Are you looking for tools that are more uncommon when it comes to dealing with anxiety? This article will explore five under-used tools.
Photo courtesy of Marcos Paulo Prado.
Whenever we feel, we are connected to everyone around us. After all, one of the most universal ways all humans are connected is through emotions. Emotions are key to communicating with those around us and emotions can be complex. Emotions are also crucial to your behaviors and the way that you think. There are multiple reasons why emotions are essential to our everyday lives, and one of the most important aspects of them for humans is the ability to empathize and sympathize with others who are dealing with the same issues.
Anxiety is something many people grapple with in their everyday lives, whether it be with themselves or those around them. Anxiety is not the same for everyone — it does a great job of fitting itself in whoever it chooses. This is why solutions to anxiety can be so hard to pinpoint. It depends on your situation and the person. While each solution to anxiety can depend on the person and situation, there are still tools that you can use to subside the anxiety. There are your age-old solutions like taking a deep breath or writing in a journal, but there are so many tools that have flown under the radar when it comes to helping with anxiety. This article will explore five underused tools to combat anxiety.
Have you heard the saying “A dog is man's best friend?” This has been the case for centuries, but not only limited to canines. Cats, birds, rabbits, and even hamsters can be a source of comfort for many people who suffer from anxiety. Research shows that pets can significantly improve our mental state of being, as well as our physical state of being. An animal can increase your physical activity because animals are such active beings it encourages you to get up and get moving. John Hopkins Medicine says that petting a dog reduces stress and increases your “feel-good hormone.”
This is the hormone that also bonds mothers and children together. Animals also significantly diminish anxious and depressive symptoms. It can give the owner a sense of responsibility because you are the animal’s caretaker. Think of it this way: you help them and they help you. Something really interesting about using animal companionship as a way to reduce anxious episodes and symptoms is that it keeps us more mindful and living in the moment. Animals exist in the present moment and they don’t worry about the future or the past, they simply live. Your animals are so happy that you’re there and spending time with them and that’s the only thing they are aware of at that moment. It helps you reflect on how you can incorporate mindfulness into your life.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to boost the human immune system, lower blood pressure, relieve depressive symptoms, and promote creative thinking. Meditation and mindfulness share similar traits and many of those teachings have their roots in Buddhism. While there is no need to subscribe to the Buddhist religion to practice mindfulness and meditation, it’s important to recognize that it has been used for thousands of years and continues to be used today.
Pranayama breathwork is a type of yogic meditation practice and is used to promote mindfulness. This is different from the normal breathwork that Western civilization is used to, it becomes an entire practice. TIME Health has said that it’s the fastest way to calm down. Essentially pranayama breathwork is part of the Indian system of yoga and describes prana as the universal life force or energy which distinguishes the living from the dead. This life force is also called chi. The practice can make you more aware of your breath but also keep you mindful of why your breath is sacred or important.
Qigong (chi-GONG) is an ancient Chinese practice that is used to significantly improve physical and mental health. According to the National Qigong Association, it can be described as “a mind-body-spirit practice that improves one's mental and physical health by integrating posture, movement, breathing technique, self-massage, sound, and focused intent.” This practice optimizes the flow of energy within your body. There are two types of qigong, dynamic and passive. The difference between them is that dynamic qigong is working with the body as a whole and creating constant movement within the body. Passive qigong is practicing posture, breathwork, and mind exercises. Spiritual beliefs are also great and can improve your social connection by being able to connect with others on the same journey as you.
This may seem like a no-brainer but in this fast-paced world filled with constant triggers and activities to do, sleep may be put on the back burner. Whenever your life is busy with school, work, or other obligations the first thing that usually begins to crumble first is your sleep. This can be a symptom of depression or chronic anxiety, and it disrupts your normal sleeping patterns. When your sleep isn't the quality that it should be, it makes everyday things a little harder. If you want to hone in on your anxiety or depression, starting with sleep may be a really good idea. Talking to your doctor is recommended if you need extra help with sleeping on a normal schedule.
Acupuncture is a technique where a professional practitioner inserts fine needles into the skin to treat all sorts of different health problems. This may seem scary or you’re perhaps skeptical but it is proven to help with anxiety. Studies have shown the positive effects of acupuncture when treating state anxiety. It is still being researched on whether or not it’s effective with chronic anxiety, but it can be a good start in the right direction. It originated from traditional Chinese medicine and has been gaining popularity since the 1970s. Many people have been turning to Eastern medicine and practices because of the benefits they offer.
What’s interesting about acupuncture is that it gives the person an immediate state of calm and begins to balance the nervous system. In the United States, it is commonly used for pain in joints, neck, and back. A little fun fact about acupuncture is that it has also been used on animals and shown to provide the same type of relief as it does in humans.
This article has explored many different types of ways that you can center yourself when dealing with anxiety. While many of these are not cures for chronic anxiety, it helps alleviate many of the symptoms that come along with anxiety. What are some of your favorite ways to help your anxiety and are they any of the ones listed above? Let us know what your experiences and takeaways are.