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5 Effective Strategies to Manage and Reduce Anxiety

"Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strengths." - Charles Spurgeon

Did you know that over 40 million Americans struggle with anxiety every year? Anxiety is the most common mental health struggle and it affects both our personal and professional lives. According to research, anxiety didn't even rank as a top mental health concern until 2017. In addition, anxiety can also be associated with depression and impact our relationships and our physical well-being. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder. Youth, ages 18-24, are more likely to experience anxiety, as well as depression. Anxiety is treatable, and that's encouraging, however over half of people with anxiety do not seek help for their symptoms.

It's also vital to know that anxiety can lead to panic attacks, as well as other physical issues. Self-care is key in reducing anxiety and stress and the best way to fend off health concerns in the future. Begin by incorporating new habits and avoiding harmful habits that are impeding your health. Here are a few actions steps you can begin to take today for better health management.

1. Create a Morning Routine

Creating a morning routine can be the catalyst for a successful day. By creating a morning routine that incorporates eating a healthy breakfast and a light morning exercise or a walk around the neighborhood, you feel more energized to seize the day ahead. A morning routine is a vehicle that can help you plan ahead, have consistency, and know what comes next, this assists in reducing stress and anxiety. It helps you set clear intentions for your day so that you can make better decisions.

Consider timing your routine so you know how long it will take you to get ready for work or school. Consider traffic, if you drive to work. A girlfriend of mine once told me that just leaving her house 5 to 10 minutes later than she would normally, meant it would take her 30-minutes longer to get to work. In addition, by being prepared with a morning routine, you begin your day calmer and more equipped to handle the days responsibilities!

For me, this means, not hitting the snooze button. Jumping in the shower while listening to my Christian tunes. Not being on social, but instead using that time wisely to get dressed, pray, do a few minutes of exercise, and eat a healthy breakfast before jumping on my computer. I also take a morning break to walk my dogs, when my schedule allows.

  • Have you created your morning routine? If not, what changes can you begin to incorporate today to not only be ready to handle the obligations of the day, but furthermore be calmer, more positive, and motivated for a new day of life?

  • What is one condition you can put in place to make sure that you have a morning routine that works for you?

2. Journaling for Emotional Balance

One powerful tool to help balance emotions is keeping a journal where you can write about your emotions. This is a tool I use with my clients and they report that incorporating this tool into their daily lives has been extremely beneficial in improving their mental health.

Begin by writing three things you are grateful for today. Write about your day and what went well. If you had a difficult day, write first about what happened, then rewrite what happened changing the narrative to what you would do differently next time. Could have you have said or done something differently that would have made the situation better? Give yourself grace. We all have bad days or difficult situations. We can't change other's actions or certain situations, however we can choose how we respond and take our burdens to the Lord. Our goal is to always bring Christ into the picture, so that by His strength we can improve the situation. This is how we learn and grow.

In addition, keeping a journal will help you to see patterns and identify triggers that will aid in managing and improving your mental health.

  • What are three things you are grateful for today?

  • What went well?

  • Is there something you can implement today to improve your mental health?

3. Self-Care as a Preventative Tool

Self-care is an essential component for managing, improving, and preventing mental health issues. It encompasses a holistic view addressing our spiritual, social, mental and emotional, and physical well-being.

  • What does your God time look like? Are you praying and reading your Bible? Are you involved in a faith-based community? Is there something you need to do to strengthen your relationship with God?

  • Who is your support group and your cheerleaders that are there for you? These are the people you can call when you receive bad news or you're stranded on the freeway. They are also the people that celebrate with you in the big and small victories of life.

  • How are you feeling mentally and emotionally? Are you in a good place or are you struggling? What coping mechanisms are you using when you feel anxious, depressed, or burned-out? Do you need to schedule an appointment with a mental health provider?

  • What does your physical life look like? Are you eating healthy, exercising, hydrating, and getting 8-hours of sleep? What is one area you can improve today?

4. Set-up and Evening Routine

As important as it is to create a morning routine, implementing an evening ritual can also bring about benefits for better management of anxiety, stress, and depression.

Establishing an evening routine can assist with time management by being proactive in the things that can be done the previous night to save time, as well as minimizing the things that need to be done in the morning. This might look like picking out the clothes you will wear the night before, setting the coffee machine on automatic, or putting your supplies by the door (such as your purse or laptop) so that you are ready to head out the door.

What that might look like? For me: dinner with my family, talking about our day, walking our dogs together, coming home to unwind. Sometimes it includes looking at the week ahead, planning, and creating my to do lists so that I am well prepared before meeting with my clients and social activities.

Why this works for me? I get to connect socially, daily. I get to bond with my family. I get to socialize with other dog lovers, get out in nature, and get my steps in. This makes for a winning day for me!

  • What does your evening routine look like and how does it help you with your morning routine?

  • How can establishing an evening routine improve your mental health and physical well-being?

  • Are you taking time to unwind every evening before you go to bed?

5. Fun over Fear

Not the same as faith over fear, but I do believe that God would rather we have fun instead of fear to help us kick anxiety good-bye.

  • Make a list of at least 5 things you enjoy doing. When was the last time you did something you enjoyed doing? How often do you do it and are there opportunities for friends to come along?

  • When was the last time you went on vacation? What's the plan for this year?

  • Did you laugh today? The Bible tells us that laughter is the best medicine! My advice, laugh always and hang out with friends who influence your life in a positive way.

A girl friend and I recently went to a painting class. We were able to spend time together creating a simple masterpiece. She had never had that experience, but I know that she liked to color and found that time relaxing. I knew she would find this time therapeutic. We talked, we laughed, and we enjoyed each other's company.

What are the therapeutic things you do every day that helps to boost your mental health - reducing anxiety, stress, and depression?

I like to dance when I do my chores. I prioritize my God and family time. I play with my dogs, Molly and Dakota. I schedule regular friend dates. And, if you see a crazy women singing in her car, that just might be me.

"I've had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened." - Mark Twain

“A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22



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