A huge 86% of us in the UK class ourselves as a worrier. Are you? Here are some tips on how to retrain your brain so you can start to enjoy life a little bit more and stop this anxiety.
Autumn time should be about wooded walks with our big boots and coats on, crunching the crispy leaves and warm drinks in front of the fire. But real life isn’t Instagram and if you have a worry prone personality, the stress of juggling work, childcare, and planning for the many seasonal activities coming up can lead to an autumn that is more fraught than fun!
Don’t get me wrong a bit of worry is good for us as it brings our attention to things we need to take care of, but if you are spending a large portion of your time worrying rather than enjoying life then you know you need to start getting your anxiety under control.
Researchers have shown that an average person spends 1 hour 50 mins worrying a day! In a year that equates to 28 days!
There are two distinct tactics you can employ to set your mind at ease:
A: There are a number of quick fix exercises that can be useful for distracting your mind from worrisome thoughts when they occur.
B: You can practice brain re-training to help you get out of the worry habit.
So the next time you feel your brain beginning to fret, give one of these tips a go!
THE 5 MINUTE QUICK FIXES
1.How many Capital Cities do you know?
This is called a grounding exercise. When we worry, we cannot focus on what we need to do to help ourselves, therefore grounding helps us by bringing us back to reality so you can think clearly. You can try and make any type of of lists you desire -as many dog breeds as you can think of, the US states, the X-factor winner over the years and so on….anything that engages your brain.
2. Grab an object – any object!
A great way to tackle your anxiety is to focus all your senses on one object. This focuses all your thoughts in one present place which stops them spiralling. So give it a go, grab and item such as a an apple. Ask yourself, what does it smell like, what does it look like, any blemishes? What noise does it make when you bite into it? How does it feel in your hands and your mouth.
3. This time grab a pen.
Every time I have a big worry or I need to get my thoughts in order, i grab my journal. Research from Ohio State University has shown that writing your thoughts on paper, screwing it up and throwing it away is a great way to deal with unwanted thoughts! By writing it on paper it turns your thoughts into something material, your brain then sees you discarding them and it gets permission to do the same.
4. Take a timeout
Download an app called Headspace (this is not an affiliate link) and try taking 5 minutes in a quiet location and meditate. The app has different packages and one of those is for anxiety where it takes you through techniques for you to become more aware of it and begin to experience it from a different perspective.
5. And breathe…….
A recent study by Northwestern University has shown that noticeably extending how long you breathe out for has been shown to reduce feelings of anxiety. According to the research we are less prone to noticing fearful thoughts when we exhale. Give it a go! Take a normal breath in and then try and exhale for a count of 7-8 seconds.
THE LONGER TERM BRAIN TRAINING
6. Look after your gut
Evidence has shown that having a good balance of healthy bacteria in your gut can aid your mental health and wellbeing. Good gut bacteria plays a big role in producing serotonin which is a neurotransmitter that makes us feel happy and calm. So how do you get this good balance and a healthy gut? Eat plenty of foods such as onion, garlic, fennel and artichokes (these act as fuel for the good bacteria). Also fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut and pickles can increase the levels of healthy bacteria.
7. Schedule your time
Schedule a 20-30 minute period in your day to deal with all your worries at once. You will find that your worries will creep into your mind outside of your scheduled time but don’t fret. Carry a notebook around with you, write it on a list and you can deal with it later. Often you may find that when you come to your sit down time, your concerns are not relevant any longer. This helps you understand that most worries are transient.
8. Rethink the descriptor of your feeling
Renaming your feeling of worry as excitement can make you feel less anxious. When you feel excited you see things more as a challenge rather than a hurdle and by switching this one word it removes the fear.
9. Try some essential oils
Working in the fragrance industry this is one of my favourite options! Throughout the years, lavender has been used for its soothing and sedative qualities and is known to help reduce anxiety levels. Try using some of the essential oil in an oil burner or as a massage oil to help calm your mind. I use a lavender oil roller ball and rub it over my pulse points. You can also buy lavender oil supplements made with special edible oil that are shown to inhibit anxiety. Read more here.
10. Get your gratitude journal out
An excellent way to train your brain to not focus on the dangers and problems is to practice gratitude daily. This helps your brain to focus on the positive things in your life. It doesn’t have to be huge – it could be the delicious sandwich you made yourself for lunch today! Every morning or evening (whichever fits best in your day) write down three things you are grateful for. The journal I use is above and I love it!
Let me know if you have any hints/tips that help you reduce your anxiety levels below.
Simple Joy was founded by Hayley Forster, a Wellness & Lifestyle Coach. Hayley is an advocate of intentional living, with a passion in helping others simplify their lives in order to find their ideal lifestyle full of contentment, creativity and authenticity!
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