxiety about having anxiety. It sounds funny, but we all do it. We worry about how long it will last, if we’ll forever be haunted by it. But even if this isn’t going to be the only time we suffer, it won’t be constant. Everyone has their highs and lows, and maybe right now you’re in the peak of it. But as they say, this too shall pass. And most importantly: You’re not alone. Seriously.

Get to the root of it

There’s usually something that causes your initial panic, and then it spirals into a web of worries. But if you take a minute and really think about what started it, you might just surprise yourself with the clarity and calm that follows.

Try Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

I have this weird time of year where my anxiety comes out to play – and man, does it throw some serious punches. When I was in the heat of it, I spoke to my doctor about what I could do to break this pattern and he referred me to a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist. Unfortunately, it took months to actually see the doctor and I was doing much better by then. But I still went and it was really helpful. She asked me if I knew what caused the panic attacks and I told her, and how it seemed to spiral into even more worries, and how random and illogical the triggers were. I know that it can feel really vulnerable being that honest with someone, but she didn’t laugh, she didn’t make a comment about it being unusual. She just threw a ton of questions at me, slowly changing my thinking pattern. She gave me a bunch of exercises and a packet of ways to conquer my fears and manage my attacks. How to shift my reactions. I became more aware of the triggers and was able to open a dialogue within myself. It was really refreshing. I’ve since used some of her suggestions and I’ve noticed a big difference in my thinking patterns. If you live in the UK, you may have to wait, but it was free and the wait was worth it. There’s nothing wrong with speaking to someone – sometimes it could be the thing that leads to a breakthrough.

Be active

There’s nothing in this world that helps me as much as exercise. I grew up watching my mother work out – in fact, she went into labour with me while doing leg lifts – so it’s in my blood. You don’t have to leave your house, just do it right in your living room. It’s a perfect way to do something 100% for yourself, without interruption or justification. It’s healthy, it feels great, releases tension and the endorphins are lovely. Do some research. Look around at different workout programmes. Find one that speaks to you and do it. Not only will you be helping your mood and mind, you’ll be creating a healthier, stronger body and that’s always a good thing.

Learn breathing techniques

This is particularly good if you’re about to have a panic attack. I often find it helps to lay down, or go somewhere quiet, and breathe in through your nose for five counts, filling your belly with air, then exhaling through your mouth for five counts. By breathing air into your belly, you’re massaging your “fight or flight” nerve. Be sure to focus on your breath. You can even put a hand on your stomach to feel it rise as you inhale and drop as you exhale. After a few rounds you will suddenly feel calm and light. It works so well.

Create a comfort ritual

Feeling anxious? Keep those feelings at bay by finding small ways to create a comfortable environment.

  • Aromatherapy. I love to use my oil diffuser with lavender or rosemary essential oils, or even Women’s Balance by Neal’s Yard. If you don’t have a diffuser, get a candle with a scent that immediately comforts you. It might be one from your childhood or a classic calming scent like lavender. One of my favourites is This Works’ Deep Sleep Heavenly Candle. I also use their Deep Sleep Pillow Spray by spraying it into a paper towel or cloth and inhaling it, then spraying it on my sheets. It instantly calms me and really does help me sleep if I use it at night.
  • Watch a show that inspires you or makes you laugh.
  • Read a book, either a fiction novel you can get lost in or maybe a self-help book. I personally love Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed. It’s a collection of all her best quotes, and you’ll be amazed how there’s a perfect quote for every situation. It’s my bible. I strongly suggest you pick up a copy.
  • Do something pampering. Take a bath, use a face mask, paint your nails, etc.
  • Listen to calming, soulful music that won’t cause angst or sadness, but will make you feel relaxed. Check out my zen playlist here.
  • Journal: Focus on the things you’re grateful for, the highlights of your day, week, month or year. Shift your thoughts to the positives.
  • And like I said before: Exercise! Do some yoga, pilates or maybe even a hard core workout that gets anger, tension and stress out. It’s amazing was some movement can do.

Try some CBD

I’ll start by saying I’m not a doctor and I suggest speaking to yours before taking anything. But my brother got me onto CBD oil, which is cannabis oil – it doesn’t have THC so no, it won’t get you high. It’s completely legal and natural and has amazing benefits. One of them being: it calms anxiety. There are so many brands you can choose from that are really affordable, but the first time I tried it, my brother shared the CBDistillery CBD oil (500mg, 30mL) and it was liquid magic. It doesn’t make you feel heavy and foggy like some medication might. I felt happy. And light. And clear. It was as if someone just sucked out the negative energy and I carried on with my day. Plus, when I take it at night, I sleep like a baby. You can take a regimen of this every morning or night, but I tend to take it when I need it, mainly due to the price. But it’s worth it.

Anxiety doesn’t mean you live in a deep, dark hole. Sometimes it might feel that way, but there’s a lot of ways you can control it. These are just some simple things that work for me, and maybe they’ll work for you too.

Do you have any of your own tips? Comment below!