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10 Simple Ways to Ease Your Anxiety Today

Peaceful Woman

“Smile, breathe, and go slowly.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

As an almost recovered anxiety sufferer I know what it’s like to feel stressed, out of sorts, desperate, and unlike yourself. I know what panic attacks feel like; I’ve had many. I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy.

Anxiety can be debilitating and affect every area of your day-to-day life.

I remember about four years ago, when I was feeling so overwhelmed and anxious I could barely leave my house. I had three young children at the time. It was all I could do to get through each day.

Just making meals for my little family felt like more than I could handle.

I remember at lunchtime I was putting together peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for probably the seventh day in a row and I stood there thinking, what on earth is wrong with me? This is not the Hannah that I know! I’m not this person. How did I get here!?

I slinked down to the floor and broke into tears, as I was filled with guilt about how I wasn’t being the wife and mother I should be. The light was streaming in the window, shining onto our tile floor, filled with crumbs and ants. I couldn’t remember the last time I had swept.

As the days, months, and years passed by I have learned many lessons, and I continue to learn lessons on a daily basis. I’m human. I still have anxious days but I now realize that they will pass.  

I accept them.

They don’t quite sting as bad as they used to.

You have to keep going. You have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and know that it won’t be like this forever. Remember that about one in five people feel the same way you do.

Thankfully, I have gone through this, because it has pushed me to learn about so many facets of health that I never would have been interested in otherwise. I’m stronger in the long run. You will be too.

I’ve learned that we need to make self-care a priority. Sometimes it can feel really uncomfortable to take time for us. To say no to others and put ourselves first, but we must.

If we are to be able to give to others, we need to have something to give, whether that is time, love, or patience.

Our society is so fast paced, hurried, and often stressful. We need to make every effort possible to slow down, take time to relax, and rejuvenate. We don’t naturally build these moments into our day enough, and if you don’t currently, now is the time to start.

I would love to share ten simple ways you can ease your anxiety today. These are a few of the strategies that I personally practice daily.  

1. Cut sugar from your diet.

Sugar can wreak havoc on your health. It adds to the overall burden of stress to your body. Anyone who struggles with anxiety doesn’t need to be adding any extra stress. Sugar is also void of nutrients; during stress, your body needs whole, unprocessed food full of vitamins and minerals.

2. Use lavender oil.

Lavender oil has been used for centuries and it’s the most versatile essential oil. With a pleasing aroma and calming properties, it has a relaxing scent that calms the mind and body.

Use lavender safely on your skin, rub on wrists, behind ears, a dot on your neck, and enjoy its scent. You can use a few drops in the bathtub or in the shower. At night I love to add a few drops to an Epsom salt footbath.

3. Get to bed by 10:30.

When you have anxiety, your stress levels are high and your nerves are frazzled. Lack of sleep just adds to the problem. Going to bed by 10:30 will give your body ample time to rest and repair itself and help calm your nervous system.

By getting enough sleep you reduce cortisol levels and the overall burden placed on your body. Sometimes sleep alone can be the biggest help when it comes to healing anxiety.

4. Practice yoga.

As I’ve practiced yoga I’ve noticed a reduction in anxiety symptoms. Now I can’t live without it!

Through yoga, you learn how to breathe deeply and effectively, which is great for stress reduction. You move your body gently and get some exercise without overexerting your body and stressing it out more.

Yoga has also been the perfect beginning step to learn how to meditate. Through yoga, you learn to be still, move more slowly and intentionally throughout your day, and you learn to recognize where tension is in your body so you can work to relax those parts.

5. Go for a walk/jog.

Getting outside and taking a walk can work wonders for our moods by boosting serotonin, the good mood neurotransmitter. It also allows you to soak up some vitamin D, clear your brain, and get a fresh new perspective on life.

If your body is up to it, you can go for a quick jog or run. Those who have dealt with long-term anxiety may notice that their body isn’t quite up to jogging or running yet.

If you feel more depleted, frazzled, and stressed after you jog, especially if that feeling lasts for a couple days, be kind to yourself and don’t push yourself to that point yet. Take a step back and just allow yourself to move gently. Yoga, Pilates, and walking are all great alternatives.

6. Journal.

Writing in a journal can be very therapeutic. Just like venting to a good friend or a therapist, you can vent right onto the pages of your journal. But don’t forget to write down the positive too.

