The past year has been a testing one, and an interesting one for those of us with anxiety. In some ways, the forced time at home has been refreshing, in others it’s been stifling. If you’ve been struggling recently, this is your very own guide on how to manage anxiety naturally. Anxiety can be totally debilitating if we don’t know how to effectively manage it, but this beautiful sensitivity to the world and ourselves can be incredibly freeing and show us different depths of what life has to offer. So, let’s get to grips with some really effective ways to manage anxiety naturally and start enjoying the journey!
Manage anxiety, naturally
It can be hard to think positively and see a way out of the anxious thoughts and feelings when you’re in the pit of anxiety. When things start adding to your pile, and it grows and grows, it can feel incredibly challenging to break it down, can’t it? The small things suddenly feel huge and you’re left gazing into space wondering whether it’ll ever go away. But in this moment you’re here, reading this, choosing to make a change, and that is enough to show you you’re capable of managing anxiety naturally. The self-awareness you possess, the willpower and courage you currently hold is something you ought to feel proud of – it isn’t easy to accept and you deserve a pat on the back for being here.
Remember though, when embarking on a new journey of change we must be patient with ourselves. Managing anxiety naturally works most effectively with a little trial and improvement, an open-mind, the willingness to try out new things and above all, the patience to know good things take time! But let me tell you, it’s totally worth it. I’ve experienced everything in this entire guide over the last few years and I know how frustrating it feels when we don’t see instant change, but when that light-bulb flashes on and you realize something works for you, you’ll be glad you took the small step forwards.
Take your pick and find what’s right for you
Anxiety isn’t a new friend of mine, she’s been walking alongside me for as long as I can remember. At times she’s led the way, but now she takes a backseat and only pipes up on occasion. It took me a long time to realize what it was and I wish I’d have gotten support earlier or tried to manage the anxiety naturally a long time ago, but I made it down the hard road so you don’t have to! Anxiety comes in all shapes and sizes and all different intensities, so the intensity of what you experience is for you to discover and understand. There may be times where medication is recommended to clear the fog, but these powerful tools, when combined with what I mentioned above, can be mightily effective ways to manage anxiety naturally.
Have a read over the guide, select a few to begin with and stick to them for around 21 days – by then you should be able to tell whether it’s effective for you or not. I know that might feel like a long time, and you may find a strategy that works really quickly for you, but it’s the daily practise that shows the results. If it means a clear, calm and happy day in the grand scheme of things, surely it’s all worth it! You’re here willing to make a change, and I believe the sun will shine every day for you when you give yourself the chance. So, pick one or two that stand out to you and show up for yourself every day! From then, you’ll feel the magic take over.
Let’s start off with a biggie, and arguably the most effective tool to manage anxiety naturally. The way we talk to ourselves plays a huge role in how we perceive the world. If we are presented with a test and we tell ourselves we’re capable, we’re knowledgeable and this is only temporary discomfort, we’ll find the process somewhat enjoyable! However if our self-talk is chirping up telling us we’re going to fail, we’ve never been good at tests and this is going to impact our entire future, we’ll hate the experience. We often believe that everything we think is the truth because our small friend anxiety makes us think that way, but really it’s only our perception of the world and not always the reality of the situation – remind yourself that thoughts aren’t facts.
So, in order to manage anxiety naturally, we must be keen to alter our self-talk! It’s totally possible, if at first it feels challenging, and goes a long way in helping every other strategy work even more effectively.
We’ll begin by grounding ourselves – quieten the noisy thoughts by connecting yourself to what is around you. Place your hands either on the floor or whatever is in front of you and notice what it feels like. What textures can you feel and what temperature is it? Now become aware of any aromas around you or any fragrances. Can you taste anything at the moment? What small sounds can you hear close to you, or further away from you? And finally, pick any colour and find all the different items of that colour in your surroundings. Once you’ve gotten mindful to the present moment, you can begin to notice what thoughts and stories keep popping up. Are there certain themes? Do you typically use the same words when talking to yourself or about yourself? Are they positive, empowering, perhaps even neutral? Or are they a little downhearted, degrading and negative? Clearing the mental chatter with this grounding exercise can help you to see patterns in your self-talk so you can begin to alter it and manage anxiety naturally.
