Anxiety is something many people live with every day. Did you know that most of the things we worry about never happen? Even though we may know this, many of us worry about them anyway. At some point, we have all experienced anxiety in our lives in one way or another. If you suffer from anxiety frequently, I want you to know that you can overcome it and find peace in your life. There are many tools and tips available to help you turn those fears into love and peace, and in this article I will share those that have worked best for me.
I suffered with anxiety as a child. As I look back on all those years of living in fear and self-induced stress, I realize how unhealthy it was. But I also realize it was a gift. I needed to go through the process of dealing with it to get to where I am today. By the grace of God, I was able to find some tools that have helped me to overcome all of my fears and find lasting peace in my life.
There are an unlimited amount of tools to help you deal with anxiety, and your job is to find what works best for you. With each problem you experience, there are many possible solutions. What worked for me may or may not be helpful to you. Here are 11 tools and tips that I have found to be useful for easing the worries and fears in my own life:
- Exercise – Virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever. Get your body moving in any way you enjoy. Exercise does not have to cost money. You can simply go for a walk, garden, clean the house, or engage in any exercise that you enjoy. Make it fun, but most importantly, just get moving!
- Get Outside – Everything in nature is medicine! From the light of the sun to the minerals in the rocks on the ground, and everything in between. When I am feeling stressed, one of my favorite things to do is to go for a walk out in the fresh air (sometimes with my dog, sometimes with a friend, and sometimes by myself.) When I walk alone, I focus on enjoying and appreciating the nature all around me, and I give gratitude for nature and all of the things I have been blessed with. Another of my favorite things to do is take a deep breath in, look up at the sky, and say a silent prayer of gratitude. It only takes a few seconds, but my stress is often instantly relieved when I do this.
- Meditation – Even 5 minutes of meditation can help bring your awareness to the present moment and help you to ease your fears. Here is a 5 minute guided meditation I have found to be very calming for me. If this particular video doesn’t work for you, there are many others out there. Simply search the internet for “5 minute guided meditation.”
- Keep a Journal – I personally find writing to be very therapeutic. In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron introduces a practice that can be very beneficial in helping you to reduce anxiety while improving your daily productivity and regaining your creativity. This practice is called “morning pages.” Morning pages consists of writing 3 pages in your journal upon waking each morning. Write whatever comes to mind, and do not worry about spelling, grammar, etc. Simply write without stopping until you have filled up 3 pages. When I decided to challenge myself to writing morning pages daily for 30-days, I experienced many unexpected benefits. I found that my days were more productive, I gained clarity on what my priorities really were in life, and I gained some valuable insights about life that led me to write my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge. Another benefit of morning pages was that it helped me to let go of some of my worries. If “morning pages” seem too much for you, simply consider starting a journal and just writing your worries in there whenever they come up. You may be surprised how therapeutic and helpful that can be!
- Turn off the News – If you struggle with anxiety, one tip I strongly recommend is that you turn off the news. You do not need to know about every fire, murder, or car accident that has happened in your area each day. I do not watch the news at all, and I am easily able to keep up to date with everything I need to know through the headlines on-line and through my local town page on Facebook. I simply click on those that I feel I need to know more about. There is no need for me or my kids to see visuals of fires, murders, or accident scenes to add to our list of everyday stresses. Instead of filling up your time with the local news, try replacing that time filling your mind with inspiring stories. Do this and watch your attitude about the world shift from one of worry and fear to one of love and peace. This advice is reinforced in my favorite bible verse: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~Philippians 4:8 NIV
- Yoga – I personally practice yoga at least once a week, and I have found it to be a very relaxing experience for me in body, mind, and spirit. It helps me to focus on the present moment – something that is often very difficult to do in this day and age, especially as a mom. According to Yoga Journal, just one of the benefits of yoga is that it relaxes your system: “Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.” Check out the article 38 Health Benefits of Yoga to learn about more of the benefits of yoga.
- Reiki – Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. I am a certified reiki practitioner, and I have witnessed the calming effects this technique has had on my family members and clients. If you are interested in finding out more about reiki, you may do so at Reiki.org.
- EFT Tapping – EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Tapping is another method that has proven to be highly effective in helping people to overcome their fears and phobias. Tapping is a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology. As you tap your fingers on specific points on your body, you acknowledge your fears out loud. This helps you to become in tune with your feelings, and then it allows you to fully experience them so you are able to let them go. I know from experience that tapping really works! When my daughter developed some physical health issues last year, it caused her a great deal of anxiety. After many doctor visits and tests and many school days missed, the doctors and specialists could find nothing physically wrong with her, but she insisted that the symptoms still existed. Her anxiety grew, and fears began taking over her life. She became afraid of going to school. She was even afraid to go to sleep at night! We began tapping on these issues and discovered some underlying fears that were contributing to these bigger fears. We tapped on these issues every night. Within a few weeks, all of her fears were gone and all of her health issues were completely resolved and have not returned. Tapping is wonderful because it is a tool that you can use anytime and anywhere, it doesn’t require the assistance of anyone else, it is absolutely free, and it is very simple to learn! If you would like to learn how to do it, visit The Tapping Solution to watch free instructional videos and to download some very useful tapping sessions to help reduce stress.