Jot down a few things each day that you’re grateful for. Write about good things that happen. Write down things you want to see in your life that may not be there yet, but write them as if they’ve happened. Don’t worry that it isn’t technically true; it just isn’t true yet, but it can be!

7. Keep track of your thoughts.

We don’t always realize how much our thoughts affect the way we feel and how often we even think these negative damaging thoughts. For one day write down every negative thought you have, then flip them and write down the positive version.

If you think, “I’m so tired, I never get enough sleep,” switch the thought and think, “I may be tired, but I won’t always feel this way, and I can get a good night’s sleep tonight.” This exercise can be very enlightening.

8. Eat fermented foods.

Research shows that the microbes in our guts communicate with our brains, and vice versa. Most of our digestive systems have been depleted of beneficial bacteria through repeated use of antibiotics, a poor diet of processed foods, environmental toxins, and stress.

By eating fermented foods that are high in probiotic bacteria like kefir, fermented veggies, and kombucha, we are adding good bacteria back into our guts and improving our physical and mental health in the process. A recent article published talks about how sauerkraut can even help people with social anxiety. Very cool!

9. Eat protein at every meal.

People who struggle with anxiety can benefit from the blood sugar stabilizing effects of protein at each meal. According to some doctors we should be getting fifty to seventy-five grams of protein a day.

Protein helps fill you up so you don’t have crazy blood sugar spikes throughout the day that can trigger anxiety and panic attacks. Start your day with protein (kefir, cottage cheese, eggs, full fat plain Greek yogurt topped with nuts and fruit) and continue the habit at each meal and snack.

10. Read positive books.

When you feel like you just can’t muster a positive attitude on your own, lean on someone else’s positive vibes. Books like, You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, and Mind Over Medicine by Lissa Rankin are among my favorites.

Journal your favorite phrases from these books so you can look back at them daily. Never underestimate the power of a positive book.

I hope these simple suggestions can help you in your recovery process from anxiety. Try them all and see which ones work best for you, and implement them daily.

Peaceful woman image via Shutterstock

About Hannah Hepworth

Hannah Hepworth is a wife and mother dedicated to teaching others how to eat whole foods, cut out sugar, make delicious fermented foods from home, and most importantly help women manage their anxiety naturally. Read more on her blog, connect with her on Facebook, and download her free guide “25 Ways To Ease Your Anxiety Today.”

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  • Bullyinglte

    Awesome article, Hannah. You are right on every account and I have put all these into practice to help ease and get rid of my own anxiety issues I had. The only one point I would make is on the journaling. I started by doing venting and anxiety level journaling and found that it only caused me to think about my anxious thoughts. Through therapy, I was told to do gratitude journaling, so that you write three things you are thankful for. By doing this, you focus on each day as having some positives. It can be as easy as “thank you for letting me breath today” to more complex. What I found is that, by writing the positives and not writing the negatives, I convinced my mind that there was good in each day. I cut out writing the negatives, because those would only remind me of the negative things. I write before going to bed and then read them when I wake up to remind myself that there is good in each day. So, at least for me, I don’t promote negative journaling as it just kept it in the forefront of my anxious mind and when I switched, I was much happier.

  • I think that’s a great point! I agree with focusing on the positive! For some it may help to “get it out” but I don’t recommend re-reading it!! I’d even say if you write anything negative down ball it up and toss it in the trash and “let it all go.” Then put back in the positive, you’ve wisely talked about by jotting down a few happy things. Thank you for your tips and thank you for reading! Have a wonderful day. ~Hannah

  • Matt

    Thanks for the post Hannah! Eating right is a big key to mental and emotional health. We really are what we eat! If we eat like crap we’re going to feel that way. Being an anxiety/depression and panic attack sufferer myself I’ve seen many others who also suffer and don’t realize it until they’ve worked themselves into a dark black hole like I did.

    Eating right, thinking right and letting go through Meditation/Visualizations are the keys to letting go of inappropriate anxiety/depression. A lot of people who suffer from anxiety/panic also suffer from depression since they’re two sides of the same coin. You use the very same methods to overcome them.

