Anxiety Relieving Activities Which Actually Work

Anxiety Relieving Activities Which Actually Work

How are you holding up right now? Are you living and loving life? Or are you struggling with overwhelming anxiety and a sense of impending doom?

Recent events have impacted every single one of our lives, to some degree. Whether it’s the virus, social injustice, or a tanking economy, stress is everywhere you look. Anxiety lurks around every corner.

It seems as if each new day presents a fresh reason to stress out!

My own struggles with anxiety have taken me to dark places in my life. Places where it’s impossible to focus on anything other than fear concocted by my subconscious. And places where peace, joy, and happiness are nowhere to be found.

But you can take back control of your life and tame those racing thoughts! Each of the following anxiety relieving activities has a positive impact on my own life and is worth trying in your own.

Much like storm clouds taking over a sunny day, so too can anxiety overshadow your life with negativity. Make a choice to stop the cycle of negativity and give these anxiety relieving activities a try today.

Before we get into it, let’s chat about stress, anxiety, and how to determine when you need help.

Stress, Anxiety, or Both?

Although people often use the words “stress” and “anxiety” interchangeably, there are differences between the two. Stress is typically described as a reaction to something happening in the here and now. Anxiety, on the other hand, is worry about the future.

Let’s break them both down a bit further.

Stress

Believe it or not, stress can result from both positive and negative life changes. The birth of a new baby, starting a different job, and buying a house are all examples of positive life events capable of triggering stress.

Any time you make a life change, the potential for stress exists.

An event that one person considers horrendously overwhelming may have little to no effect on the next person.

The physical and emotional effects of stress are also variable from person to person. You may find it difficult to fall or stay asleep at night. It may suddenly become difficult to concentrate. You may also find that you feel extremely exhausted all the time.

Or maybe you’re so easily irritated that the slightest inconvenience sends you in a rage. Some people react to stress with depression. Still others begin overeating.

Although stress is a normal part of life, when left unchecked, it can wreak havoc on your health and your happiness. It can also morph into anxiety.

You may enjoy reading this post about finding peace despite chaos.

Anxiety

Would it surprise you to learn that approximately 40 million Americans have some form of an anxiety disorder? Anxiety disorders can range from a generalized state of worry about any and everything to specific phobias such as a fear of spiders or of flying.

It is similar to stress in that it affects people to varying degrees. Some people experience only occasional twinges of nervousness about an upcoming interview or work presentation.

Other people, however, obsess about the potential downsides of every little decision. What can start out as stress stemming from a life change turns into a hamster wheel of worst case scenarios. Anxiety dominates every waking thought. Soon it becomes difficult to focus on anything other than fear of the unknown and typically, the unlikely.

Physical symptoms often accompany anxiety and may include chest pain, rapid breathing, or feeling overwhelmingly tired.

Although everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, it becomes problematic when it dominates your thoughts and consistently interferes with your daily life.

Even occasional anxiety can cloud your thinking and put you in a negative mood.

But you can break free! Let’s get into some amazingly effective anxiety relieving activities!

Reframe Your Thinking

In any given situation, you have a choice. You control your thoughts. And there are positives to be found in even the darkest situations.

But once anxiety gains a foothold in your life, your thinking skews to the negative. Seeing catastrophic disaster around every corner can turn into something of a habit. Your brain becomes conditioned to block out any positives and to instead hone in on any little thing which is slightly amiss.

After a while, your entire world turns into one of those cold, dreary, miserable January days. I’m talking January in Wisconsin. For those of you who have never been to Wisconsin, January is the absolute worst! The excitement of the holidays is over and the novelty of snow has worn thin. Temperatures average around 20 degrees but are quite often below zero. Even the sun abandons the state around this time every year. Summer seems so far away that it’s painful to even think about blue skies, warm breezes, or green grass. It’s easier to pretend none of it exists than to acknowledge how long it will be before you can experience the magic of summer again.

See what I did there?

