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5 Ways to Combat Anxiety Besides Yoga

Anxiety is something that the vast majority of us have dealt with at some point in our lives. According to the Anxiety Disorders Association of America, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US, affecting 18% of the population, and are more common in women than men.
A large percentage of those with anxiety disorders are left undiagnosed and untreated. Different therapies and solutions will work for different people, but what about the more minor, day-to-day anxiety that is so prevalent in our society?
There are many causes for this increase in anxiety. At the core of it, the most important thing is to find ways to drop the tension and stress, and find a way to live with more ease and grace. Yoga is a beautiful tool to practice just this, but sometimes we need a little bit of extra support.

Here are five ways to help combat anxiety on a day-to-day basis when you’re not on your yoga mat:


1. Establish a Morning Ritual

One of the most useful things that I have experienced on my journey to reduce the amount of anxiety in my life has been to incorporate some kind of morning practice into my first moments of being awake.
Starting your morning slow sets you up for a calmer, more focused day rather than running out of bed, into the shower and out the door frazzled, undernourished and already stressed.
A beautiful thing to do upon waking is to sit up slowly, set a timer for 5-10 minutes, and allow your attention to slowly tune back into your breath. It is incredible how over time such a simple practice can transform your mood and day. If the deep breathing evolves into some sort of gentle movement, that’s great too.
Start setting your alarm earlier than usual so you can enjoy the rest of your morning at a slower, more enjoyable pace.

2. Alternate Nostril Breathing

If you find yourself spiraling into panic, alternate nostril breathing can be a sanity saviour. This easy practice has helped me over the years, and everyone I have suggested it to has found it to be incredibly practical in its instant calming effects.
Here’s how to do it:

  • Start by curling down your “peace fingers” (index and middle) on your right hand so just your thumb, ring and pinkie finger are pointing up. Place your two fingers on your left nostril and your thumb on your right nostril.
  • Start by releasing the thumb and taking a long 4 count inhale.
  • At the top, gently close off both nostrils and hold the air in for 4 long counts.
  • Release your two fingers and exhale the air out the left side.
  • Inhale through the left, hold, exhale through the right. Inhale through right, hold, exhale through left . . . and repeat, inhaling through the side you exhaled on.

This practice is extremely beneficial as it acts as a reset button for the nervous system, getting your entire body and mind to a calmer, clearer state.
Recommended Read: Alternate Nostril Breathing: Learn How To Breathe Your Way Into a State of Peace

3. Magnesium

Our bodies deal with all kinds of stressors in the same way, whether we are being chased by a tiger or stuck in traffic. When we are under stress, our brains signal our adrenal glands to release stress hormones epinephrine and cortisol.
Our adrenal glands are endocrine glands located above the kidneys, responsible for producing the hormones that regulate our “fight or flight” response. Magnesium functions in many different ways throughout the body to regulate the release of stress hormones and relax the central nervous system. Additionally, when we are under stress, magnesium is lost through the urine.
Lower magnesium levels lead to a body that’s more reactive to stress, leading to increased levels of stress hormones in stressful situations. Thus, from a biological standpoint, magnesium is the ultimate “chill pill.” Increasing foods high in magnesium in your diet – such as brown rice, spinach, almonds and bananas – as well as supplementing with magnesium can do wonders for your ability to handle stress.
A daily dosage can be spread out throughout the day, or taken at night to aid in a restful sleep. When looking for supplements, keep your eye out for magnesium glycinate as it is the most bioavailable form, meaning your body will get the most out of it.


4. Take Tech Breaks and Get Outside

Most people I know sleep with their phones right next to their bed. Their electronics are the first thing they see when they wake up, and the last thing they see before they go to sleep.
So much research has come out saying that smartphones increase stress and anxiety, reduce restful sleep, and that increased social media leads to decreased overall happiness.
On the flip side, the exact opposite is true for getting outside and getting some vitamin N(ature)! But you don’t have to give up your phone and leave the city and live in a cabin in the woods to reap the benefits. Set realistic goals for yourself such as Sundays without your phone, being tech free after 8pm, or even limiting the amount of times you allow yourself to check social media each day.

So much research has come out saying that smartphones increase stress and anxiety, reduce restful sleep, and that increased social media leads to decreased overall happiness.

Choose to bike to work instead of driving, spend lunch breaks at a nearby park or plan a day trip once a month to whatever beautiful nature you have nearby. Simple changes can go a long way to reducing overall stress and anxiety and promoting overall wellbeing.

5. Examine Your Relationships

When it comes to anxiety, when we begin to tune inward and examine the situations in which we are more anxious, we often confront painful truths. The fact is, certain people and relationships can end up causing more harm than good.
Take time to examine your relationships. Connect with how you feel when you are around someone. Take a few deep breaths and tune back inward. Does this person make you feel anxious? Does this relationship cause you stress?
People are often just mirrors, and an intolerance to something in them is often an intolerance to something in ourselves. However, it is important to take the time to really examine if this friend or partner is giving you joy or not. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled in all areas of your life. Know when it is time to let go.
Whatever level of anxiety you are dealing with in your life, may these strategies help you find your most radiant state – relaxed, clear and at ease. Remember that like yoga, this is a daily practice. May you have the patience with yourself to heal day by day, and the grace to reach out for support when needed.

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Annabelle Blythe

Annabelle is a holistic nutritionist, coach, yoga teacher and non-fiction writer. Annabelle’s mission is to empower people to be their own healers, mastering both their physical and emotional well being. She practices what she preaches, living with her heart wide open. You can find her on Instagram and Facebook or visit her on her website

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