Do you ever stress about how to overcome anxiety?
Stress happens to everyone. And things sure can get overwhelming when you start delving into the root causes of anxiety. But talking about it with someone, building healthy relationships, and learning to recognize your own internal voice are all valuable actions that can help develop a strong self-awareness.
However, these changes in habit require a significant investment of reflection, energy, and perseverance over time. But if you start right now, you can develop healthier habits that contribute to relieving stress naturally. This, in turn, helps you to release anxiety throughout the day . . . so it doesn’t snowball into a more serious problem.
These 8 simple stress reducing techniques and healthy habits are invaluable tools you can use as you progress toward a restored Sense of Self.
Take a look at the list below and consider which self-management practices you can incorporate into your life.
1. Practice diaphragmatic breathing.
Deep breathing techniques stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, and helps restore calm.
Take a deep breath in through your nose . . . and visualize the air filling your throat, lungs, chest, and belly. Hold it gently for a few seconds, and slowly release the air back through your nose. Make each full breath last about 10-12 seconds. Feel better?
2. Reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake.
There’s nothing wrong with starting the day off with a cup of coffee or wrapping it up with a glass of wine. But excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol tends to worsen symptoms of anxiety, whether that comes in the form of poor focus at work or trouble sleeping through the night.
Try to cut back little by little, and occasionally, if you can bear it . . . take your glass of wine before 6 p.m. and swap out your morning coffee and/or nightcap for a nice cup of herbal tea.
3. Keep a journal.
Journal writing does not have to be a systematic log of the day’s events. It can take many forms: recording your dreams, fleshing out your goals, jotting down conversations, real or imagined, or making a list of your fears.
Even if you can only set aside a few minutes a day, journal writing can help alleviate the vicious circle of playing out worst-case scenarios over and over in your head. Try journalling before going to bed . . . and notice how much better you sleep.
4. Try to exercise every day.
Like many of us, you may not have the time or desire to make it to the gym every day. But if you’re looking for the big secret to how to reduce stress naturally . . . it’s exercise. As an added bonus, sticking with daily exercise is a great way to boost your self-esteem.
Moderate aerobic exercise like brisk walking or jogging will burn off excess energy and help release anxiety. Consider investing in a set of resistance bands or small dumbbells.
Anaerobic exercise, such as lifting weights and resistance training, releases endorphins and tones your muscles, so you feel good in the short-term and enjoy improved self-image in the long-term.
5. Recognize your ego-references.
If you experienced enmeshment as a child, you learned to derive an identity from meeting subconscious behavioral requirements that earned your caretaker’s approval. Take a moment to reflect on a situation where you felt under pressure to perform in a certain way.
Perhaps you felt the need to assume responsibility for a misunderstanding. Or maybe you put pressure on yourself to always be a great host or hostess, or never admit to feelings of sadness or confusion.
You will not be able to resist the pull of your ego-references right away, but recognizing them when they present themselves is itself a huge step toward self-management.
6. Cultivate your present moment awareness.
When you start to fixate on the future, anxiety takes hold. Human behavior predisposes us to focus on future possibilities and outcomes. Practicing mindfulness helps you focus your energies on the present, where you can effect the most change.
Try a simple five-minute meditation: close your eyes and instead of indulging inner chatter, focus on sounds, physical sensations, and the movement of your breath.
7. Practice positive reframing.
Could your anxiety be trying to tell you something? Instead of resenting your anxiety, take the opportunity to study it. When you experience a Lack of Sense of Self (LOSS), you’re feeling a void that prevents you from reaching a state of balance and autonomy.
Instead of filling this void with approval from others, what changes can you make, personally or professionally, to fill it with self-love?
8. Have self-compassion.
Accept that self-awareness takes time. You may not be able to overcome your anxiety in a matter of days or weeks, so be kind to yourself during the process.
And when you find it difficult to follow through on your chosen self-management techniques—or when you still feel frustrated after taking a walk or trying to meditate—recognize that you are doing your best, and be proud of the steps you’re taking to restore your Sense of Self.
Curious to learn more about your personal Sense of Self?
Author: Lindsay Dick