It sounds too good to be true, but anxiety really is something that can be reduced very quickly. While you cannot CURE your anxiety in one day, you can CALM it to a degree that it stops affecting you as much. With the right tools and tricks, you can successfully calm your anxiety in as little as one evening, and potentially leverage those improvements toward fighting your anxiety permanently.
Attacking Anxiety Based on Symptoms
Symptom relief is the key to attacking anxiety. By addressing individual symptoms you can control anxiety separately, in a way that will allow you to permanently prevent anxiety from controlling your life.
But, let's say you have to reduce your anxiety in one evening. Is it possible? The answer is absolutely yes. In fact, there are many strategies that help control anxiety that can take place in as little as a single day.
Step 1: Exercise
Before you do anything else, go for a jog. Jogging is quite literally as effective as anxiety medications, with none of the side effects. Studies have compared jogging (and most intense exercise) to medications and found that jogging reports results that are just as strong, with none of the side effect risk.
You've always thought that jogging was important to your physical health, but by taking up jogging you can immediately see results for your mental health. Jogging releases endorphins (neurotransmitters that improve mood), relaxes muscles, burns away the stress hormone cortisol, improves sleep, and provides mental distractions. Some people find that jogging alone significantly decreases their anxiety symptoms.
Step 2: Breath Training
If you're suffering from anxiety at this very moment, pay attention to how you are breathing. Often you'll either feel like you're not getting a deep breath or you are breathing too quickly. Quick, shallow breaths can lead to hyperventilation which is one of the main physical anxiety symptoms.
Start by breathing better. There is a method of relaxation known as deep breathing that can be effective, but it can take a while to master. For now (since we only have one evening), simply slow down your breathing to 15 breaths per minute. The average adult takes 12-20 breaths per minute so by slowing down your breathing to 15 breaths you will be at a normal respiratory rate Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, taking purposeful breaths. This will help you regain the carbon dioxide you lost when you hyperventilated, and improve blood flow to your brain.
Step 3: Sensory Stimulation
Generally, technology actually creates more anxiety. Staring at bright moving lights, watching stressful things on TV, playing around with your iPhone - all of these have been known to increase anxiety.
The best type of sensory stimulation is one that involves doing healthy activities with your friends, like hiking. But assuming you're in your own home and your friends are not available, listening to happy and/or relaxing music, working on a puzzle, talking on the phone with someone you love, or even turning on humorous and non-stressful TV shows are all effective ways to calm your anxiety.
Anxiety is self-sustaining. It causes thoughts that increase anxiety. Stimulating your senses is a powerful way to decrease the amount of thinking and internalizing you do. If you choose to use technology be sure that it is always focused on happiness and relaxation. No dramas, no horror shows, no loud and angry music, no reality TV shows. It doesn't matter if these things seem to relax you - they stimulate anxiety at a subconscious level, and are thus not effective ways to promote relaxation.
Step 4: Journaling
It may seem surprising but writing out your thoughts is incredibly therapeutic. Often when you are feeling anxious you are dwelling on specific thoughts or thought patterns. Journaling provides you with a space to release those thoughts, to get them off of your mind instead of continuously thinking about them.
So keep a notebook by you and start writing out the thoughts that come into your head, no matter what they are. This activity will put those thoughts on paper so that your mind doesn't feel the need to focus on them anymore, and it can reduce your anxiety.
Step 5: Accepting Anxiety
Anxiety is a perfectly normal and healthy part of life. It is when anxiety begins to interfere with daily functioning that it becomes a problem. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 40 million adults worldwide struggle with anxiety. If you feel that your anxiety is out of control first try to accept that this is a struggle for you. Getting anxious about being anxious can actually make your symptoms more intense.
Secondly, anxiety is an incredibly curable condition, and nearly everyone that seeks treatment can eventually find relief. Be okay with your anxiety, and know that it's not something that has to affect you forever. There is no shame in seeking help to overcome your anxiety. By accepting that you have anxiety you are taking the first step in recovering from it.
Other Methods of Overnight Anxiety Control
If you integrate just these five things into your life right now, your anxiety can decrease overnight. But let's assume you have more time. You can also do all of the following:
- Drink Water Dehydration is extremely common in today's society, and studies have shown that it makes anxiety symptoms worse. Even if you don't feel thirsty, drink more water and you may find that your anxiety decreases right away.
- Take Magnesium Magnesium is a mineral that studies have shown often provides anxiety relief. In addition, as many as 50% of the country is magnesium deficient due to modern food processing practices. Talk to your doctor about taking magnesium for your anxiety.
- Get Grounded Literally. Take off your socks and shoes and let your feet feel the Earth beneath them. Breathe in the fresh air. Notice if the air is dry or cold or hot. Listen to the sounds around you. Allow nature to help ground you to the here and now.
Taking a long bath or shower may also have some benefit, as can lovemaking with your partner. Combine all of these strategies and your anxiety may be drastically reduced quite literally overnight.