What can I do to relieve anxiety?

What can I do to relieve anxiety?

Anxiety is our body's natural reaction to stressful situations. It can be a good thing protecting us from dangers and spurring us into action. However for some people anxiety is particularly disabling, long lasting or unpleasant. More than 1 in 10 people will experience a disabling anxiety disorder at some stage in their life.

If you are struggling with anxiety there are things that you can do to help relieve the symptoms. Not all of these ideas work for everyone, and some of them may seam small compared to the amount of anxiety you are experiencing. I know in the past when well-meaning people have given me advice about my mental health it has sometime felt like this...

This meme came out a few years ago when a huge ship got stuck in the Suez canal. There were little diggers on either side of the canal trying to dig it out, and some little tug boats pulling at it. These efforts looked pathetic in comparison to the size of the ship, and this meme made me laugh. 

But over a few weeks all of theses little things working together started to move the behemoth. It made me think that actually it is the same for us. These little things we do to try to improve our mental health might look small and inconsequential compared to the felt enormity of our problems, but small things can add up over time to make a big difference. I know in my own experience that making small lifestyle changes have improved my mental health, so read the rest of this article with an open mind and think about what small steps you could start with.

- Ask for help. it might be hard to do this but being open and honest with people you trust can pave the way to getting support.

- Be kind to yourself. Do something you enjoy, let yourself have a little time off even if there is lots to be done. You will come back from relaxing with more energy and motivation

-Talk to your doctor or a counsellor. If anxiety is impacting on your life so much that you are struggling with work, rest, or relationships then talking to a professional or getting medication can help.

-Exercise can help to regulate your anxiety and help you to sleep better at night. Even if it's just a short walk it can help to have a change of scenery. 

-Establishing routines for tricky parts of the day - for example first thing in the morning, can enable you to get up and get going without having to think too much or make decisions.

-Use your senses in whatever you do. If you are walking somewhere take time to look at the trees and buildings, listen to the sounds, smell the smells, feel the wind or sunshine on your skin. 

-Pray. Tell God exactly what you are feeling and ask Him to help. It is OK to give your anxious thoughts to God He is big enough to cope with all we have got. 

-Read Psalms. There is so much wisdom in the Bible. The psalmists cover so many different emotions, read through some and see if what they are saying resonates with your experience.

-Put on some worship music and have a dance. Remembering God's incredible goodness and love for us can turn your anxiety into praise. 

-Give thanks. We are told to do this in the Bible and much contemporary evidence also suggests that being grateful can help retune your brain to a more positive mindset. So don't sit reading all the bad news, instead start listing the ways God has made a difference to your life.

Philippians 4:5 The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus

As I said above, not everything in this list will be suitable for you, and if you are having a bad day then you may just be in survival mode, and that's OK. These ideas are there to help you put some little things into your life, and little things over time can make a big difference.