The Cambridge Dictionary defines “anxiety” as “an uncomfortable feeling of worry about something that is happening or might happen in the future.” As a medical condition, it is defined as “always feeling frightened or worried.” We live in a world that breeds worry and anxiety. Quite often, anxiety is a “check engine” light signaling imbalances in life. If you are feeling anxious, START SOMEWHERE to navigate anxiety naturally with these simple strategies:
Get consistent sleep: Rest and recovery are just as important as exercise and nutritious food. Studies show that anxiety has been linked to sleep deprivation. Aim for seven to nine hours and establish a consistent bedtime routine. In my world, quality sleep needed to be intentional and required a plan:
- Read or do something relaxing in the hours before bedtime. Sometimes I art journal!
- Design your bedroom to be cool, quiet and dark. We recently got blockout curtains, which makes a huge difference in promoting sound sleep.
- Use your bedroom for relaxation and sleep only.
- Have the “tough” conversations before 7 p.m. Keep stress outside of the bedroom.
- Minimize caffeine after 1:00 p.m. This includes coffee, tea, chocolate,
- Turn off all technology two hours before desired bedtime. In a recent study from the Pew Foundation, researchers found that many social media users absorb the stress that they see on social media.
- Exercise at least a few hours before bedtime. It can wake you up!
Develop a strong social network: Having close friends and people that you can trust is a huge health benefit. Again, you have to be intentional. If you meet someone that you think might become a good friend, invite them to lunch. Ways to find “like-minded” people include:
- Volunteer! Two of my closest friendships were developed via Medical Mission Trips and Boy Scouting. It’s been said that “those who sweat together, stick together” and I’ve found that to be true-in more ways than one!
- Start a walking group. It’s easier to fit physical fitness into your day when it’s attached to commitment with friends.
- Take a class. Vo-techs, art stores, and community colleges offer inexpensive classes to explore hobbies or new skills. It is a great way to meet other people who share similar pursuits or interests.
Stay active physically and mentally: “Use it or lose it” applies to physical movement and mental stimulation.
- Keep moving. Exercise is vital for maintaining strong blood flow to the brain and it produces endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that reduce pain and improve sleep. As little as five minutes of aerobic exercise stimulates anti-anxiety effects.
- Commit to learning something new. Turn off the evening news and explore a new hobby or idea. You might just find a new “favorite.”
LIVE YOUNGER by reducing anxiety. Stress steals your energy and joy. Listen to your body’s “check engine” lights and take action. Navigate anxiety naturally with simple lifestyle modifications. You can do it. I will help you.