5 Simple Things To Do To Help Anxiety
These steps can work miracles for your peace of mind
Five years ago, after losing my father to dementia, my body started doing some weird things. We were on vacation in Maine, at a beautiful seaside home, and instead of feeling relaxed in that magical setting, I wanted to crawl out of my skin. I couldn’t concentrate on the books I normally loved reading, I couldn’t sleep and I couldn’t relax. My left arm felt very restless and my thumb developed some muscle twitches. Pins and needles plagued my feet. I tried to ignore these annoyances and get back to the business of enjoying our vacation.
A few months later and I had visited a neurologist, a naturopath, an acupuncturist and a chiropractic healer, but I was unable to discover a cause. I finally visited my GP and after listening to my story, he pulled out his computer and said, “take this test, and I’ll be right back”. I was a bit surprised when I looked at his computer and realized it was a test to diagnose depression. After I took the test, he came back in and we discussed the results. While it didn’t appear that I had depression, I definitely could be suffering from anxiety. Depression and anxiety can go hand in hand. He coached me to see a specialist to make sure we were accurately diagnosing the problem. I was later diagnosed with generalized anxiety. I was very relieved to find a reason for these symptoms. Now that I was aware, I could take healing action. I tried some medication that did help some, but was still always on the hunt for even more effective ways to soothe my anxiety.
In retrospect, I realized that over the past several years I had tried many methods to deal with my high stress level and monkey mind. I was a working mother and wife with a demanding corporate job. My default setting was a constant flow of adrenaline buzzing in my system. I tried traditional therapy, integrative medicine, meditation, CBT, Craniosacral therapy, acupuncture, acupressure, massage, and a myriad of supplements. Some treatments I tried, I don’t even recall the name of. I spent thousands of dollars and while I may have felt a bit better right after leaving those appointments, nothing had lasting power.
But then my daughter gave me a book for Christmas 2020. When the Covid-19 pandemic shut down Los Angeles in March of 2020, I began reading lots of self help and inspirational books. Some had great messages, but as I devoured them, I realized none of them were sticking with me. Until that book I received for Christmas. It was called “Super Attractor” by Gabrielle Bernstein, an author and motivational speaker, previously unknown to me. I remember thinking the title was kind of cheesy, but still I was immediately drawn to read the book. I read it very quickly. That book started me on a journey through the rest of Gabby’s books and on to some others she recommended from Dr. Wayne Dyer and Marianne Williamson. To date, I can’t even count the books I’ve read or listened in this genre, and there are important synchronicities in all of them. Practicing these teachings has brought me a definite sense of peace. Below, I’ve summarized and adapted some of most simple and effective steps and practices that have worked miracles for me. Here is a list of 5 things to do today to curb anxiety. Try one of more of these steps and don’t overthink it. But also please remember, I am not a medical doctor, nor is this advice meant to replace advice of medical professionals.
- Take one small action from a service minded perspective, without any regard for personal gain. This can be something as simple as picking up something from the grocery store for a neighbor. One idea I love is hiding a 5 dollar bill somewhere outside of your home with a sticky note on it that says, “enjoy a treat today on me”. You can even clean out a closet and donate the items you feel could serve someone else.
- Tell someone in your life how much you appreciate them and why. This can be in person, a text or a phone call. If you want to experience magic, write an old-fashioned letter, mail it, and wait a couple of days.
- Avoid your devices and sit in silence for a few minutes when you first wake up in the morning. Listen to the birds. Even listening to the sound of a garbage truck can be more peaceful than reading distressing news. You can do a few minutes of breathing, in for 5, hold for 5, out for 5, wait 5 and do it again. Another thing to try is to remember an event in your life that made your feel really good, and dwell in that feeling for a few minutes. I try to start each day device free for at least 30 minutes and it has made a world of difference for me.
- Have one conversation that is completely free of judgement. Listen intently to the other person. Think to yourself, would I rather be right, or happy? If you have a teenager in your life, see how this one works miracles.
- Do something that brings you joy. This one sounds harder than it is. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive. For me it can be as simple as a walk where I really pay attention to my surroundings. Call an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and tell them you were thinking of them. Head to the pet supply store to observe the dogs playing in doggy daycare for a few minutes.
Don’t worry about tomorrow, just do one of these today and observe how you feel. Everyone has worries and fears that creep in, but the idea is to spend less time with those worries and fear and more time with joy and love each day.