Did you know that over 40 million adults in the United States have anxiety disorders? That’s about 18% of the population and those numbers are growing every year.
The best life hacks are the ones that help you improve your quality of life.
So if you or someone you love deals with anxiety, read on for 9 ways to help you not only manage but have a happier life.
#1 One of the Best Life Hacks: Meditate
I know what you’re thinking!
But meditation doesn’t have to involve sitting cross-legged in a zen garden. If you have access to a zen garden then go for it, but for the rest of us, there are several more convenient and realistic ways to make meditation a part of our daily routine.
When anxiety attacks strike it’s because our sympathetic nervous system (the one that controls the fight or flight urge) is overreacting. Meditation can help that system to disengage.
Guided meditation (listening to an app or watching a video) is a great way to relax during an anxiety attack and overall one of the best life hacks for reducing general stress levels.
#2 Go for a Walk
Exercising, in general, is a phenomenal way to combat anxiety and lower stress levels. But it’s not realistic to assume that every time something triggers an attack you’ll be able to drop everything your doing and go to the gym.
Going for a short walk is much more doable. If it can be done outside that’s best, but if you’re at work or weather isn’t permitting just get up and take a few laps around the office.
Going for a walk not only improves endorphin production but increases mindfulness.
Walking outside gives you an opportunity to engage all of your senses. As you become more aware of your senses and surroundings you enable yourself to self-calm.
More on that in #6.
#3 Take a Break From Screens
There are a few reasons why taking a break from screens is considered one of the best life hacks.
Most screens (phone, computer, tv, etc.) emit blue-light which has been shown to decrease the production of melatonin (the hormone that aids in sleep). Poor sleep patterns have long been shown to cause and aggravate anxiety.
So taking a break from screens, especially in the evenings, can help decrease the risk of anxiety due to lack of sleep.
Another thing to remember is that screens provide constant access to news which, to be quite frank, is often negative and discouraging enough to give anyone feelings of anxiety and panic.
Staying informed is important so consider imposing a screen-time-out for yourself at a consistent time and place each day. That way you can still know what’s going on but also allow your mind to disconnect from the chaos in the world.
#4 Keep a Gratitude Journal
Whether you choose to journal daily or as a coping mechanism when you notice an anxiety attack coming on, keeping a gratitude journal is a simple and easy way to harness your attention and focus it on the good around you.
#5 Make Time for a Hobby
Maybe you already have a hobby that you enjoy and have access to.
If you need to find a hobby try this:
- Check out your local community or recreation centers to see if any classes are being taught.
- Pick up some yarn and knitting needles at a craft store and then watch some youtube tutorials on how to knit a scarf or hat.
- Join a specialty exercise class like Zumba or Yoga (and get that work out time in).
Whatever you choose, the important thing is to give your mind and body a break from the everyday responsibilities (like work or your kids *gasp*) that can increase stress.
#6 Practice Self-Awareness
Simply put, practicing self-awareness is identifying or checking in with all of your senses and your current surroundings.
Anxiety often manifests as feelings of overwhelming pressure, fear, or sadness. Those feelings can even manifest in physical symptoms.
Self-awareness helps your mind and body recognize that you are okay, that you are safe, and that nothing is harming you.
An easy way to do this is by making a mental list of your senses:
- List 5 things I can see.
- List 4 things I can here.
- List 3 things I can feel.
- List 2 things I can touch.
- List 1 thing I can taste.
The act of creating a detailed list can re-focus the energy that is fueling the anxiety attack.
#7 Use a Fidget Toy
Yup, we said it. But before you laugh off the fidget spinner let’s think about what they do.
Fidgeting is a body’s common expression of anxiety and stress. It’s what makes us bite our nails when we’re nervous. While nail-biting is relatively harmless, more extreme scenarios can involve instances of or tendencies for self-harm.
Having a fidget toy provides a healthy and non-harmful outlet for that nervous energy.
#8 Surround Yourself With People Who Inspire and Make You Happy
Look for friends and opportunities to meet people who are uplifting, kind, and inspiring. Truly, one of the best life hacks is to surround yourself with people who bring the joy and productivity out of you.
The opposite principle is also true. Don’t be afraid to be selective about the people in your life.
If someone makes you unhappy, stressed, or discouraged then don’t feel obligated to make them an active part of your life. Give yourself permission to say no.
That’s not to say you should quit your job because your boss stresses you out. You can’t always choose your boss, but you can choose your friends.
#9 Avoid the Tendency to Isolate
We’ve all done it. Someone recognizes that we might be having a hard time, but when they ask all we say is, “I’m fine”.
The simple act of talking through our feelings to someone we trust contributes significantly to our mental health.
For some that might mean talking to a friend or loved one. For others, it means seeing a therapist. If you’re talking with a loved one, remember they LOVE you!
If you’re talking with a therapist, remember they’ve gone through years of study and practice so that they can help.
Even though anxiety is highly treatable, less than 37% of those who have it seek professional help.
Don’t let the fear of being judged by someone keep you from accessing help and support.
You are not powerless. You have access to endless resources that can be applied specifically to you and for your benefit.
Treating anxiety is about loving yourself.
Get more tips on self-care today!