Yes, January is a long, dark month. But there is a positive side to anything in life, even January in Wisconsin. Snow means sledding, snowboarding, and skiing. It means hot beverages after a cold day spent outside.

I can tell you from experience that if you obsess over every little negative, January will crawl by. But if you actively look for joy, it will reveal itself and before you know it, spring is right around the corner!

Start looking for joy in your life and the world will suddenly seem a much brighter, less anxious place.

You may enjoy reading this post about how to achieve a more positive mindset.

Ground Yourself

One side effect of anxiety that I find to be particularly challenging is that my mind races. But it’s not in a helpful way like when I’m constructively thinking through my latest blog post. It’s more like that 3 A.M. can’t get back to sleep because I’m re-living every stupid thing I’ve ever said or done kind of way.

Annoying.

Remember what I said about you having control over your thoughts?

It’s absolutely true.

This anxiety relieving activity stops that hamster in its tracks and gives you an opportunity to regain control.

When our mind is racing, it’s often revolving around things which are either in the past or the future. In other words, imaginary things which we can’t do anything about. Continuing to think about them is pointless! It only serves to fuel anxiety and feed into the sense that we are out of control.

Take back your thoughts by using your senses in this incredibly easy anxiety relieving activity.

The next time your mind is racing, remember that you have 5 senses. Next, use each sense to gather one piece of information.

In this moment, here and now, what is one thing you can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell?

Shifting your focus to something tangible is a powerful tactic to distract you from the imaginary. Take back your power and get back on track!

Avoid the Sugar Trap

This next anxiety relieving activity is all about preventing anxiety before it even starts. And as you may have guessed from the heading, it involves sugar.

I will be the first to admit that I love sugar! There aren’t too many things I can claim as my guilty pleasure but sugar is definitely one of them!

And in today’s world of highly processed foods, you don’t need to look far to find it. Sugar is hiding in everything.

I don’t know about you but when I’m feeling a bit drained from all those racing thoughts, something sweet seems the perfect pick-me-up.

But sugar is a liar. It tricks you into thinking you will feel refreshed and ready to take on anything.

And you may feel that way for a short time. But eventually your body will crash, leaving you feeling worse than ever. Worse than before you ate that gigantic piece of leftover birthday cake. Or that chunk of frosted brownie. Much worse.

Our bodies crave stability and predictability from the food we take in. We function best on nutrients which break down more slowly and cause a more gradual energy spike.

Nutrients such as proteins provide a more effective fuel source for your body. Protein will give you a more sustainable energy and won’t leave you with that “hung-over” feeling.

And if your body is fueled adequately, your mind is more likely to follow suit.

Anxiety Relieving Activities Work Best With Help

Although there are a host of effective anxiety relieving activities out there, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Especially if you feel that anxiety is taking over your life. There are many ways to manage anxiety and some people require professional assistance to do so.

Speaking with your doctor and/or a counselor can be extremely beneficial in helping you manage anxiety. Anxiety can be accompanied by other diagnoses, including depression, so it’s important that you receive the appropriate treatment.

Your primary care provider can determine whether medication on either a long or short-term basis may be the right choice for you. Not everyone who has anxiety requires medication but it can be helpful, especially in the beginning, to get things under control.

The most effective treatment of anxiety involves an emphasis on taking care of yourself, body and soul. If you are lacking in one area, anxiety has the potential to creep back into your life.

And a counselor can help you untangle those negative pathways in your mind which are feeding into anxiety. They can help you set a more positive mindset and challenge the false realities you create for yourself.

This past spring has been like no other. If recent events have left you feeling unsettled and drained, please get help! You’re never alone. And there are people out there who both understand and can relate to what you’re going through.

You may enjoy reading this post about living with intention.

Spend Time in Nature

“Allow nature’s peace to flow into you as sunshine flows into trees.”

John Muir

Of all the anxiety relieving activities on the list, this is my favorite! I am a firm believer in the power of a little sun and fresh air. There’s just something about getting out into nature which feeds the soul.

