Four Ways to Reduce Anxiety and Worry

January 27, 2017

For the past week, I’ve found myself waking every morning from anxious dreams. I’m OK during the day when I can use my conscious mind to relax, but by night, my subconscious takes over…and evidently it’s worried. I suspect this is a reaction to the level of anxiety in my nation and the world right now. While I can’t seem to help being anxious and worried about the future, I realize that those feelings are completely useless and are robbing me of joy. Maybe you feel the same? So I’ve been actively trying to reduce my anxiety levels instead of pretending things are fine or simply distracting myself. Here are four things I’m doing to combat anxious feelings:

  1. Accept that yes, I live in troubled times. There is suffering, hate, misogyny, fear. This, sadly, is nothing new. We will always have to fight the darkness if we don’t want it to overcome the light. 
  1. Refuse to add to the darkness by expressing hate for people or institutions I don’t like or disagree with. (Yes, I’m allowed to dislike and disagree—but I don’t have to express my opinions and feelings in a bombastic, dogmatic way.) Don’t add to my fear by reading and watching lots of news. Avoid lengthy discussions about problems the world faces. When I do choose to read the news, I choose the most unbiased sources I can find, look for context, and don’t accept stories without verifying.  I don’t bother with sources that specialize in half-truths or click bait, even if they’re primarily intended as entertainment.
  1. Support my body, mind, and spirit with uplifting, anxiety-reducing simple pleasures. Use my essential oils to calm anxiety and support my immune system. Be present and mindful. Enjoy the cooler weather we’re having by walking more, and opening the windows for some fresh air (I rarely do that here because of the humidity). Spend extra time with Tank, my four-legged therapist. Listen to happy music while working. Read a good book. (Check out Belle’s list of spirit lifting books here and mine here.)
  1. Look for ways to spread kindness and happiness. Encourage others, donate money, be a good citizen. Be kind, help out, stay positive. Don’t give up on looking and hoping for the best.
There’s nothing ground-breaking here, but that doesn’t mean these practices are either easy or worthless. They are within my power to do, as so many other things are not.

As Corrie ten Boom said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength.” Now if only I could convince my subconscious of that.

How do you soothe yourself when you feel anxious?

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  1. I really need to stop going to Facebook, which seems to be where I see the majority of my "news" these days. It's really upsetting and I should just stop. But then I wouldn't connect with my friends, so I guess I need to find a way to stop clicking on all the "stories" people share. I don't know. . .

  2. Dear Kathy these are great helps when one becomes anxious. I especially love the quote from Corrie ten Boom. What an amazing lady. Hope you have read her story in the Hiding Place. She certainly had to learn how to face fear. Hope you have a good weekend. Hugs!

  3. Cheryl--I know, Facebook can be a real anxiety producer. It's hard to remain focused on friends' updates and not get sucked in to the stories. Good luck! :)

  4. Debbie--You know, I haven't read The Hiding Place, but that quote has been one of my favorites for years.

  5. Great thoughts, Kathy. I'm feeling the same right now. Part of me agrees that there's no point to allowing the anxiety to drag me down when there's not much I can do, but then I wonder if I should be letting that anxiety push me to do more than I am. I think peace will come to me once I settle on a few actionable things I can do to make the world a better place right now (from my own worldview, of course), and then let the rest go.
    I did start meditation again last week- I haven't always had patience for it, but it's going very well this time. I'm using the Headspace app and going through the "creativity" series, which is resonating with me. I've definitely noticed a difference in my ability to stay in the moment, and to release the negative thoughts sooner.
    And getting off social media would really help too. I don't watch the news (unless you count the Daily Show or Samantha Bee) so it would be better to get my news from my NY Times subscription than click on all the questionable links on Facebook.

  6. Leanne--It is difficult to find the balance of letting the anxiety go, and using it to prompt action.

    I have only tried formal meditation practices a few times, and my mind is all over the place. It's something I "should" do more often. I like idea of meditating on creativity, though, so maybe will have to check out the series on the Headspace app.