Worrying has become a national habit, with anxiety disorders now affecting around 18 percent of the adult U.S. population, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. These disorders also account for one-third of the nation’s total spending on mental health, around a staggering $40 billion plus each year.
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Whether we’re worried about family, friends, our jobs, health or money, there is never any shortage of things to get anxious about. But with anxiety’s documented link to depression and all the effects it can have on your health and overall well-being, it’s absolutely vital to learn how to get your brain to unwind. Try the following five ways to stop worrying and get yourself into a better space.
1. Be Fully Aware
You may not even know when you’re worrying or how out of control it’s getting. A side effect of living in near-constant anxiety is becoming accustomed to that state, so much so that you no longer recognize it when it’s happening. It just becomes part of daily life, so you no longer work to avoid it or really see the effect the anxiety is having on you, both physically and mentally.
Become more aware of your emotions so you can recognize what is happening and what is causing you to worry. Try putting your emotions into words on paper, saying them aloud or just in your own mind. By simply acknowledging what’s happening to you, you can give yourself some control and worry relief!
A key part of reducing anxiety is being able to see when it’s rising and what is causing that to happen, so don’t be afraid to be honest about what you’re feeling and why.
2. Go For Some Deep Breathing
A deep breath can do wonders for the body when it comes to anxiety. According to the American Institute of Stress, just the act of a deep breath can lessen blood pressure and help relax your body by increasing blood flow to the brain. The deep breath motion works directly against our body’s “fight or flight” response to stress and anxiety.
Try taking a series of deep breaths when you’re overwhelmed. Relax and feel the air going in and out of your lungs. Daily deep breathing can help take the pressure off during worrying times, so be sure to slot it into your schedule each day. Take as many deep breaths as you are comfortable with.
If you’re feeling lightheaded from all the oxygen because you’re not used to it, take a break. You may have to work yourself up in terms of how many deep breaths you can take in one sitting, depending on your health.
3. Stay In The Present
It’s easy to start thinking about what’s happened in the past or what’s coming soon when you’re anxious, but it’s important to stay in the present. There is no real point in worrying over what’s already happened or what may be coming.
Focus on what is going on now only to keep yourself calm and able to handle what you need to. Steer your focus back to the present anytime you find yourself dwelling on the past or worrying over the future.
4. Focus On What You Can Control
No matter how hard you try, there is always going to be some things that are outside of your control. Focus on what you can control to keep your anxiety and stress levels down. An inherent sense of calm will come when you begin to ignore the things you can’t influence.
Just the illusion of having control helps your mind relax and focus on less worrying things, even if you aren’t feeling much in the driver’s seat at the moment.
You can also make some decisions to reinforce control and help your mind focus on what really matters. Try making decisions on some of the matters that are causing you stress. Once you’re not running a bunch of different outcomes over and over in your head, you’ll find yourself less anxious and better able to work on other things.
5. Lower Your Expectations
A perfectionist streak can be both your best friend and worst enemy at the same time. Lower your standards a little bit to take some of the load off your mind. For instance, if you’re stressed over your weight, don’t aim for a stick figure right out of the gate.
Just focus on being healthy instead. Don’t aim for perfection all the time, as it’s simply not possible and causing you unnecessary grief to boot!