The beauty and solitude is a reminder that peace exists. There is so much out there which is bigger than we are. A little sun on your face and the wind in your hair is enough to convince you that everything will be ok after all. And suddenly the anxious thoughts once taking over your mind seem insignificant compared with the majesty of nature.

Although Wisconsin winters present a variety of challenges, there are still ample opportunities to enjoy nature. My favorite winter days often follow the biggest snowstorms. Not nice for driving but freshly fallen snow sparkles like thousands of diamonds. Everywhere you look, the world seems shiny new. Paired with a bright blue sky, this view is like nothing else and will take your breath away!

I especially love pairing nature with exercise! It’s the absolute best way to naturally raise your endorphins and banish negativity!

The next time you find yourself reeling from repetitively negative thoughts, strap on your tennis shoes and get outside. Focus on nature all around you and I promise you will be shocked at how quickly the anxiety disappears.

Funniest Anxiety Relieving Activities

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine but did you know it’s actually true? Not for everything, of course, but for certain things it’s unbeatable! Especially when you find someone else to laugh with!

Similar to exercise, laughter releases feel good hormones known as endorphins. It also decreases your body’s stress response leaving you feeling calm and relaxed.

Research has also proven there are long-term benefits of laughter which include a stronger immune system and better overall life satisfaction.

The next time you’re struggling with anxiety that you just can’t shake, take a laugh break! I’ll even give you a recommendation to get you started!

I discovered Charlie Berens about a year ago and I have to say that before him, I wasn’t a big fan of being a Wisconsinite. Between the frigid winters, the quirky eccentricities of small town life, and the state’s obsession with the Packers, it seemed like there was nothing cool about being from Wisconsin. In my opinion, it was the most boring state. Except Iowa, of course. I’ve heard Iowa is even worse on the state cool meter.

Anyway, Charlie has a way of spinning Wisconsin life to make it seem much cooler than it actually is. He takes snippets of daily life in the dairy state and by using humor, oddly makes me feel better about living where I live. Not that I was ever particularly distressed about being from Wisconsin but it’s definitely not as cool as being from New York, California, or Florida.

If you’re unfamiliar with Charlie or small town Wisconsin, here are a few videos to get you up to speed:

1) Confused about what goes in a casserole? Not sure what a hot dish is? This video explains it all.

2) Ever wondered what your husband does while you’re strolling the aisles of Target? Find out here.

3) I’ve never been to an Ikea but after watching this video feel as if I get the gist.

4) Curious about how quarantine in Wisconsin is going? Find out here.

5) Tips and tricks on backyard deep frying.

It’s Your Turn

Anxiety sucks. But there are ways to overcome it and I hope you have come away with inspiration on taming the negativity! Stop letting anxiety hold you back from living your best life. And don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you are struggling.

Don’t forget to drop a comment below with your tips on controlling anxiety! I’d also love to hear about videos you find hilarious or that keep you sane on a bad day!

5 Ways to Find Peace Despite Chaos

5 Ways to Find Peace Despite Chaos

The world is a strange place right now.

Here in Wisconsin, the governor ordered closure of all bars and restaurants earlier this week.

If you know anything about Wisconsin, it’s that our population relies on its dense population of bars and churches to survive.

And churches across the state closed their doors over the weekend.

Last week, nursing homes across the state made the incredibly difficult decision to close their doors to visitors.

The public school system has been shut down.

Sports stadiums everywhere are silent.

Companies are finding ways for their employees to work from home.

These are truly unprecedented times we are living in.

Life as we have come to know it is changing rapidly.

Amidst all the crazy toilet paper buying, doomsday prepping, and constant media coverage, anxiety is at an all-time high.

We have no way of knowing what tomorrow will bring.

The realities of preparing for the coronavirus have impacted most aspects of my own life. It feels like everywhere I turn, there are new reasons to stress.

It all feels very overwhelming.