- Change Your Thoughts from Fear into Love and Gratitude -Just as light and darkness are opposites and cannot exist simultaneously, love and fear work the same way. When you shine a light into a room, the darkness is removed. Similarly, when you focus your thoughts on gratitude and love, worry and fears dissolve. I recently had the opportunity to practice turning my fear into love and gratitude. When I chose to do so, my worries vanished and I was overcome with peace. My youngest daughter recently broke her arm and had to have a procedure done with anesthesia for the first time. When she was 20 months old, she became very sick due to a reaction to a vaccine. Since then, I have been fearful of vaccines, medicines, and putting anything unnatural into our bodies unless it was absolutely necessary. Needless to say, I had a very difficult time dealing with her having anesthesia, and it caused me much anxiety and worry.As I sat in the waiting room while she was having the procedure done to fix her arm, the fears came rushing to me. I kept thinking, “What if she doesn’t wake up?” Finally, after worrying myself for several minutes, I made the decision to stop worrying and to turn my fears into love.In that moment, I closed my eyes and sent love to everyone in the operating room with my daughter, and I gave thanks for all of them. I envisioned the room filled with a white light, and I sent love and positive thoughts to everyone involved. Then, I gave thanks for the one thing that was causing me the most anxiety – the anesthesia. I thanked it for helping this to be a positive experience for my daughter, and I tried to focus on all the good things about the anesthesia. Because of it, she would have no pain during the procedure. She would also have no memory of it, so it would not be a traumatic experience for her, and it would not cause her to develop new fears that she would have to deal with for the rest of her life. When she woke up, her arm would be back together in a cast and on its way to healing properly. Choosing to focus on the benefits of anesthesia and turning my thoughts from fear into love and gratitude helped me to calm down immediately.Within moments, the doctor emerged and he let me know that everything had gone smoothly and my daughter had done great. I was taken to the recovery room to wait for her to wake up. When she opened her eyes, I was right there by her side. The first words that came out of her mouth were, “I’m bored!” Right then, I could tell that she was her usual self, and it gave me a great sense of relief. For the rest of the time we were there, everyone was fantastic with her. The nurses were all so attentive, and I could feel the love that I had sent out being returned to us.When I decided to change my fears into love and gratitude, everything changed. I saved myself many moments of unnecessary worry when I took the opportunity to look for the good in the anesthesia and give thanks for it. That is just another reminder that everything in life can be a gift if you look for the good and focus on that! ~from The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge: Day 17.
- Let Go of Perfectionism – Learn to accept yourself exactly as you are. Accept others just as they are without judgement. Recognize and appreciate the unique gifts you have to offer as well as those that others have to offer. Let go of your desire to fit society’s definition of perfect, and also let go of your desire to control others to fit your expectations of perfect. Nobody is perfect. If we were, then there would be no opportunity for growth. One of the reasons we are on this earth is to grow and to learn from our mistakes, and to help and teach others as we grow and learn along the way. If we can recognize that we were not meant to be perfect and we allow ourselves to make mistakes in everyday life once in a while, we will take a lot of stress and pressure off of ourselves. Stress is not healthy, and perfectionism is generally not healthy (unless you’re a surgeon or in a profession where perfectionism is necessary…then by all means, please keep your high standards.) But in everyday life, we all make mistakes. Many of us try to live up to the expectations of our society, and that is very unhealthy. There is so much pressure to be the perfect parent, raise a perfect family, live in a perfect house, hold a perfect job, all while having the perfect body. Guess what? Perfection does not exist. I have finally come to realize that, and life is so much easier and enjoyable without all that added pressure. I believe one of the reasons I suffered with anxiety as a child is because I could never live up to my expectations of perfection. I excelled in school all the way throughout my college years, but now I look back and ask myself, “why?” Why did I put so much stress and pressure on myself to be the perfect student? I do believe there is a reason for everything, and maybe the reason is so I can teach my kids that it’s ok not to be perfect. It’s ok if you don’t get A’s on everything. It’s ok if my house is not spotless 100% of the time. It’s ok to try new things. It’s ok to make mistakes. It’s ok to be myself and do things my own way. We are all growing and learning, and it’s ok if we’re not perfect all the time (or even most of the time.) Nobody is. How boring life would be if we were perfect! There are so many ways to do everything, and each of our jobs is to find what works best for us. A perfect life is an authentic life…it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
- Surrender -I have discovered that the best way to a life of peace and serenity is through surrender. We must remember that we are not the master planner of our lives. Events are going to happen that are out of our control, and some of them may even be traumatic. Sometimes we will be distracted, and things are not always going to go the way we plan. When these things happen, we are presented with two choices: we could feel sorry for ourselves because things aren’t going as we planned, or we could embrace the distractions and unfortunate situations and recognize each one as a gift and an opportunity to grow. Sometimes these traumatic events may lead us to develop fears, phobias, or limiting beliefs. The first step to overcoming any of these is to recognize them and decide that we want to overcome them. Sometimes it feels safer to hang on to our fears, but that only prevents us from achieving our dreams and it does not allow us to grow into the person we were meant to be. When we decide to let go and let God take over, we surrender control of our lives and decide to put our complete trust in God (or the universe, the process of life, or whatever you personally call it). We then realize that everything happens in its own perfect time and for a reason. We come to the understanding that we will receive everything we need at the perfect time, so there is no need for worry. This realization and trust will provide us with a deep level of peace. After living with anxiety for many years, I have finally experienced the deep peace that comes with surrender. Once you find this peace, you are able to tap into it at any time. I don’t believe there is any greater gift than that! (This excerpt was also from my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge: Day 17.)
These are just a few tools you might want to try to help you relieve your worries and fears. There are many, many more I could list, including music, aromatherapy, and the list goes on and on! If none of these tips work for you, keep searching and trying new things. Don’t give up!
What is your favorite way to relieve stress? Please leave your favorite tip in the comments.