Five ways to reduce anxiety in your everyday life

Everyone gets days where things start to pile up on top of them. Maybe getting out of bed starts to become a chore, or you dread Monday morning or can’t enjoy your weekends. However the anxiety manifests itself, you can never quite relax. Everything seems overwhelming and unmanageable.

Anxiety doesn’t come from nowhere. Even if you’re a naturally anxious person or have an anxiety disorder, often it’s your physical circumstances that make it worse. So how do you make small changes in your everyday life to reduce your anxiety levels and make everything easier on yourself?

A disclaimer, I’m not a counsellor or any kind of therapist, just someone who’s learned a lot of coping mechanisms for anxiety over the years! If you think you’re suffering from serious anxiety issues, visit your GP or visit the Mind website for a list of contacts that can help you.

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Sometimes you just need to feel like the power is back in your hands

Don’t overcommit

You don’t have to accept every dinner invitation that comes your way. You also don’t have to rush to everyone’s aid the minute they ask or take on excessive extra work. Learning to say no to non-essential commitments, even in the short term, can take a huge weight off your shoulders. Try having a month where you have no commitments outside of your regular, necessary activities and spend the rest of your time relaxing.

Ditch the guilt

A lot of people feel inexplicably guilty whenever they have time off. We know that time is precious and so feel that spending it doing nothing is a waste. This couldn’t be further from the truth – sometimes a lazy day isn’t just a nice thing to do, it’s desperately needed to recuperate. Give yourself permission to let go of the guilt entirely and just enjoy whatever you’re doing. If you really can’t do that, give yourself a list of a few essential things you’d like to do and then, when you’ve finished them, allow yourself to relax as a reward.

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Don’t call on people who make you feel worse

Ditch bad friends

Start keeping a diary of your feelings after you speak to your friends. You may not even be aware that some of your friendships are making you anxious. Just listen to your gut after you’ve hung up the phone or shut the door after spending time with someone. Do you feel happier and more positive having spent time with them? Or do you feel drained, anxious, irritated etc.? If it’s the latter, start regularly looking at your relationship with that friend. Is it a one-off or occasional bad feeling or do you never feel good when you spend time with them? It may be time to pull back from certain friendships that add to your worries.

Find some ‘you’ time

Take the time you would have spent on unnecessary commitments and find things you love to do. It could be as simple as having a bath or taking a walk, or a new hobby or skill you’ve always wanted to learn.

Make a list

Make a list of all the things you feel anxious about. Often anxiety feels like a general mess of rubbish and you can’t quite pinpoint what you’re actually anxious about. If you can pinpoint your feelings then it’s easier to rationalise away a lot of the things that are worrying you. You can’t do that if you don’t know what you’re feeling in the first place.

Like I said, everyone gets a little overwhelmed sometimes and these are great coping mechanisms for people who experience ordinary anxiety after a build up of everyday stress. If you’ve had a big trauma or suffer from day-to-day anxiety that really doesn’t go away, there really is help available for you. Visit your GP or call Mind on 0300 123 3393.

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