Getting swept up in the madness is so easy!

But is that really how you want to live your life? At the mercy of whatever crisis the media is currently fixated on?

Or would you rather take charge of anxiety, grounded in peace that you, in fact, can handle whatever life throws at you?

You do have a choice. Either be consumed by anxiety. Or choose peace.

Lately I have been focusing on how to find peace despite the chaos.

And the great news? You can too! Here are 5 ways to get started today.

1. Find peace despite chaos through time spent with loved ones

In the midst of chaos, routines are turned upside down.

Soccer practice? Cancelled.

Your after-hours work event? Cancelled.

Cheerleading? Cancelled.

But do you know what hasn’t been cancelled?

Family dinner.

A walk through the neighborhood.

Game night.

Although we would never have expected our social calendars to suddenly clear, is it really such a bad thing?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like my schedule is filled with obligations rather than meaning.

It can often feel like I say “yes” to things because of what others want me to be or do. I forget to listen to my own voice. And if I don’t prioritize my own time, there’s no one on this earth who will do it for me!

There is also a tendency to take the time spent with friends and family for granted. We can get lulled into thinking they will always be there waiting for us.

It’s far too easy to get caught up in the mundane of the routine and forget to connect with those around us.

If there’s anything the uncertainty of the past couple of weeks has taught me, it’s that the time is now.

We can’t take anything for granted because we have no idea what’s coming tomorrow.

Uncertainty reminds us that being intentional about our time and creating meaningful connections with others are both incredibly important.

The silver lining in all this social distancing is actually a brand new start. The slate is wiped clean. We are free to start all over again with a better understanding of our goals and priorities.

Including, and especially, our loved ones.

You have an amazing opportunity to both reconnect with your loved ones and to find peace despite the chaos!

And thanks to technology, you can both reconnect and maintain social distancing guidelines.

So take a step in the right direction today. Give someone you haven’t spoken with in awhile a call. Reach out and make a connection.

After all, what better conversation starter could there be than a gigantic, nationwide toilet paper shortage? It really couldn’t get any easier than that!

2. Turn off the news

Yes, the news is important. It has a vital role in keeping all of us updated on happenings both local and around the world.

But they also want to keep you coming back for more.

They want you to choose them over every other news channel (or website) out there.

And how do they hook you?

By feeding into your emotions, namely fear.

Remember the principle of fight or flight? Biologically speaking, fear triggers an incredibly strong chemical response within your body.

The fear response is stronger than the response garnered by most other emotions.

The news media keeps you hooked by triggering your fear response. Over and over and over again.

They are making sure you continue to tune in by scaring you.

I am all for being updated on the facts of various occurrences.

But I am not about to be fed sensationalized versions of facts whose only purpose is to scare me into continuing to watch.

And my advice to you? Figure out exactly what it is you need to know and then locate an organization focused on the facts.

For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has the most up-to-date information on travel restrictions and ways to stay healthy.

Local county health departments are tracking the latest statistics on people impacted in your area.

Neither source will give you sensationalized accounts of how everyone in America will eventually succumb to the virus and 50% of those people will die.

They will simply give you facts. Nothing more, nothing less.

Why would you ever need anything more than that?

3. Search for the positive amidst the negative

When everything goes haywire, it’s incredibly easy to focus on what’s going wrong.

Especially when the changes are as surreal as those happening right now.

If you had told me a year ago that a virus would close down the public school system indefinitely, I would never have believed you.

Likewise, I would never have believed that I would shop my local Wal-Mart at 7 a.m. and find the shelves as bare as I’ve ever seen them.

Or that those same Wal-Mart shelves would be completely devoid of toilet paper.

Changes this dramatic are very unsettling.

But focusing on the negative will only get you to a place of deeper anxiety.

As strange as all the recent events have been, it will all eventually fade into our memories.

Restaurants will open back up again.

Kids will complain about playing basketball in gym class (or maybe that was just me!?).

