How I've learned to successfully deal with anxiety over the last many years
You know that feeling of intense fear and intrusive worry?
Yeah, that one - that’s anxiety.
We hear about it all the time - people like to use the word loosely in their everyday lives when they face a challenge or receive bad news.
Anxiety is something that we cope with on a regular basis. Very few individuals can overcome obstacles calmly and I commend them for that because we can’t all be monks.
Learning how to deal with anxiety will help make our day-to-day lives just a little bit easier, and who wouldn’t want that, right?
Here are some simple but effective ways to minimize anxiety and help you live a more relaxing and stress-free life.
Socializing with friends and family
Have you ever noticed how much better you feel once you have vented to a friend or family member? Sometimes it’s important for us to vocalize the things we find troubling.
In order for this method to work we need to identify the right people to approach. Not all our friends may be capable of listening to us vent and rant - this requires the right type of personality.
Try to think about which one of your friends, or family members, is the best listener. Someone who can really be patient enough to sit and listen no matter how many times you repeat yourself.
Some people just don’t have the patience to listen to someone for more than 5 minutes and can tune-out quite easily. You really want to find someone who can give you some feedback so you know you are being heard.
Sometimes ranting is all you need to do and once it is out of your system you will feel better.
Write all your thoughts and feelings in a journal
What if you don’t have that friend that is an amazing and patient listener? No need to fret! You can always write your thoughts in a journal.
Journaling is a methodology that has been used for centuries, to not only subdue anxiety, but to also catalogue sentiment and assist people with personal development.
Write in the journal in the same tone you would when venting to a friend. Don’t think about grammar or spelling, just let loose. By the end of the process it is likely that you will feel better and it also compartmentalizes your feelings. This is the key, to deal with your emotions, because more emotional people will be prone to frequent anxiety.
Even the process of writing with a pen has its therapeutic advantages.
For those of you that appreciate calligraphy, you will find that writing has a similar effect as doodling or scribbling - it does for me. Many people like to doodle when they are in deep or creative thought.
If you’re skeptical about starting journaling but you’re into gear and gizmos, you can find a cool looking notebook and pen to add just a little fun to the process. There are all sorts of interesting designs to choose from. Keep the pen and notebook nearby and whenever you feel anxious, just write in it.
After several entries it will become a bit more of a habit and you’ll be ready to combat your anxiety every step of the way.
At first I was hesitant, but I later realized that meditation is one of the best ways to control anxiety
Cross your legs, close your eyes and ohhmmmm...
If there is one stereotypical method for reducing anxiety - it would definitely be meditation.
However, it is a stereotype for a reason. Calming the mind is the key to fighting the flurry of thoughts in your head when under stress.
Unlike the previous 2 options I mentioned earlier, this form of anxiety reduction requires patience and practice. But once you master this skill, you will have yet another tool to fight anxiety.
The first step should be to place yourself in an environment that promotes concentration and tranquility. Even a quiet room, with dimmed lighting, will give you the proper effect. Eventually you can get creative and play with different light settings and scents - whatever gives you a calming effect.
You can then choose a pose that jives with your body - you have to be comfortable. You can be seated with your legs crossed or even lay on your bed with your arms and legs spread wide open. Try various options and see what works best for you. It will be different for everyone.
A lot of people prefer to meditate with a warm bath and oils. There are just so many options available.
In the beginning of your meditation journey, you should get some guidance from a Youtube video. They are usually 20 minutes long and can really help you focus. Once you have gone through enough guided videos, you will be able to do it yourself and go deeper into your meditation, since listening to a voice can be distracting sometimes.
I found that intense workouts help refresh my mind allowing me to have a new perspective
Martial arts is a lot more than just cage fighting and chopping bricks in half.
It’s easy for me to just recommend ‘exercise’ on its own, but the truth is, in order to really push yourself to a point where you can forget your woes, you need to do an intense exercise.
What constitutes an ‘intense exercise’? Well, anything that raises your heart rate as high as possible, for as long as possible. Exercise in general boosts serotonin levels, a hormone that positively impacts mood and can help ward off depression.
I would say, if you really want to give your exercise some edge - try modern martial arts. This usually includes kickboxing, muay thai, Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ), judo and wrestling.
I am a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, so I will naturally recommend BJJ, however, it is a sport that is beneficial on multiple levels; physically, mentally and socially. The combination of these factors leaves practitioners so drained and satisfied after a class that they go home too exhausted to worry about anything else. Sometimes I even have a different perspective on a situation, it’s almost like a mental refresh.
It helps my brain realize; “Hey, the situation is not as bad as I thought and I can handle it quite easily afterall.”
This clarity is invaluable.
All I can say is that you should try it, because for me, it is the best method - by far. And the best thing about it is that you can start at any age!
But if martial arts isn’t your cup of tea, no worries, there are plenty of other intense exercises to choose from like circuit training, cross fit, spinning, boxing, tabata training (a type of timed high intensity workout), rowing and many more.
So there you have it! 4 methods that, when done regularly and with practice, can easily help you reduce your anxiety on a daily basis and give you a boost in your quality of life.
Just a recap, these methods are:
Words by Matt Soroka