• Sunday Sanctuary

Get Ahead of Anxiety

Anxiety is a feeling that a lot of us struggle to shake, and for some it can feel like anxiety is the baseline state of mind, rather than an unwelcome visitor that can be booted out the door. It takes time, but turning certain behaviours into habits can banish this toxic thought pattern, or at the very least give us power over it, so that we spend less time worrying and more time focusing on our best self.



Anxiety is the thing we feel when our minds wander away from the present. It's magnifying a situation that hasn't happened, or thinking about things we can't know from the past (such as people's opinions) and dwelling on it until it consumes us. It's one of the things that sets us apart from other species; our ability for our minds to wander across time whilst our bodies stay rooted in the now. But as Daniel Gilbert once said, a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. So how do we combat it?


Exercise

Exercise is pretty much a cure all, but the science behind why it's important to get moving when it comes to our mental wellbeing is enough to motivate us even when 2 minutes of running feels like 2 hours. Shifting the stress from our brains onto our bodies reduces levels of stress hormones in our system (the pain of being out of breath > the pain of heartbreak), improves our sleep (and a good night's sleep is a great way to take care of your mental wellbeing and have an excuse not to go on a night out), and increases our overall confidence.


Reduce Caffeine Intake

We're sorry, we know for many of you this is the last thing you want to read, but high quantities of caffeine can increase stress and anxiety; as a natural stimulant, getting that 'wired' feeling can sometimes be more detrimental than we think. We all react differently to caffeine, and some of us just can't handle large doses very well, so it might be worth listening to your body if your fourth coffee of the day ends in a spiral of overthinking.


Laughter

A chuckle a day keeps the doctor away by reducing your stress response whilst relieving tension in your muscles. It's a double whammy of stress-relief, and studies have found that laughter proves more beneficial to our levels of anxiety than finding a distraction from them. Why not find a comedy podcast, download a stand up to watch on the way home, or compile a list of your own hilarious jokes to read?


Learn to Say Nope

Why is it so hard to say no? There are so many things we agree to do with a feeling of dread as soon as we say yes, it seems nonsensical to continue to put ourselves through torture for the backwards purpose of people-pleasing. Often we end up taking on way more than we can handle, and learning how to say no to some things is just as important as saying yes to others. Once you get into the habit of putting your health and wellbeing first it'll become easier to say no each time.


Mindfulness

Wellness techniques including yoga and other mindful practices such as meditation are excellent ways to stop your mind wandering away from the present. By channeling your focus into the moment you can avoid a loud and wandering mind, nurturing a calmer approach to stress that anchors us to the present and reminds us everything is, and will be, okay.


Forest Bathing

We all feel good after a walk in the park, some fresh air, and lots of greenery. Whilst being surrounded by nature is a multi-layered pleasure, from the sound of birdsong to the sight of fabulous flora, there is a science as to why forests make us feel so good too (this one's for the nerds). Trees release phytonicides – natural oils that help to protect the tree against bacteria and insects, and being exposed to these natural chemicals reduces our stress levels and lowers our blood pressure. Hooray for trees!


Puppy Therapy

The heading speaks for itself, but if you need us to spell it out for you; animals are the best. Puppy therapy doesn't need to be limited to puppies, kitten therapy works just as well, and knowing that a snuggly furry buddy (or a scaly slithery one) is waiting for you at home after a long day is enough to put a smile on anyone's face. If you don't have time or space for a pet, then a dog-friendly office can be the next best thing, and at the weekend google a nearby petting zoo to get a bit of that good animal lovin'.


Further Reading

Daniel Gilbert - Wandering Mind

Exercise and Stress

How to get a Good Night's Sleep

Caffeine and Anxiety

Laughter and Stress

Yoga and Stress

Mindfulness and Anxiety

Forest Bathing and Anxiety

Pets and Happy Hormones