Anxiety is a natural part of being human.
We will always experience a degree of it, especially in the face of uncertainty and something daunting. That’s fine.
We can see anxiety as an indication of what’s worth doing in many cases.
But sometimes, we can experience too much of it unnecessarily. I have struggled with it for most of my life, often to unbearable degrees.
Unnecessary anxiety is a result of two things:
- Ruminative thinking.
- Imbalanced health.
Here are 20 tiny ways to significantly reduce anxiety:
1. Quit caffeine
The correlation is documented, and the effect after the withdrawal stage is significant.
Caffeine fills your body with the stress hormone cortisol.
Cutting caffeine alone could reduce your anxiety by over 80%.
2. Meditate daily for at least 15 minutes
The more we can tolerate uncertainty and be ok with whatever thoughts arise, the calmer we become.
Meditation trains the brain for precisely this.
3. Take more risks and practice more
Anxiety will always be there to some degree, but the more you practice something that previously scared you, the less fear you will feel.
A lot of anxiety occurs simply because we’re inexperienced.
4. Practice trauma-release exercises
A lot of tension can be trapped in the body over years of breath-holding and tightness.
These exercises, which you can learn online, release pressure physically, bringing down anxiety instantly.
5. Quit smoking
Smoking does not relax you.
It stimulates your senses because you’re filling your lungs with poison, putting you in fight or flight mode.
It also fills your body with toxins that contribute to anxiety.
6. Shake your body out
Shaking out the arms and legs or jumping up and down while humming will release tension.
7. Practice deep belly-breathing
A ton of tension is stored around the belly.
When we breathe into the diaphragm, we stimulate the vagus nerve and release tension, which directly diminishes anxiety.
8. Stop identifying as an ‘anxious’ person.
Many people emphasize their issues by putting unnecessary attention on something that is — for the most part — a psychological condition.
Less attention and more action = less anxiety.
9. Quit alcohol
This drink may feel like it eases anxiety in the short term, but in the long run, as it’s a depressant, it directly contributes to more of it.
10. Lift heavy weights
The cognitive benefits of weight-lifting are documented and immediately felt.
Your body and mind will strengthen, especially when you do this three times a week.
Throw on some wild music and dance like a maniac for a few minutes. Let loose.
Be like a chimp on crack and shake your hips.
You can do this before an anxiety-provoking event.
You can use a masseuse, or you can do it yourself.
Use a hard massage ball and rub your neck and back against a wall.
Or use your hands on your shoulders, arms, and legs, for example. Massage is a known relaxant.
13. Avoid adult films
Modern adult films are one of the most pernicious stimulants on the planet.
It also destroys your dopamine receptors, which contributes directly to a low mood and anxiety when you’re not watching it.
The act of stretching will release pressure from your muscles and joints.
Anxiety is directly associated with the stiffness associated with a sedentary lifestyle.
Stretch out the tension.
15. Eat less high-glycemic foods
High-carb and sugary foods that spike blood sugar lead to crashes.
Crashes create a low mood which directly contributes to an anxious feeling.
16. Walk in nature
Get outdoors daily, and get your face in the sun.
Doing this, especially within an hour of waking, aligns your body with the natural rhythm of the rising sun.
Depressed people are out of sync with nature and the outdoors.
17. Talk to a friend
Social activity with a friend or other people gets you out of your head and worries and is known to lift your mood.
Depression has been tied to a lack of connectedness with people.
18. Do something generous
Send someone a thank you. Take the lead in some way that lifts another’s spirit.
This act is the opposite of taking things personally and feeling sorry for yourself, which is an anxiety driver.
19. Try laughter yoga
Put on some comedy and have a good old laugh.
Or you can use laughter as a form of pressure-release exercise.
Even forcing silly laughter will loosen you up.
20. Create something
Creating is the diametric opposite of reacting.
Anxiety springs from allowing yourself to ruminate on the things that trigger you (reactivity). When we create, we’re living out what we were truly made to do…
And this will calm you.
Alex Mathers is a writer and coach who helps you build a money-making personal brand with your knowledge and skills while staying mentally resilient.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.