If anxiety has been ruling your life in 2016, then this new year is the time for you to have a fresh start. Make mental health resolutions that will help manage anxiety and give you a greater sense of control over your brain and your life.
You can implement these 14 things throughout the year or try one or two a month. Either way, you'll be feeling stronger, more empowered, and happier every day. We all have anxiety, some of us more so than others — these things can help us keep it in check. Let's do this!
- Practice deep breathing. Get yourself a tracker or an app, or learn some techniques from yoga. Learning good, slow breathing techniques can come in handy if you're experiencing a panic attack or extreme anxiety.
- Take up a meditation practice. Whether it's on a meditation app, in a class, with a YouTube video, or on your own, calming yourself at least once a day can help manage your anxiety in a powerful way.
- Eat more foods with anxiety-reducing minerals. Did you know that there are foods that can calm you down? Omega 3s, B vitamins, magnesium, and more can all contribute to a greater sense of calm. Many therapists and psychiatrists also recommend a diet that is rich in foods like salmon, which are chock-full of mood-boosting omegas.
- Start a gratitude journal. When everything feels too overwhelming, a journal can help. Write down all your thoughts, but also remind yourself of the positives and what is rooted in reality. Bring yourself to the present moment.
- Find a therapist you love. You can only do so much on your own. If anxiety is a part of your everyday life, a therapist should be, too. Honestly, we can all benefit from therapy, and we could all stand to learn a little bit more about ourselves, our brains, and how we operate as individuals. Committing to regular therapy can help give you a sense of control over your life and your anxiety; it's a built-in a support system and a safe place to talk about what you're going through with tools that have been proven to work.
- Find a workout you love. One that actually works for you and your anxiety. While yoga is calming and centring for many, some anxiety sufferers feel like it's too much stillness and they're left alone with overwhelming thoughts. Maybe you need a challenging new workout where you don't have a second to think about anything but what you're doing in that moment. Finding a workout that forces you to be present is imperative.
- Take more self-care days. Too many plans and too many people asking for things from you can agitate your anxiety. Take a weekend day where you say no to plans and give yourself a break to do exactly what you need and want to do, even if that means doing nothing all day.
- Disconnect from technology more. Are constant texts, emails, and social notifications bogging you down mentally and emotionally? Turn it off. Keep your phone charger away from your bed. Take a few hours a day to disconnect.
- Try a natural practice, like reiki, acupuncture, oil diffusing, forest bathing, or earthing. Each of these holistic approaches have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Can't hurt to try!
- Have a mantra for the year: "Anxiety does not control me." Repeating this to yourself can serve as a constant reminder that you are in control of your life and mental illness does not rule you. Everyone has anxiety; it's what makes us human! What matters is our relationship with it. You wouldn't let a friend control you, so don't let your anxiety control you either.
- Get more sleep. Sleep is a huge factor in reducing anxiety and stress. Make it a goal to get at least seven or eight hours per night.
- Remove unhealthy relationships and nurture the good ones. There are going to be people in your life who either just don't understand anxiety or don't make you feel good and perhaps make your anxiety worse. You don't need those people in your life! Foster your relationships with the people who build you up, support you, and understand when you need some time to yourself. Those people are on your team and will be there for you for life.
- Cut back on caffeine. If you've known about your anxiety for a while, you'll already know this, but if you're just learning, it's especially important to know: caffeine can trigger panic attacks. If you're a daily coffee drinker, you might be surprised at how much it's impacting your anxiety levels.
- Stop feeling bad about feeling bad. You're not a bad person, there's nothing wrong with you, and it's OK to have anxious feelings. Feeling guilt or shame around your anxiety is only going to make things worse — they're useless emotions that serve no purpose! Let go of the burden and know that it's OK to not feel happy or 100 percent all the time.
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