If you struggle with any amount of anxiety, then learning how to relax your nervous system can come in handy. Whether it’s social anxiety, situational anxiety, chronic anxiety, or an anxiety disorder, learning and applying anxiety reduction techniques can decrease anxiousness.
I spent many years struggling with social anxiety. I could write and express myself on paper like there’s no tomorrow. However, when I was face to face with people, my anxiety levels would get out of control. Needless-to-say, isolating became more and more tempting.
At the same time, I didn’t want to allow anxiety to control my life, so I delved into learning and applying anxiety-reduction techniques. And, I started doing these things regularly. It’s one thing to learn a technique, and it’s quite another to actually use it regularly.
The following are 4 anxiety-reduction techniques that are proving to help me better regulate my nervous system and feel less anxiety. If you can relate to frazzled nerves, I hope these will help you too.
To be mindful means that you pay attention to the present moment. You focus on the “now”, rather than ruminate about the past or think about the future.
There are varying levels of mindfulness. I used to dabble in mindfulness, being “present” occasionally. But it wasn’t until I started practicing mindfulness daily, with intention, that I started reaping the benefits of the practice.
How can you become more mindful?
Start paying attention to your breath. Notice it. Follow it in and out. At the same time, be aware of your body. Scan it from head to toe seeing if you can feel any sensations. Feel your feet against the ground or your butt in the chair. Be aware of the space that you’re in. What do you see? What do you hear? What are you feeling?
You see, it’s so easy to live in autopilot mode, all wrapped up in thoughts. If you’re anything like me, staying in my “head” causes me to feel anxious. When I take time to bring my attention to my immediate space, including my body and breath, I can relax. I can remind my nervous system that it is safe.
That I am safe.
So, tip number 1 for relaxing your nervous system is practice mindful living. Be in the “now” as often as you can be. Be present when you’re making dinner, cleaning up, getting ready in the morning, playing with your kids, and so on.
Meditation is one technique that has proven to reduce anxiety and stress. In fact, meditation has been around since the ancient days and has been used for relaxation and as a tool for spiritual development. It’s quite easy to meditate. The hardest part is to actually make yourself sit quietly for any length of time.
In its simplest form, meditation is sitting quietly focusing on the inhale and exhale of the breath. The goal is to focus on the present and quiet the mind. I’m sure you are aware of the thousands of thoughts running through your mind every day. It’s difficult to get a quiet moment in the mind, especially in the noisy environments we live in.
The more you focus on going within, observing your breath in and out, the more your nervous system will relax. And, less thoughts will be swirling in the mind. Sure, random thoughts will come in, but they do not have to stay. Simply observe them and let them go.
If you are not used to meditating, it’s a good idea to begin with just a few minutes at a time. To sit still and quiet the mind for three minutes might sound easy, but it’s harder than you think. What will happen over time is that you will get used to the quiet, being mindful, and come to experience a deep sense of relaxation.
To reduce anxiety levels, get in the habit of practicing meditation for anxiety every day. Start off with a few minutes and increase in increments up to 15 or 20 minutes per day. A great time to do this is either in the morning when you awake or in the evening before you go to sleep. It’s alright if you fall asleep while meditating in the evening. The technique may help you sleep peacefully.
Also, during the day if you feel anxiety increasing, take a few minutes to yourself and practice meditation for a few minutes. Take a few deep breaths and then concentrate on your breathing. You will find that within a couple of minutes, your feelings of anxiety will decrease. Meditation for anxiety is great for reducing stress and for growing spiritually.
Did you know that many athletes make themselves yawn before competing? The same goes for speakers, musicians, and more.
A good yawn can help your nervous system feel safe and relax because it can lower the hyperactivity that occurs in the frontal lobe. It’s an easy anxiety-reduction tool that you can use anytime. It can also help boost your mental awareness, which can be helpful while you’re at work, taking a test, and so on.
One interesting not about yawning is that it is herd behavior. It helps keep the pack from going wild, encouraging everyone to calm down.
Yawn as often as you want. Even a fake yawn has some positive effects on your body.
If you’re feeling anxiety, soften your eyes like you do when you’re daydreaming. When we daydream, we’re not really focusing our eyesight on anything in particular. We soften the eyes, and if we’re daydreaming about something we consider good, we may even smile a little.
This softening of the eyes triggers the parasympathetic part of your nervous system, which actually helps you feel less anxiety.
Try it out. You simply soften the muscles around your eyes and don’t focus on anything in particular. Become aware of your peripheral vision too, expanding your awareness. Breathe slowly and allow your body to relax.
This is a simple tool to help you experience less anxiety.
I used to think I was a slave to high anxiety. Eventually, I started learning that I don’t have to let it control my life.
Is it completely gone? No, but it’s better and I’m still learning and practicing.
There are many anxiety-reduction tools and techniques to help us reduce anxiety, as well as learn how to hold that anxiety without letting it freak us out.
It takes time, effort, and practice. I hope you’ll find these 4 anxiety reduction tips helpful.