Once you have a little practice in this grounding exercise, you can start to distinguish any self-talk patterns! Have a little look at cognitive distortions – they’re thought patterns that warp reality and are common amongst those of us with anxiety. A lot of us assume the worst when we experience a hiccup in our day and come to the conclusion that only the worst can happen – this is called catastrophizing. We might also blame ourselves for other people’s behaviours and moods, this is called personalisation. Neither of these things are based on truth, yet can completely alter how we feel and see our world. Explore the different distortions and make a note of the common ones that seem to occur in your life. When you start to recognise the distortions popping up throughout your day, you can then start to manage anxiety naturally and replace the talk that comes with it.
Here are a few examples of things you may believe:
- “I can’t spell, so I won’t be good at that task”
- “I’m not naturally great at spelling, but the more I practice, the better I get”
- “I’m not very organized, so my house is always a mess”
- “I’d like my house neat and tidy, so I’m going to try new techniques until something works”
- “Something frustrating happened this morning, so today is going to be awful”
- “Ok, that didn’t go as smoothly as normal, but I’ll learn from it and carry on”
Another favourite tool of many to manage anxiety naturally is getting your pen to paper! It’s been proven time and time again to improve your mental health. Not only does it help you to process and identify your self-talk and thought patterns, but it also improves mood, memory, self-awareness and can even boost productivity and creativity. Choose a time each day that works for you, select a beautiful journal that inspires you to connect and get writing. You may just want to bullet point a few key points of your day – goals, moods, thoughts, or you may want to write for 10 minutes straight simply allowing your thoughts to flow. When done regularly, even a few times a week, it becomes an incredibly effective tool to manage anxiety naturally. If you’d like more support and ideas when it comes to journaling, check this 5-minute read right here.
Whether you’ve tried it once, many times or it’s a completely new thing to you, meditation is where it’s at when it comes to managing anxiety naturally. It can feel frustrating sitting down and focusing on your breath I know, but there are so many other types of meditation that can work for you. If you feel restless and breathless when you focus in meditation, perhaps try a moving meditation! If you hate the idea of completely focusing on your breath, try a guided visualisation (my favourite). If you don’t enjoy silence so much, try a mantra or chanting meditation!
There are lots of different ways to meditate, a few of which you can find right here on this website. Give each of them a go until you find something that clicks, and if you get bored of that after a while, try something new! I’ve been through every app (pretty much), every type and every duration of meditation and right now I’m loving a 5-minute mindful meditation or sound bath.
Just like journaling, try and factor it into your day – building the habit is what makes this tool so powerful. Combine it with self-talk awareness and CBD oil and you’re creating a beautiful trio to help you through. Find out how to meditate more in-depth right here! P.S. remember to reward yourself when you reach your weekly goal – it’ll help cement the habit.
If you have an anxious mind, I know how challenging sleep can be at times. Your brain just won’t turn off and you’re left going over and over the same thing and you just can’t relax. But, there are certain things you can do to improve your sleep hygiene and improve your levels of anxiety. Journaling can be very effective before you go to bed because you’re allowing a brain dump
before your thoughts get mixed up with your emotions, and you’re giving yourself the ability to see your problems without judgement. Make sure you also allow your eyes and brain to relax before bed and put your phone to sleep at least 30 minutes before you head to bed. As well, get yourself into a beautiful slumber routine – experiment with a bath or shower before bed, stretch, read, listen to calming music or try meditation. Feel free to explore these seven ways to improve your sleep if you’d like more ideas.
Take over the wheel and let anxiety take a back-seat
Whether you feel a little anxious on occasion or it’s a daily battle, these strategies to manage anxiety naturally could be your saviour. You are one moment away from discovering what a calm day feels like and what a confident, empowered and brave you feels like. And whilst these absolutely are not the only strategies out there to help you on your journey, they’re a mightily effective place to start. Decide now on what you’d like to experiment with, pop it in your calendar and commit to having a play – even if you only try it for a few days, you’re further ahead than you were before. You’ve already decided you’re worthy of managing this anxiety by being here, reading this, so go on! Try something new, or try something again this time a little differently, and allow yourself to feel good – you have it in you.
Helen Sian India is a yoga and mindfulness teacher and writer. Check out her other blogs and online yoga lessons here.