When was the last time I was anxious? Hmmm, let me think. Ten minutes ago? We live in anxious times. Amidst meeting our daily obligations, managing our career goals, and handling pressures placed on us from the outside, it’s no wonder we increasingly accept anxiety as a norm with which we are forced to live. However, we don’t have to let it silently weigh us down and hamper our ability to deal with issues. I’ve found that when I’m feeling any sort of unease, these tips help return me to a place where feelings of calm and peace ultimately prevail over apprehension.
1. Distance yourself from “toxic” people and solidify your support group.
Those you spend the majority of your time with undoubtedly have an influence on your mental well-being. If you routinely find yourself feeling more worried, tired, depressed, or anxious after being around a certain person or group of people—take notice. The people you choose to surround yourself with either recharge your batteries and help enforce feelings of self-worth or exhaust your energy and make it easier for anxiety to prevail.
2. Take a “stay-cation” if you can’t vacation.
No need to worry about lost luggage, expensive airplane tickets, or long layovers. Allowing yourself to take a guilt-free weekend hiatus at home and venture to your “happy place” can ease your emotions and quiet your mind from rushing at a rate of 100 tpm (one hundred thoughts per minute). Even if you don’t have a weekend to devote, forcing yourself to do something you enjoy, whether losing yourself for a few minutes in a compelling novel, busting out your best Beyoncé moves in the privacy of your own room, or singing in the shower, can offer a much-needed escape from pressing concerns—real, imagined, or unnecessarily exaggerated. A brief respite is sometimes all it takes to put things in perspective and restore mental order.
[Related: Why You Should Take a Stay-Cation.]
3. Never underestimate the power of humor.
Next time you find yourself overly anxious or worried, ask yourself whether it truly signals the end of the world and, if not, find a way to make light of the situation. When you make time to laugh and take yourself a little less seriously, you liberate yourself from the pressure to be perfect and subsequently become less susceptible to anxiety.
4. Run toward your fears, not away.
Anxiety often goes hand in hand with the debilitating fear of failure or of the unknown. Instead of running from the things that make us anxious, try attacking them head on. As Gail Fanaro explains, “Once you can know the impact of failing on your life, then the fear becomes very manageable.” Exposing ourselves to our fears can lead us to the realization that our worries are often rooted far from reality and, with this realization, feelings of anxiety that typically arise from a specific situation will become far less paralyzing.
5. Get enough sleep, fuel your body, and break a sweat.
There are a number of studies that cite the beneficial effects of a healthy lifestyle in combating anxiety. Remind yourself that caring for your body doesn’t take crucial time away from your work or other obligations; it’s not a form of self-centered pampering. In fact, it will energize you, making you more productive in the long run. By physically taking care of yourself, you equip your body and mind to better handle day-to-day concerns.
6. Be where you are.
We’ll never get back the time and energy we waste agonizing over circumstances we can’t change. When you feel the grips of anxiety taking hold, acknowledge that these emotions are generally not coming from the immediate present, but rather concerns over the past or future. Repeat a mantra (it doesn’t have to be fancy) to ground yourself when you find your mind wandering to any place but the here and now. Try meditating on this thought: “I am here, and I am okay.”
7. Pride yourself on your adaptability.
Mental flexibility is key to overcoming anxiety. Coupled with fear of the unknown, it’s tempting to try and control every minute detail of our lives and get discouraged when things don’t go exactly as planned. Make a conscious decision to give yourself a break and gracefully accept the fluidity and unpredictability of life, rather than drain your energy obsessing over minor details.
8. Pick up an inspirational book.
Anxiety can affect even the strongest and wisest among us. Engaging in self-help is an act of personal empowerment, not weakness. Books like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Brett Blumenthal’s A Whole New You: Six Steps to Ignite Change for Your Best Life, and Christine Hassler’s Twenty Something, Twenty Everything put matters in perspective, reassure you there are others experiencing similar travails, and are naturally calming.
What are your tips for beating nerves like a pro? Share with us in the comments!
Ask Levo Mentor Maggy Frances Shultz, Founder of Maggy Francis, how she handled anxiety when she was a fashion assistant and how she deals with nerves while she runs her own company!
Photo: Tim Mossholder / Unsplash