Feeling overwhelmed by anxiety and stress? This post will leave you with seven helpful tools for the next time you want to reduce anxiety and stress naturally.
These days, it’s harder than ever to keep your anxiety and stress in check because of, you know, everything. Whether it’s that news notification you got that got the overthinking started or the awkward conversation with a coworker that got your heartrate up, we have too much stimulation these days for brains to manage.
It can be tough to regulate our anxiety and stress when not all of us can afford therapy. Plus, we might not be able to afford prescription medicine, assuming we can access it in the first place. That’s why it’s so important to keep a mental toolbox of natural remedies.
This post is all about ways to reduce anxiety and stress naturally.
REDUCE ANXIETY AND STRESS NATURALLY:
We’ve all heard of meditation before, and we all probably have opinions. Personally, as an anxious person, I 100% hate the idea of staying in my own head with my own thoughts for minutes at at time and being told it’s “relaxation.” (Especially when I’m already way too anxious and stressed to want to spend extra time in my head.)
Before you throw out the idea of meditation altogether, you need to try rethinking how you approach meditation. First of all, guided meditation is a freaking miracle when you want to give it a try but actually hate the idea of being stuck all alone with your anxiety.
Second of all, we have to stop thinking about meditation as something we can just start doing without practice. The idea that you just “sit and close your eyes without thinking” is impossible if you’re anything like me and know it’s almost freaking impossible NOT to think.
Start with a minute or two (gauge what you’re ready for and don’t push yourself too hard). Move up from there once you feel like you can manage the smaller amount of time. And remember: this is a great emergency tool, but it’s equally as useful as a frequent go-to for whenever you need it.
2. Pay attention to your breathing
Breathing is super important to regulating your mind. Once you get your body going with the rapid heartbeat, sweating, and hyperventilating, you have to calm your physical symptoms before you can get your mind to follow.
If you’ve ever almost tripped and seen your life flash before your eyes even though you didn’t actually fall, you know how long it takes to get the natural body reaction to calm down. That’s why you have to focus on your breathing when your thoughts are spiraling.
It can start as simple as noticing what your body is doing and where you feel the stress. Identify where you feel tension in your body or areas of pain. Then, notice your breathing. Even if you’re breathing normally (and especially if you’re not), try box breathing.
The GIF above will help you with the counts to slow your body down and, in the process, reduce your anxiety and stress naturally. Hopefully, by regulating your breathing, your thoughts will slow down, too.
3. Write your thoughts down (or talk it out)
When nothing else works, journaling does it for me. Or, at the very least, talking to myself out loud. The moments when I’ve felt the worst with an overwhelming sense of dread that left me wanting to do absolutely nothing—and talking would take the least amount of energy for the hope that I’d find some relief—were when I found talking to be most helpful.
No matter how often we want to get into journaling, we end up skipping a day or two and feeling guilty then never doing it again. Or we think we have to make our journals perfect and never write in them.
Either way, journaling is super helpful and can also be super unattainable (although I do recommend Moleskin journals for durability, function, and minimalism if you want to take it up).
For those days you can’t get your mind to stop fixating, talk it out. You don’t even have to talk to another person, and it can often be easier not to. Just get your thoughts out into the open and say how you’re feeling. Talk it out with yourself, even if there’s no real resolution.
4. Put on a Weighted Blanket
Sometimes, the last thing you should do is lay down and stew in the anxiety and stress. But, sometimes, that’s all you want to do. The problem is that laying down or taking naps because your brain is exhausting you doesn’t always help (and, if we’re honest, it probably rarely helps).
There’s no way to guarantee that it will. But, let’s be honest, there are days we don’t want to try out meditation or go for a walk and I’m not sure if there’s always a way to change the way we feel.
So, even though I can’t guarantee a weighted blanket will be as effective as trying to meditate or writing your thoughts out, I can tell you that it’s better to truly rest rather than guilting yourself. There are always better ways to handle reduce your anxiety and stress naturally, but it can be really hard to access those tools when we’re already fighting battles with our thoughts.
So, if using a weighted blanket to comfort yourself will help on those rough days and make your rest more effective, that’s better than letting yourself feel the anxiety and stress without enjoying the rest.
5. Move your body
The moment you feel yourself wanting to shrink up into your bed or couch and never come out again is the same moment you need to see the downward spiral taking place and get up. Now, you won’t always have the energy or mental stamina, and that’s okay (that’s where the weighted blanket comes into play).
But, on those days where you have the chance, get up and move your body. Whether you do five minutes of yoga, go on a mile run, or walk outside for any length of time, you’ll feel the way it resets your body.
We often get so wrapped up in our anxiety and stress that we forget to live in our bodies rather than just our minds. I know my body often holds more power than my mind and leaning into that has worked well for me when I actually let my body do its thing.
Plus, if you pair a walk outside or going for a run with your favorite podcast or music, you’re even more likely to actually get moving and make it into a habit if you limit your podcast or music to when you’re moving your body.
6. Call someone you trust
You’re not a burden.
Okay, now that we got that out of the way, I want you to think of someone right now who you trust. Most of the time, the person who popped into your head the moment you read that sentence is the person you should call.
Other times, your relationship with that person might be unhealthy or changing and you can’t trust that initial instinct, in which case you should choose the person you’d trust to accompany you to a funeral.
You know as well as I do, in the moment, you won’t want to contact anyone. You’ll feel like the person you made a mental note to contact in case of mental health emergency shouldn’t have to listen to you.
But, if you’ll believe me, I’m telling you to pick up your phone (or get in the car if you feel safe to drive) and get in contact with them. They’ll be incredibly touched that chose them in this moment.
7. Be mindful of stimulants and depressants
Everyone should be aware of their alcohol consumption (or other drugs, including caffeine). From how often to the reason to how it makes you feel after, it’s important to take note of how it might contribute to your anxiety.
It’s natural to want something to calm anxiety and stress in the moment, and we might turn to alcohol on occasion to numb the intrusive thoughts. But, we know it doesn’t fix the problem, so we have to be careful when we start using it as an escape.
When you’re in a frame of mind to reflect on what might be causing your anxiety and stress, think back to see if you can find any patterns. You might notice you get more anxiety after you have had a drink, which ultimately defeats the purpose if you’re wanting to escape.
I’ll admit I love a good cocktail and sometimes the flavor is all I really want. I don’t necessarily need all of the sensations that come after and I’ve found Zero Proof liquor to be a great way to get the flavor without the increased anxiety.