Life is often times filled with worries about the past, present, and especially the future. Our grades slip. We have too much on our plates. Our plans and expectations have gone awry. When this happens, our mental and emotional health starts to waver, then our physical health is sacrificed along with it. Our heartbeat races and we worry ourselves into oblivion every waking moment of the day. Life feels like it’s spiraling out of control and there’s nothing we can do about it. After we take a second to slow down and realize our blessings and opportunities despite the stressors in our lives, we can realize this anxiety is a passing feeling.
Here’s a few ways to keep that feeling away.
1. Positive words
In a study done by Dr. Andrew Newberg, a neurologist at Thomas Jefferson University, he finds that positive words dramatically affect a response from the brain. Newberg says “A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress." He explains that using words like “love” “piece” “kindness” or writing down three things that went well during the day all modify our brain functions and increase positivity and overall happiness. The same thing goes with negativity. So set a positive quote as your screensaver, write down positive thoughts, and be cognizant of speaking positively and your worries will decrease.
2. Writing things down
Not only should you be writing down your positive thoughts, write down everything. “The act of writing helps to decreases cognitive arousal and worry,” says Dr. Michael Scullen, Director of Baylor’s sleep neuroscience and contrition laboratory. He started researching patients with anxiety disorders and found that when patients wrote everything down to “get their worries off their chest” it helped dramatically to reduce stress, anxiety, and helped them fall asleep easier. Not only does it help reduce stress, but it’s proven that writing things down will help you perform better. A to-do list will help to put those worries onto a page and your brain will help you to naturally complete what is most important without you having to overthink. Anxiety is caused by tasks that we haven’t done distracting us, and writing them down can free us from this anxiety.
3. Listening to music
Listening to music can have a tremendously relaxing effect on our mind and bodies. Slow soothing music is linked to effective stress management by slowing the heart-rate, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing stress. Music can absorb our attention and is a good distraction, preventing your mind from wondering about the troubles of the day. There’s a tendency to avoid or forget to listen to music in times of high stress and many believe its a waste of time. People are anxious and caught up in their troubles but it is proven that the reduction of stress increases productivity. So maybe taking some time to listen to some stress relieving music would be beneficial after all.
4. Don’t Procrastinate: Keep a Busy Schedule
The busier you are, the more likely you are to complete tasks. Even though this sounds daunting when your anxiety is flaring up, your anxiety can be prevented in the first place if you are pro-active. Procrastinating, not completing necessary tasks, and missing deadlines will only increase your stress. Waiting until the last minute to complete what you need to do will give you poor results and leave you disappointed. Even though a few mental health days and late assignments won’t hurt you, staying busy and focused, while staying positive, will help you complete goals and feel less worried. Completing tasks well ahead of time and putting your best effort forward is much easier when you’re on track. People with a busy schedule are able to gain momentum, getting more things done. This could help to solve the problem before the problem starts.
5. Put Effort into the Things You Can Change and Try Not to Worry About the Rest
Even though stress is difficult due to its overwhelming nature, just relaxing and doing your best is always the right answer. Don’t be discouraged, but motivated by your ability to achieve anything you want. Even though life may not seem like it’s going in the right direction, there are better things in store. Things can be fixed, changed, redone, and healed. There always comes a point where you’ve done what you can do and the rest is out of your control. And all you can do then is move forward and accept that everything will be ok. Once you are past it, think of all the opportunities you can have in the future. They are limitless.