Anxiety has become a challenge for many people in daily modern life.
When we hear the word anxiety we tend to imagine it dramatically – it makes us think of panic attacks.
In reality, it’s the low-level everyday stress that can often be the most problematic, because it sneaks up on us and erodes our quality of life in ways that might not seem obvious.
It’s important to understand that stress does more than just lessen our enjoyment. It also kills.
Stress impacts our body’s ability to function optimally – it can suppress immune systems and increase susceptibility to diseases and accidents.
We hear often the expression “manage stress,” but I also like the term “metabolize stress,” because metabolism is a process in which you take one thing and turn it into an entirely different thing that’s even more useful to you.
Therefore, to metabolize anxiety is to take the frenetic energy of daily modern life – all its sounds, color, texture and stimuli – and process it into something softer, more creative and thoughtful (instead of letting it pass through our bodies unprocessed, zapping our adrenal glands and frying our central nervous system along the way).
Happily, there are solutions for lessening that feeling of agitation and its negative impact on our everyday lives.
Here are five effective methods for metabolizing daily stress.
1. The 5-Minute Meditation
The goal of meditation is to be here, now.
Meditation is just one of several effective and natural ways to manage anxiety healthily.
It sounds so simple, yet when we take the time to actually witness our own thoughts as they occur, we recognize that they are often centered in the future or the past.
Chewing on the past or projecting into the future is usually not calming to the psyche and body.
What is healing: being present, fully, in this moment. A meditation practice helps that occur.
I call this method “5-Minute Meditation” because if you know that only 5 minutes is required, you’re more likely to actually do it.
Over time and with consistency, you may find that you gradually enjoy meditating for longer periods – my own meditation practice includes morning affirmations and journaling.
If you need a little help getting this ball rolling, you might find one of the many meditation smartphone apps helpful.
2. Positive Internal Dialogue
The soundtrack of our thoughts is what determines our ultimate health. How we speak to ourselves, those imaginary conversations we have inside our heads, the moment-to-moment mind chatter – all of these are hugely impactful to our longevity.
To achieve excellent health, the talk that occurs within our own brains needs to be as positive as possible.
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3. Immersed in Nature
Nature is one of the best soothers out there.
Fresh air, a little sunlight, a quiet walk – all of these have a subtle, but ultimately profound, effect on our bodies and minds.
Daily exposure to nature helps us to better manage anxiety.
It’s easy to forget that for thousands of years our brains were accustomed to using nature as a way to recalibrate the central nervous system.
Slam-cut to thousands of years later: we receive only a fraction of the daily exposure to nature that we used to.
The air is full of noise, signals, and synthetic chemicals that didn’t even exist before the Industrial Age. You had better believe that has an impact on our psyches and stress levels – even if the impact operates outside our day-to-day awareness.
As busy as most of us are these days, we still have time to get at least a few minutes of nature each day (and certainly each week).
In order to find the time for this, we need to look carefully at our typical day and build it in to our schedule: make it a priority, block it out on your calendar, and say “no” to people and invitations that attempt to infringe on your own self-care or quality time with nature.
If you don’t take it seriously, no one else will either.
4. Monitor Your Beverages
For Pete’s sake, if anxiety is an issue with you in any way, please limit yourself to one coffee a day, only, at most! Switch to tea instead. If you’re addicted to caffeine, taper down gradually so as not to get a headache.
Research has established that the caffeine within coffee can trigger unwelcome side effects, such as restlessness, insomnia, rapid heartbeat, nervousness, and agitation – particularly in people who are more sensitive to caffeine’s effects (see sources below this article).When was the last time you were deeply, profoundly relaxed? Click To Tweet
5. Talk Therapy
If you believe that anxiety might be impacting your ability to thrive in your weekly life, I encourage you to seek out a qualified counselor or psychologist. Talk therapy is proven to be helpful in the reduction of anxiety.
You probably will not have to go for very long to get results. Just 4 months of weekly talk-therapy sessions will often produce positive results – then you can take time off from therapy with the knowledge that you can always come back whenever you need a “tune-up.”
Talk therapy is an opportunity for you discover – with the gentle guidance of a trained professional – hidden beliefs that might be blocking you from experiencing deeper meaning and greater happiness.
Ideally, we want to find the “sweet spot” where we can move through the day feeling that our innate talents are being utilized fully – yet without overextending ourselves to the point where small events feel joyless.
I invite you to experiment with these above methods for smoothing out the rough edges of everyday living and improving your quality of life. Remember, however, that these methods are most effective when done consistently.
- who do you know who would find this article helpful or interesting?
- what other natural methods have you used successfully to manage daily stress?
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Talk Therapy Works Even Better than Meds, Says Study – http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2014/talk-therapy-not-medication-best-for-social-anxiety-disorder-large-study-finds.html
New Findings Document Unappreciated Downsides for People Who Consume Too Much Coffee – http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2015/11/coffee.aspx