6 Mindful Tips to Deal with Anxiety’s Effects on Your Life
Anxiety’s effects on your life can be brutal, interfering with what you want to do, who you want to be with, and how you want to be. A previous post explored six ways anxiety messes with your life. Here, we’ll revisit those nasty effects of anxiety, and I offer six mindfulness-based tips to effectively deal with them. You can implement these mindfulness tips immediately–they don’t need extra tools or preparation–so you can reduce anxiety’s effects on yourself and your life.
Why Mindful Tips Reduce the Effects of Anxiety
Why do mindfulness tips reduce the effects of anxiety? Well, the ultimate repercussion of anxiety is that it takes over your thoughts and feelings. It can dictate your behavior. Anxiety tries to live your life for you, making you both its unwilling puppet and audience to the puppet show it creates. Its show is set in your past and your future, and the stars are automatic negative thoughts, rumination, worry, fear, what-ifs, and worst-case scenarios. If you’ve had enough, take heart. No matter how many locks and strings anxiety has used to keep you out of your own life and stuck in its puppet show, you can use mindfulness to break free and live freely.
Mindfulness is the act of showing up fully for your life despite problems, stress, anxiety, and other disruptive challenges. To do this, you choose to live in your present moment. When your mind wanders to worries about things that have already happened or about what might happen in the future, you simply notice that you’re in anxiety’s puppet theatre and use your senses to focus on something tangible in the here-and-now.
These mindfulness tips are simple in concept but can be challenging to sustain in practice. Thankfully, there are practical things you can do to develop this skill and way of being in your life. The following six tips for reducing the effects of anxiety come to us from mindfulness. They’ll help you stay present and engaged in each moment of your life, thus cutting you loose from anxiety’s puppet show with no strings attached.
6 Mindful Tips to Deal with the Effects of Anxiety
The following effects are taken directly from the previous post mentioned above. Here, rather than revisiting the details of each, we’ll jump straight into the tips for reducing each one.
Anxiety can make you more emotional than you want to be. Anxious emotions are unpleasant, so we often try to ignore them, deny them, or fight to diminish them. This only serves to intensify them because what we focus on is what grows. To feel calmer and more centered when anxiety has you feeling emotional upheaval, develop awareness. Begin to notice subtle emotions beginning to roil around inside of you, and tune in to physical cues as well, such as a new headache, pounding heart, or a wave of nausea. Then, take several slow, deep breaths. Deep breathing turns off the fight-or-flight reaction and activates its calm counterpart, the rest-and-digest response. While this won’t directly change what is making you emotional, it will help you remain calm so you can deal with it.
Living with anxiety can take a toll on physical health. To keep both your mind and body functioning optimally so you can face and solve problems, develop a whole-body anxiety management plan that involves lovingly nurturing your entire being. Eat foods that help anxiety and eliminate or minimize foods that exacerbate it. Exercise regularly, and engage in mindful movement practices such as yoga for anxiety. How you do these things is as important as the activities themselves. When you eat, exercise, or engage in other activities, do them mindfully rather than being preoccupied with your phone, television, or other distractions. This helps keep mind and body present and calm.
Anxiety is a third wheel in relationships. Rather than being caught up in worries about what to say and do or how others may be reacting to you, stay present when you’re with others. Give them your full attention. When your mind wanders to thoughts about others or the situation you’re in, return your attention to the physical person. When you find that you’re making judgments about what’s happening, gently tell yourself, « I’m worrying about what to say, and now I’m going to focus the real person instead. » Then listen to them fully, and you’ll be able to respond when it’s your turn.
Anxiety can interfere in your communication. When you find yourself pressured to talk too much or unable to say much at all, recognize the anxiety that’s driving it, pause, and take a deep breath. Tune into the moment to pick up signals that alert you to when to talk. Listen fully to what’s going on so you can naturally know what to say in response. Remaining calm and mindful this way helps you communicate thoughtfully. You can speak for yourself. You don’t need anxiety to communicate for you.
To experience anxiety is to have self-doubt. To reduce anxiety about yourself, get to know yourself and all your strengths. You might keep a journal to reflect on your interests, talents, and positive character traits. Play the role of a detective, and catch yourself doing things big and small that make you proud. Write affirmations or short descriptions of your strengths, and leave them in places where you can find them. When self-doubt surfaces, recall your positive qualities and pick one to use in your present moment.
Anxiety can lead to avoidance. Begin to notice when your mind wanders or you are doing things to avoid something, and purposefully shift. Develop a sense of gratitude, thinking of positive things about whatever it is anxiety is making you avoid. Feeling gratitude can be motivating because it shifts your focus from problems, worries, and imagined worst-case-scenarios and keeps you focused on what is already positive. Gratitude goes a long way in reducing avoidance and anxiety in general.
Begin to incorporate these mindful tips into your life, and bit by bit, moment by moment, you’ll start to reduce the negative effects anxiety has on your life.