This is a guest post by Marie Miguel.
Life can be a stressful affair, filled with unreasonable colleagues, maniacal drivers and a thousand niggling distractions that sometimes seem to take up far more than 24 hours a day. While these frustrations and worries seem to just slide off some people, others tend to accumulate mental strain despite trying to relax.
Constant mental anxiety can easily make a person’s life a misery. A moderate amount can help us focus and face challenges more effectively, but anxiety that persists for too long can easily turn into depression, lead to panic attacks and even have a serious impact on your physical health.
The good news is that there are some habits and exercises that anyone can use to get rid of anxiety. If you’re frequently nervous, find it difficult to concentrate and tend to expect the worst outcome in every situation, simply learning a few tricks designed to help you relax may be all you need to improve your overall happiness.
Devote Some Time Each Day to Reflection
In between work, taking care of family and all of the distractions modern life entails, we often neglect actually thinking about where we are in life and where we are heading. Setting aside a period each day specifically for examining your circumstances and how you feel about them can be a great way to get clarity on your emotions and what to do about them.
Journaling every day about whatever happens to be on your mind is not only a great way of managing your state of mind, but allows you to look back over previous weeks to discover what common themes exist in your life. Other options are meditation or simply taking a few minutes at bedtime to review the important events of the day.
Join a Gym or Buy Some Running Shoes
As more and more people are learning, regular exercise lowers your blood pressure in more ways than one. Aside from the health benefits and making you feel much more energized, even moderate amounts of physical activity have been proven to contribute greatly to better mental health, including feeling less anxious. Exercise also improves your sleep cycle, makes you better able to remember things and of course reduces your risk of several types of chronic disease.
Learn to Talk About What’s Bothering You
A child learns to talk within only a few years, yet surprisingly, most people never really learn to communicate. In particular, many of us haven’t mastered the skills involved in handling contentious issues or explaining how we are really feeling.
This is unfortunate: being able to talk about such things not only helps to avoid and defuse conflict, but is also a great way to gain a broader perspective on life in general. For many people, regularly talking to a trusted friend or spouse is all that’s needed to keep them from making emotional molehills into mountains, but professional counseling is also a good choice – especially if you often feel anxious.
Pay Attention to Your Breathing and Posture
Perhaps due to the modern, sedentary lifestyle, most people are used to breathing very shallowly. Using only a small fraction of your lung capacity means that less oxygen makes it into your bloodstream and from there to your brain. This can, by itself, make you feel more tense and decrease your mental acuity. Even worse, the more stressed you get, the more your chest tends to close up, leading to a catch-22 situation.
Although none of us want to be conscious of our breathing all of the time, practicing deep breathing is one of the simplest, fastest ways to stop your thoughts from running away from you. Simply place a hand on your abdomen and feel it expanding as you breathe through your nose, making sure that you empty your lungs completely on the exhale.
On a closely related note, not sitting up straight or slouching your shoulders will certainly affect your breathing, but also plays a more direct role in how you feel. Scientists studying how humans show emotions have found that our posture and facial expressions actually affect our feelings, so if you’re under pressure, “turning that frown upside down” may be less trite advice than you think.
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health-related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.
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