Habits are a real double-edged sword. They can work in your favour, keeping you in a healthy routine of exercise, early nights and positive engagement with the outside world. Unfortunately, habits can also work against you, leading you down a path of unhealthy consumption (junk food, alcohol, etc.), irregular sleep and isolation. When you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s so much easier to let the unhealthy habits fester than it is to develop healthy, productive ones. It’s always possible to create healthy habits, though, and if you can incorporate a few of them into your life, you’ll find it so much easier to break free from the shackles of anxiety. Plus, they’ll help you get the most out of day-to-day life.
Consider taking up with one (or several) of the following anxiety-reducing habits:
Keep a Journal
Journaling is beneficial for a wide range of reasons. When anxiety is clouding your head, writing out your thoughts can help you ‘calm the storm’ and understand your emotions. It can also be good for keeping track of your irrational beliefs; many people find that seeing their irrational ideas written on a page helps break them down. There are no rules to what you can and can’t write in a journal: thoughts, feelings, ideas, poems, confessions or even just meaningless scribbles. It’s not a Hollywood film; your sentences don’t need to be insightful or perfectly eloquent. You can write whatever you feel like writing. It’s your space for free and completely personal expression.
Get Some Fresh Air
Whether it be running, walking or just sitting in a park reading a book, incorporating dedicated ‘outside time’ into your daily routine is a superb way to keep your anxiety in check. Especially right now, with the world being urged to refrain from socialising in-person, it can be easy to spend the days cooped up inside. Spending just half an hour outside each day can dramatically improve your mood and any anxious symptoms.Melatonin and vitamin D, both absorbed from sunlight, are natural mood-boosters which have been proven to aid symptoms of anxiety. Of course, you don’t need scientific evidence to understand how being outside is good for your overall well being!
Meditation. It might feel like you hear that word everywhere you go, but that’s for a very good reason. If there’s one thing that serves as the perfect antidote to the racing thoughts and panic of anxiety, it’s a period of time—just 5 or 10 minutes—each day devoted to nothing but stillness, just being at peace and free from troublesome anxious thoughts. It’s difficult at first, and it might feel like it isn’t ‘working’, but with meditation, the more you practise it the more effective it becomes. Just 5 or 10 minutes per day is enough to have a serious impact on your quality of life. Close your eyes, breathe and give it a try.
Remember, healthy habits are built one day at a time. You don’t need to worry about whether you’ll keep a practise going in three week’s time; all that matters is that you keep it up today!
anxiety breathing development mood self-improvement self-talk