You will once again be able to meet up with your bestie for coffee without regulation that you sit at least 6 feet apart.

Believe it or not, good things are coming out of all this madness.

One example in my own life is my daycare’s decision to close, coincidentally at the same time my in-laws went on vacation out-of-state.

We have never relied too heavily on sitters so our list is incredibly short. Unfortunately, our usual sitter was already committed elsewhere.

My friend put out a Facebook post that her teenage daughter was available to watch kiddos. I decided to reach out and give it a try.

And do you know what happened?

The kids loved her! They had a great time and now our sitter list is just a bit longer.

Although it takes effort, we can choose to look for the positives in an otherwise negative situation.

Be a positive force in an otherwise chaotic world.

You may also enjoy reading this post about how to get yourself into a positive mindset.

4. Find peace despite chaos through rest

I am guilty of completely over-booking myself. Day after day, week after week, month after month.

Between home, work, and my very limited social life, I feel compelled to constantly be doing something.

My house could always use some type of attention, whether it’s laundry, the floors, or the messy bathroom.

And based upon the piles of dirty laundry which appear every week, I swear to you that there are at least 3 extra people living in my house who I’ve never met. Which begs the question … why aren’t they helping with their laundry?

Also, would it kill them to sweep the floor once in awhile?

Work has also been a challenge as within the past year, I have transitioned to the new role of nurse practitioner. And when you take on a new role, there’s always an abundance to learn and improve upon.

Especially during such an unpredented time as this.

I do have to admit that my social life is essentially non-existent at this point and the virus is not entirely to blame. Between work and home, I simply have no extra energy left to devote to its revival.

Although I have never been someone with a wide social circle, the people I do consider friends are very near and dear to me.

And many of them are also in the midst of figuring out their own work/life balance.

But I have always felt that I could do a better job of staying connected with friends despite my very introverted tendencies.

I am constantly lying to myself about the possibility of a break. “I’ll just keep going until xyz and then I will take some time for myself.”

But when xyz happens, I never take the promised break.

And then I wonder why I’m constantly so exhausted.

Sometimes, we just need a break. And maybe this is God’s way of forcing a break on all of us.

Anxiety feeds off fatigue, exhaustion, and overhwelm. Stop anxiety in its tracks by taking a nap, a Netflix break, or by picking up a good book.

Take advantage of this moment to stop “being” and to instead just “be.”

5. Have faith

At a time when even churches have closed their doors, the world may seem a very hopeless place right now.

Although there are changes sweeping the nation and the world, we have to remember that we have never really been in charge anyway.

Whether it’s coronavirus or some other crazy disease threatening the world, we have no idea what tomorrow will bring.

We can only do our very best to do what we can with what we have and leave the rest in God’s hands.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5: 1-2

Anxiety never changes tomorrow’s outcome but it does steal today’s peace.

My challenge to you today is to choose peace. Reject anxiety.

Focus on the good. Make a difference where you can. Help someone else out.

And never lose your faith that all will work out according to God’s plan.

It’s Your Turn

There’s no denying the big changes happening everywhere.

Between all the closings, the constant news media coverage, and the empty store shelves, some would have you believe the world itself is ending.

But it’s really not all bad!

Social distancing is a technique useful for minimizing the impact illnesses such as the coronavirus can have on a population.

It’s a way we can both conserve resources and protect those who are most vulnerable.

Yes, it’s definitely unsettling to drive through an eerily quiet city.

But this too will pass.

And by taking these drastic measures, I pray the impact will be minimal.

I can only imagine that we will also have a much greater appreciation for having the ability to once again gather with friends and family.

Seize this unsettling time to find peace despite chaos.

Choosing peace will help you become a stronger and more resilient person, better equipped to take on the next crisis thrown at you.

After all, doesn’t surviving a toilet paper shortage equip you to overcome basically anything???

I would love to hear your thoughts on this post below! What are you struggling with right now and what has helped you find peace despite chaos?