HNP Guide to: Anxiety - 4 Fast Fixes for When Anxiety Strikes
There’s no other way to say it, anxiety sucks. It takes over your whole body and mind, leaving you feeling depleted, helpless and paralyzed - which is why we put together 4 Fast Fixes for you to feel instant relief and help you chill out when you need it the most.
When we began researching anxiety for Happy Not Perfect, we learned that it is actually a fight or flee response. Anxiety is triggered when powerful neurochemicals and hormones prepare us to take action. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, are released—only most of the time there’s no actual danger. It’s just anxiety hanging out in our bodies, twiddling its thumbs, and waiting for something to do.
Scientists have also found that a set of neurons in the hypothalamus (the part of our brain that manages stress), play an important role in anxiety. The neurons release cortisol, but they’re also connected to the parts of the brain related to behavioral responses. You know, those awful symptoms you feel when you’re anxious, like your heart racing and shortness of breath.
But these aren’t the only symptoms anxiety cause.
Like stress, anxiety can cause a host of problems, including: sleep
disturbances, stomach aches , headaches or migraines , back problems or muscle tension , t rouble eating (or overeating) and more.
So in a way, anxiety is just your brain playing tricks on you. Maybe you feel like you’re going to feel this way forever. The good news is... you won’t.
In fact, there are proven, scientific ways to help ease your anxiety right now and to prepare yourself to feel better within a few minutes. And even—in some cases—to stop the anxiety from coming back.
“So that’s nice,” you’re thinking, “but what can I do right now to stop feeling anxious?”
We’re here for you. First, take a deep, relaxing breath. Then keep reading to check out our fast remedies for when anxiety knocks you down.
Hey there, body...how you doin’?
The very first thing we need to do is check in with our bodies. We know, we know—the last thing we want to do when we’re feeling anxious is to pay attention to our jittery bodies. Typically, we’d much rather sit back with a glass of wine and do everything but pay attention to what’s happening inside us.
But guess what? That’s a big mistake. Why? Because anxiety is a physiological change that can sometimes be triggered by what we’re putting in (or what we’re not putting in) our bodies.
A few of the biggest anxiety-inducing culprits include: coffee (or other caffeinated products), alcohol, and not drinking enough water.
So instead of doing everything you can to avoid, it’s time to clue in to what’s happening on the inside.
Ask yourself these 5 questions:
Did I drink too much coffee this morning?
Have I been overindulging on alcohol lately?
How has my diet been?
Have I been sleeping enough?
Have I been drinking enough water?
When you’re dehydrated, your body is more likely to experience anxiety. Coffee and alcohol dehydrate you. Lack of sleep contributes to stress and a whole other host of health problems. Also, it’s a lame fact of life, but it’s still a fact: When you eat unhealthy, crap food you’re going to feel like crap.
Next, ask yourself: Have I moved my body lately?
Exercise boosts your endorphins. Even a short walk or some simple stretching can reduce your anxiety significantly. If you’re able, take the dog on a walk, sign up for a yoga class (or do an at-home yoga workout—you can find plenty online), or hit the gym.
If you’re not able to do any of that right now, that’s totally fine too. Try the Happy Not Perfect simple, fast fix for anxiety reduction.
Fast Fix 1: Move Stand up and stretch.
Inhale as you raise your arms up above your head, then exhale as you release them down to your sides. Do this at least 5 times.
Roll your neck back and forth, releasing the tension. Make sure you’re breathing deeply as you do this.
When you’ve finished with this, drink a large glass of water. For your next meal, eat something that will nourish your body. See how you feel after this, repeating as necessary.
Fast Fix 2 : Breathe
Take a long, deep breath in through your nose. Let it out through your mouth. Repeat this a minimum of 3 times, or as long as you need to feel more relaxed. Deep breathing helps reduce cortisol, enhancing well-being.
If you can, add some aromatherapy to the mix. We love lavender for relaxation, but there are a ton of great relaxing options. Inhale the calming scent of your choice as you breathe deeply.
If you prefer to do it with a some expert guidance from one of the world’s leading breathing instructors, check out our audio and video sessions on the Happy Not Perfect app - and feel relief in just a few minutes!
When you can’t stop obsessing/ruminating
Many times we’re anxious because we’re caught up in our minds. Obsessing about problems or creating some that aren’t even there. We’re reliving a fight we had with a friend, imagining what we should have said (honestly—why do we still do this?). Or maybe we’re nervous about a job interview or stressful social situation and we Just. Cant. Stop. Ruminating.
If rumination is your problem, we’ve got your back.
Fast Fix 3: Confront, release, and redirect
First, check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “What is it I’m obsessing over?” When you have your answer, ask yourself this next question:
“Is my anxious thinking actually fixing the problem?”
If it’s not (and we’re guessing it’s not), it’s time to let it go.
Take a deep breath, exhale deeply, and let go of this thought. When it tries to come back, don’t panic. Simply keep breathing and let it go again. It’s just a thought. It’s not going to hurt you.
Now replace it with a more positive thought. Pick an affirmation. Something like:
“I am ok. I am not my anxiety.”
“Everything is fine. My anxiety can’t hurt me.”
Come up with an affirmation that works for you and use it to replace your negative thought. Better yet, reflect on how you can change your perspective on the situation. We’ve found that this works wonders for our anxiety.
The easiest way to release and redirect is with a REFRESH routine on the Happy Not Perfect App. Release your anxious thoughts in the burn bin and shift your focus towards the good stuff in your gratitude diary. You can download the app and do a REFRESH routine (that’s tailored to how you feel at the moment) over here at no cost!
When it’s time to phone a friend
Here’s a little secret: Distraction does work sometimes.
Yes, we should check in with our bodies and make sure we’re hydrated. Yes, we should take care of ourselves, breathe deeply, and generally be the badass people we are.
But sometimes we also need a little break. We need to laugh. We need to take our minds off things.
If this is the case, try this.
Fast Fix 4 : Phone a friend
Pick up the phone and call your best friend (and yes, it’s totally fine if your mom is your best friend—we get it). Bonus points if your friend is someone who makes you laugh.
Laughter relaxes your whole body and is great for anxiety, your heart, and even your immune system. Laughing triggers the release of endorphins, which are part of the brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. Endorphins are those natural happy chemicals found in your body.
Pick a healthy activity you and your friend both enjoy—then go do it. Maybe it’s a hike in the woods, a major venting session over dinner, or just watching a funny movie. Whatever your thing is, go do it and most importantly HAVE FUN.
Life doesn’t always need to be so serious. Sometimes letting go, taking our minds off things, and enjoying life is totally where it’s at.
Anxiety still sucks. But with the right tools at hand, you can take control of it easily and feel better within a few minutes.
If you suspect you’re suffering from an anxiety disorder, you may need more serious treatment and should contact your doctor. But for many of us, we can snap out of it quickly and there is no reason for anxiety to stick around.
So move your body and breathe deeply . Laugh a little, or a lot. Try out a REFRESH on the app . And surround yourself with good people.
Were these 4 Fast Fixes helpful? If you want more guidance on how to breathe, need a little help in releasing and redirecting your thoughts or feel like you “should” meditate but you’re too busy (or simply haven’t figured out the how), check out the Happy Not Perfect App over here! We’ve got 70+ Meditate sessions, mind games, guided audio and video material to help you take control of how you feel and kick anxiety to the curb.
Take a deep breath. We love you!