    Besides a good diet, understanding anxiety and how it works is very important to letting go of inappropriate anxiety/panic. I wasn’t one for taking medication so I focused on understanding my mental and emotional health. As Claire Weekes says in her book Hope and Help for Your Nerves overcoming inappropriate anxiety is 95% understanding and 5% application. This is THE book to read by the way. I’ve ready many on this subject and every other book takes the work Claire Weekes did and just adds or enhances it.

    I’d also recommend You can feel good again by Richard Carlson. A great book on understanding thought patterns and how they relate to your mental and emotional health. Also… You are not your brain – the 4 Step solution… Excellent 4 Step solution you can use to not only ‘deal’ with anxiety/depression but also any aspect in life. To overcome anxiety you really need to understand how the brain functions and creates your mental and emotional health.

    Then if you’re a control freak like I was and can’t understand how to accept and surrender – Letting Go: the pathway of surrender by David Hawkins. This book will change your life in more ways than one.

    Meditation is one of the best ways to over come inappropriate anxiety/depression and any other ailment you may have. It’s the be all end all. Learning to sit in awareness and observe your thoughts or sit in mediation and focus on just one thing retrains your brain to focus and be still. It also teaches you how to let go of the negative thinking patterns and junk that’s been building up in your brain over the years. There are so many things you’ll learn in mediation about the mind as well as about yourself.

    Anxiety and depression are huge roadblocks in the American culture, so many of us suffer needlessly all because we’re not taught as kids how to lead mentally and emotionally healthy lives. We learn how to work and how to behave but then we grow up and run into serious problems because we dont know how to handle our thinking and emotions. Why this isnt taught in schools here in America like other countries I’ll never understand.

    Thanks again Hannah for the great post and sorry for running on at the mouth, I thought I was kind of on a roll! Haha.. Take care! – Matt

  • You offer tons of great advice Matt, thank you! I LOVE the book From Panic To Power, I highly recommend it for those suffering with anxiety. Any book that is uplifting and hopeful really can help a person BELIEVE they can improve and become whole again. When you’re in the thick of it, you really need that peace. I added the 2 other books to my Amazon wish list, they sound great! It is amazing how many people just in the U.S. struggle with anxiety. The more I talk about it on social media and my website the more women I have coming to me privately thanking me for talking about it, it’s amazing people you never knew that had anxiety. It’s helpful for others to know that they are not weird. They are NOT alone. Nutrition is HUGE! I can’t emphasize enough nutrition and sleep. Everyone kind of needs to find their own “recipe” for managing their anxiety. Thankfully we have so many resources and of course our mind is our greatest tool. If you want to learn about Nutrition as it relates to anxiety I’d high recommend “The Mood Cure” by Julia Ross and “The Ultramind Solution” by Dr. Mark Hyman. Both really open your eyes to how much food plays a role in mental health. Thanks again Matt for your words of wisdom! ~Hannah

  • Bullyinglte

    Thanks for the extra thought, Hannah. You have a great idea in if you do write your negative thoughts, destroy them. It can be fun. Burn them and watch as they leave. I do fully agree with you on that idea. After a while, there won’t be much to burn or destroy. Thanks.

  • Wonderful posts and tips on how to deal with anxiety. I have also been experimenting with breathing techniques to help get through panic moments. Thanks for sharing.

  • dindu

    This is gay and didn’t help at all

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  • You’re welcome Madeline! How are the breathing techniques working for you? I hope they’re helping!

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  • Jim

    Those are wonderful tips Hannah. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and OCD issues for over 40 years and agree with you about the release of serotonin. I have found that the 2 most effective ways to release serotonin are moderate to intense aerobic exercise and plenty of morning sunlight. Fortunately, I love to run and bike ride and do one or the other 6 days a week. This keeps my serotonin levels high and my general anxiety level low. The one other thing I would add is that people with anxiety disorders should cut out as much caffeine as possible. 50 milligrams or less per day is what I shoot for.

  • I recommend that you also meditate on your anxiety. Our habit is to avoid and resist painful emotions but this only make them stronger.
    During mindfulness meditation we learn to become compassionate observers of our emotions, treating them with the care and attention you might give to a child in pain. Just like a child, your emotions need YOU, your conscious and compassionate presence, in order to heal.

    I teach my students to meditate on their emotion in a very deliberate way. This will always
    lead to a better outcome than avoidance or suppression of painful emotions.

    Peter Strong

    Boulder Center for Online Mindfulness Therapy and author of ‘The Path of Mindfulness Meditation.’