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  • Writer's pictureCristina Macena

10 Ways to Calm Anxiety

Updated: May 20, 2020

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the United States. That’s 40 million adults—18% of the population—who struggle with anxiety.

Feeling anxious is part of our lives, but sometimes due to extreme circumstances around us, anxiety can be significantly accentuated affecting our quality of life and well-being. Today, I will be sharing with you ten ways that you can use to calm your heart and mind in these troubled times of Covid-19 and quarantine. Check them out:

1. Time-out: Whenever you feel your anxiety escalating, and your thoughts start spinning around your mind, stop everything you are doing and take a time-out. It doesn't matter if you go for a walk at the park, or go to the kitchen to make some tea. The point here is taking your mind from what is causing you anxiety and directing it to something else.

2. Time Management: Working from home, homeschooling the kids, cooking a hundred meals a day, while an unknown disease devastates the world outside bring chaos to our once structured lives. Organizing your time and having some structure to the day can bring a sense of reason for something that is entirely out of our control will help calm our minds and hearts.

3. Physical Activities: Exercise reduces levels of the body's stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are the body's natural painkillers, and mood elevators. So leave the sofa for 30 minutes every day, and go for a walk, or find a class online, or do a pilates class, or ride your bike around the neighborhood. The type of exercise you choose is not as crucial as actually moving E-V-E-R-Y day! Find a way to move, add it to your daily schedule, and stick to it.

4. Natural Herbs: What Chamomile, Kava-kava, St. Johns Wort, Lavander, Lemon Balm, and Passion Flower have in common? They are all herbs that calm your nerves down and diminish anxiety. Take them as diet supplements or enjoy sipping a delicious and comforting cup of tea.

5. Well-balanced meals: Anxiety is thought to be correlated with a lower total antioxidants state. Therefore, enhancing your diet with foods rich in antioxidants may help ease the symptoms of anxiety. Including lots of greens and leaves, beans, berries, vegetables, and nuts to your diet can help release the burden of worry. If eating lots of vegetables and fruits is not something you are used to, try adding new things to every meal or make smoothies and juices!

6. Deep breaths: Take a deep breath in. Now let it out. You may notice a difference in how you feel already. Your breath is a powerful tool to make you feel less anxious. Some simple breathing exercises can make a big difference if you make them part of your routine.

7. Nature Walks: Nothing is more calming than walking in nature. Spending time in nature can help relieve stress and anxiety, improve your mood, and boost feelings of happiness and wellbeing. So get out! Literally.

8. Sleep: Anxiety can cause serious sleep issues, and sleep issues can cause severe anxiety. Unfortunately, the two can intertwine quite a bit, creating one to exacerbate the other. The bottom line is getting a good night’s rest is essential to be able to function at 100 percent the next day. Keep a sleep log, get up at the same time every day, and go to sleep every night at the same time. Keep your room cool and dark, have a room makeover, sip a cup of chamomile tea, or take a warm bath before going to bed are some techniques that might work. Sweet dreams!

9. Self-Care: Why do we think that taking care of ourselves is nothing but selfishness? If you feel guilty every time you put yourself first, it is time to change your mind! Taking care of oneself is a necessity. You can't help somebody else if you are not okay. Take time to read a book, take a bath, drink a cup of tea, eat that dark chocolate, or take a nap under the sun. You need it, and yes, you can have it!

10. Spirituality: Nothing is better than knowing that God is in control of things that are out of our control. On your most dark days, say a prayer to God. He listens. If you are not sure of what to say, try journaling. Writing your thoughts and prayers in a journal is a fantastic way to express your feelings, feel closer to God, and to develop your spirituality. After all, we are all human beings who desperately need that calming voice amidst the storm: "Be still. I'm here with you."

Cristina Macena, is a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, and the Urban Life Center Manager.

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