Anxiety affects millions of people around the world. Generally speaking, anxiety is common and often the fear-driven response to worrying or stress. Anxiety rears its head most often when experiencing problems, preparing for something important, making critical decisions, or during/after traumatic events.
The presence of anxiety is a signal that something difficult and stressful is imminent or has just occurred. Anxiety helps serve as a signal or wake up call for us to realize that something significant has happened and might happen again, is currently happening or will happen in the future. Almost all states of anxiety incorporate fear to some degree.
Many people are plagued by anxiety disorders. When general anxiety spirals into an anxiety disorder, the symptoms become all too real and debilitating. Anxiety disorders come in many shapes and sizes, and they can become chronic.
Many times the propensity to experience anxiety disorders is inherited. Some of the symptoms that people experience from both general anxiety and anxiety disorders are:
- Restlessness and the inability to relax
- Sleep issues (difficulty falling asleep and/or staying asleep)
- Health problems (headaches, stomach issues, heart problems, etc.)
- Inability to concentrate and easily distracted
- Lack of mindfulness, tendency to live in the past and/or the future
- Living regularly in states of fear, uncertainty, and worry
- Emotional instability
- Difficulty maintaining healthy relationships
- Easily agitated and difficulty controlling one’s temper or anger
- Substance abuse
- Forgetful, flighty behavior
- Nervousness and sweaty hands
- Reclusive behavior due to fear
- Learning disabilities
- Low self-esteem and lack of confidence
- Feeling “stuck” and unable to change negative patterns
- Psychological challenges
- Depression and thoughts of self harm and/or suicide
When people experience anxiety, common challenges and difficulties can become insurmountable. The symptoms can vary from person to person, and from experience to experience. Coping skills become unattainable and the state of “overwhelm” sets in.
This state of overwhelm carries with it a tornado of symptoms that impair one’s ability to solve problems and make decisions in a logical manner. There are ways to help manage anxiety and some simple steps are outlined below. But people who feel out of control, and pulled into states of anxiety that seem disproportionate to their current experience, should seek the help of a qualified medical practitioner.
Since life can be unpredictable, and anxiety is a part of our experience, it is a good idea to learn steps to help manage anxiety. Children and teenagers who learn some of these simple steps are better equipped to navigate the terrain of life – which can be full of anxiety “landmines.” If we make it possible to substitute anxiety with more positive experiences, we may be able to lay down new patterns for attracting more goodness and less stress.
Living a meaningful life will certainly help glean more happiness and positivity!
10 Simple Steps to Manage Anxiety and Live Meaningfully
- Breathing Techniques
Deep breathing calms our nervous system and diminishes the fight-or-flight impulse:
- Pause, and close your eyes
- Inhale deeply through your nose to the count of 5
- Exhale through your mouth to the count of 7
- Repeat 5 times and focus on each breath
- Meditation and Mindfulness
It is important to take the time to focus on mindful meditation at least once a day (2-3 times even better!). The act of stopping all activity to focus on stillness or guided, focus driven meditation will allow you to access an alpha state that is available to all of us.
This alpha state of consciousness enables you to dwell in a calm, healthy state – thereby fostering regeneration on cellular, energetic, emotional, and mental levels. We charge our electronic devices, and we must also recharge ourselves!
Get plenty of it and learn how to enhance your sleep. Meditation techniques can greatly help as you prepare to sleep. Essential oils, absence of electronic stimulation, lovely bed and pillow, and peaceful bedtime ritual can all create a spa-like atmosphere, in which you become delighted to put your head on the pillow.
- Play More
Yes, play. Create art, fly a kite, take a hike, go to the park or beach, or take a dreamy vacation. It is important to take breaks throughout your day, week, month, and year. The ability to refresh our lives and break from routines keeps the energy fresh and staves off becoming stale.
- Participate in Meaningful Activities
List events, classes, organizations, or philanthropies that mean something to you in an altruistic sense. Then, participate in those endeavors by enrolling in training classes, volunteering opportunities, participating in fundraisers, working on related projects, etc.
- Learn and Read
Reading books should be a part of your daily routine. Even if you just have ten minutes to read, that is ten minutes well-spent. If you are often on-the-go, download a book on audibles and listen to it in the car or while exercising, cooking, gardening, etc. If there is something you have always wanted to learn, enroll in a class or workshop.
Then, once you have finished that book or class, start another! Keep you brain engaged and learning; the growth and development will allow you to plug more into your purpose!
What lights you up? What gives you inspiration?
- Do you feel inspired and fulfilled when you attend church?
- Do you feel inspired when you play your favorite music?
- Do you feel inspired when you gaze at beautiful art?
- Do you feel inspired when you lie on the beach or on a hammock in a peaceful park and admire nature?
- Do you feel inspired when you sing or attend a symphony?
Do the things that make your heart sing. And, actually schedule inspirational events and activities into your calendar.
We all drink beverages throughout the day, but being mindful of drinking enough water is essential. Dehydration causes a decrease in energy to the brain. Studies show that when we become dehydrated, it can induce anxiety or nervousness.
Caffeinated beverages and alcohol can increase dehydration, so (when possible) limit partaking in them and replace them with water. Drinking plenty of water will help create a healthy experience and a healthy body.
- Nutrition and Exercise
Eating a well-balanced diet with low sugar and fats will help your system maintain energy. Avoiding chemical substances and preservatives is also key.
Exercising consistently will also help your body to remain in a strong, regenerative, and energetic state. Take cooking classes or fitness classes; learn new ways to implement balanced nutrition and fitness into your life to keep it fresh.
- Find Opportunities for Kindness
Pay it forward whenever possible. Do random acts of kindness and deliberate acts of kindness. Help someone cross the street, share a smile, or simply say hello to a lonely person. Donate old clothes and household goods to a local charity. Be a go-giver and you will receive abundance.
As Dr. Amit Ray said, “if you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” While this is easier said than done, if you take one step at a time to incorporate these new habits, you will increase your chances of living a life full of meaning.