When your anxious thoughts creep up from all sides to start whining in your ear, you may feel that fighting them is a pointless venture. Fortunately, we’ve gathered some advice that you can pull out on those gloomy days when your mind leaves you to drown in its midst. Check out these tips for rising above your anxious thoughts.
1. Get On Your Bike
We know: when the air itself seems to press down on you from all sides, you’re in no mood to jump up and get your day started. Do not lose hope! Even if you’re not in the mood for an hour long sweat session, a short walk around the block never fails get those endorphins whizzing through your body.
2. Imagine the Way Out
That’s a literal instruction: use the power of images to weasel your way out of any mental trap. If you’re worried about an upcoming performance, force yourself to visualize the entire audience wearing nothing but scratchy yellow long johns. It’s a sure-fire way to both lighten your mood and stop taking the external sources of your anxiety so seriously.
3. Take a Breather
It may seem impossible to slow yourself down to take a mindful moment, but it’s a time-tried way to infuse your thoughts with equanimity. Meditation releases serotonin in your brain, and serotonin is a chemical that will make you feel better. It’s that simple.
4. Flash Those Pearly Whites
Or just smile privately at the ceiling in your bedroom. If you’re caught in the throes of anxiety, it may feel ridiculous. You may find yourself wondering why you even deserve to feel happy. That’s your anxiety talking! A smile is the perfect antidote to your nasty thoughts: the mere act of it has been shown to improve temperament.
5. Create Something
Interacting with the world when you’re feeling down can ease you out of your isolation. Whether it be a journal entry, an angry doodle or starting a conversation with a stranger, breathe life into a new experience. It’s okay if this doesn’t completely break you out of your shell; a few new cracks are still progress!
6. Speak Your Own Name
One gruelling part of the anxiety experience is how you can start to feel defined by your turbulent mind. Next time you have a little time and space to spare, snap yourself out of this rut by whispering your own name. If you feel arrogant or silly—that’s okay! Keep it up until you start to feel like the beautiful human being you are.
7. Show Yourself Some Love
Take care of yourself—it’s the only one you’ve got! This doesn’t have to mean getting all glammed up or losing a hundred pounds in two days. We’re talking about brushing your teeth regularly, combing your hair, and being kind to your skin. If you start showing yourself the physical care you need, your mind will eventually catch on to the trend.
8. Let Kindness Lead the Way
Stay on the lookout for opportunities to boost someone else’s spirits. This can mean helping a friend with some homework, calling your parents just to tell them you love them, or doing your roommate’s dishes. Helping out not only connects you to the world, but lets you appreciate your own goodness in the process.
9. Sit Down at the Table
When you already feel suffocated by the urgency of your own thoughts, you may not want to even think about adding social interaction to the list of things you have to worry about. Feeling this way is normal, but give yourself a little push—spending time with others and their thoughts will put your own in perspective.
10. Do Something Silly
Anxiety is such a bummer because it forces you to take it so seriously. Remind yourself that nothing is ever that important by watching a funny video, jumping on your bed, or making goofy faces at yourself in the mirror. You’ll find that laughter loosens even the tightest of thought knots.
11. Detach Yourself
Whatever form they may take, start observing your anxious thoughts rather than engaging them. Instead of thinking about how worthless you are, think about how your mind is telling you how worthless you are. You can even gently admonish your anxiety for being so harsh; that’s not a very helpful way to convey a message!
12. Talk to Someone
Despite the difficulty, try to find a way to open your heart to someone. Making yourself vulnerable is hard, but it’s sure to lighten your load and strengthen your bond with your confidant.
13. Focus on the Good Things
It’s easier said than done, but it’s still pretty easily done. There may be heaps of stuff you’re not grateful for, and you probably have good reason to feel that way. There’s also almost certainly one gleaming pearl in the charcoal pit. Focus on what gleams! It’s been shown by countless studies: gratitude improves your mood.
14. Lighten Up
Not everything has to be perfect—not even you! Anxiety results from feeling attached to a certain result. Whatever it is you’ve been fixating on, be it a possession, a goal or a label, there’s always room to let it go. You will still be a fabulous person even if you can’t hold onto the thing you want. (CN)
15. Forgive Yourself for Feeling Anxious
Two words: it’s okay. It’s not your fault that you’re feeling some anxiety, and it’s also not your fault that you’re finding it hard to overcome it. Take time to remind yourself that you have a reason to feel the way you feel. You don’t have to understand your own thoughts, but you can still choose to be patient with them. Your anxiety probably won’t vanish overnight, so you might as well embrace it—and yourself, with open arms.
Easing yourself out of a rut isn’t easy. Living with anxiety is never fun and rarely even bearable, so you can expect there to be a bit of an uphill climb. Experiment with these fifteen useful tips, find what works for you, and try to stick with it. As you venture out of your own habits and into new mental terrain, remember that every thought you have is simply a part of your journey.