Posted by: Suzan | July 14, 2017

Slow Down to Calm Your Anxious Thoughts and Find Peace

Calm Your Anxious Mind

Do you find yourself taking in what’s going on around you inside like a sponge? Is it affecting the quality of your everyday life?

A recent poll shows that in the U.S. the average percentage we worry on any given day has increased 4.1 percentage points to 33.3% since early November. And yes, politics may have something to do with it. Nonetheless it’s imperative that we take responsibility for our self-care and try not to give our power away. Otherwise our health and wellbeing suffer.

If you continue to worry about the future you can derail your present. Mark Waldman and Andrew Newberg, M.D., Neuroscientists, suggest these preoccupations become anxious thoughts which can stifle your motivation, decisions, ability to move forward, and optimal performance.

Waldman and Newberg recommend that we find more ways to relax throughout the day, such as:

  • Mindfully yawn five or six times.
  • Meditate (even if 1 minute at a time) – anything to slow yourself down.
  • Breathe deeply while meditating or as a general practice throughout the day (maybe set your phone alarm to go off on the hour). More oxygen helps restore us and allows us to stay more present (hint: anxiety lives in the past and the future – not the present moment).

Waldman and Newberg also cite research from the University of Leeds in West Yorkshire, England about the powers of self-touch and massage to enhance wellbeing. They mentioned this also can help someone with food issues (e.g. overeating) to redirect the need for “comfort” to the stress in the body.

  • Try self-massage (e.g. with rollers, or two tennis balls in a sock, or kneading with fingers or fists into the tight spots for those taut shoulders or aching back).
  • You can also work on your hands, feet, scalp, or face – these are powerful areas to release tension from. Self-nurturance through touch decreases negative feelings and thoughts. <side note from me: If you’re able, schedule a massage (whichever style works best for you). Places like Massage Envy are helpful because they encourage people to book at least once a month, at a discounted rate.>
  • Give yourself a long hug. Yes, I’m serious. This is an easy way to show yourself more compassion. This can relax you.

Here’s a few other self-soothing ideas to calm your anxious thoughts and find peace:

  • Take yourself through a guided mindfulness meditation by going through every body part to relax it. You can do in a few minutes – even at your desk at work. This is also helpful at bedtime if you’re having difficulty falling asleep. At minimum focus on the parts which are speaking louder (as in the ones with some pain or discomfort).
  • Create some art! You can play with paint, or pens, or colored pencils, or crayons (whatever you wish) – and it’s not about having anything in mind. Just play and see what happens. The very act of making art is healing. Studies show that participating in some form of artistic endeavor for at least 45 minutes significantly reduces Cortisol in the body (e.g. inflammation). This can improve your health and certainly quiet your anxious thoughts.
  • Go for a “walking meditation.” You can do this barefoot in the yard, or throughout your home is fine too, your office at work (if you have a private space), a nearby park (whatever suits you). A sandy beach would be ideal! Even 10 minutes can calm you. Take slow steps reminding yourself you have “nowhere to go, nothing to do.” You can choose a word or phrase to focus on and keep returning to it to focus your attention (e.g. I am calm. Or I am at peace. Whatever works for you).

Step by step you can calm your anxious thoughts. The answer to life is not in revving up, it is in slowing down.


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