Anxiety comes in all forms. Anxiety can range from crippling to feeling like you are wandering around in a fog. As an adult, most of us don’t have the freedom to completely pull back from life till we feel better. So how do we gently move forward without plowing ahead, acting like we are fine. What is the balancing between self-care and self-pity? I put together 10 ways to calm your anxious thoughts and have a productive day, which I hope will be of comfort to you. Be encouraged to care for yourself as you take positive steps forward today
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Some of my experience with anxiety seems to be part of my introspective personality as I spend a lot of time thinking and working through my emotions. But I have also experienced periods of anxiety when I was recovering from a traumatic event, in a job that was a horrible match for me and while I was recuperating from my heart attacks. So sometimes anxiety is just an annoyance and other times it is overwhelming.
10 Ways to Calm Your Anxious Thoughts and Have a Productive Day
Here are 10 ideas to push through that cloud of anxiety and get on solid ground for today.
Write Down Your To-Do List
Get some of your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. When our thoughts are not clear, it can feel like everything is urgent. Writing down what you think you should do can help you gain perspective on things. It can also enable you see that maybe you are trying to do too much.
Writing out your to do list can give you a plan for the day as you can see what might be the best thing on your list to attack first.
With my heart issues, I experience days when I really struggle to think clearly. My thoughts get jumbled. It takes me ten times longer to, for example, organize a meal list and trip to the grocery store. I hate those days. Writing down what needs to be done truly helps me grab onto a task and get it done, even if I’m not as organized as I might typically be. And though I dislike wasting time, I feel better that I am at least making progress
Pray or Meditate When You are Anxious
Praying or meditating allows you to slow down your racing thoughts. You cannot control everything in your life. And yes, that feels scary, but it also allows us to realize that it is not all up to us. We can only do what we are able to do.
Try to bring your best and then rest in that.
I love (read: need) to spend the first moments of the morning praying and focusing on what I know to be true.
When my son was around 3, I transitioned from being a flight attendant to working for the county Job and Family Services. I was thankful to make the change to be home every evening. But the job had the same hours every day with no flexibility. There was no natural light, and I was in front of the computer all day. And the people I did get to talk to were usually anxious or mad at me because they wanted more food stamps or medical help. The job was so draining.
Praying and believing that a new position was right around the corner enabled me to go into work each day, surviving a rough year.
Your job causing a lot of anxiety? Read some helpful ideas for finding the right job here.
Make Your Bed
What?? OK, hear me out. Making your bed or doing some simple household task accomplishes two things. One, routines can be comforting because they are familiar. And two, doing some basics to keep the household organized will help life feel less overwhelming.
Pick a simple task such as making your bed or cleaning the dishes out of the sink to perform. Even if your anxiety feels overwhelming most of us will still have the energy to complete a task that takes less than 15 minutes. And then every time you go past your bed you will see that your bed is made. Plus, when your anxiety starts to feel more under control, looking around the house won’t cause you to feel yuck again because you kept up with a few basic cleaning tasks.
Reach Out to a Friend when You Feel Overwhelmed
Let someone know if you are struggling. Don’t go days without reaching out to a friend. Isolating yourself can keep you trapped with just your thoughts.
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Yes, it is good to have time to work through your emotions and process what is causing you anxiety. But others can bring us comfort by encouraging us and giving us perspective on our situation. So balance alone time with making sure that you are allowing others to know that you really struggling right now.
Limit Your Caffeine to Cut Anxious Thoughts
A blogger, I follow, mentioned that she was limiting her caffeine, and it really helped her with her anxiety. I had never heard of that benefit. I try to limit caffeine as it makes me feel revved up and too much messes with my blood pressure.
But, I decided to take the challenge. I switched out my morning coffee for tea (during the week, I’m not totally crazy!:) and I was so glad I tried the experiment! It really was easier than I thought to make the switch and I experienced several benefits, including less anxious racing thoughts!
Cope by Doing Something for Someone Else
Be there for someone else. Get the focus off yourself by helping others. Chances are that someone you cross paths with today could use your encouragement.
When we are looking for others that could use a kind word, we forget about our troubles for a while. We also get the opportunity to bless another person.
If being around people feels exhausting, you could brighten a friend or neighbor’s day by running an errand for them, preparing some food or checking on their pets.
Treat yourself Kindly When You Feel Stressed and Overwhelmed
Be kind to yourself. No matter your budget or time limitation, you can still make time to do something for yourself. I love to stop mid morning and have a cup of tea.
What feels like a small leisure to you? Take 10 minutes to do something that you would enjoy that is restorative like journaling, breathing deeply, walking outside or reading. Don’t just tell yourself that you matter, act like it!
In a romantic relationship that is causing stress and anxiety? Read more here about warning signs of an abusive relationship.
Release the Ongoing Arguments or Negative Talk in Your Head
Stop robbing yourself of inner calm by continuing to replay past conversations or imagined future arguments. We can put ourselves on a downward spiral by playing over and over negative thoughts, keeping ourselves in a constant state of feeling angry or hurt.
Remind yourself of what you know is absolutely true and not just what you are imagining. It may also benefit you to think about what you can do. Can you respond differently to a problem in the future? Do you need to just let an offense go, for your own peace of mind. Perhaps its time to release a friendship or relationship that is not working.
Every time you start to fall back into replaying arguments, remind yourself that this is NOT benefiting you.
Give Yourself a Reason to be Excited
Join a challenge online, learn something new, or plan a small get together with friends. Life is so much better when you have something you are looking forward to doing.
I found challenges extremely helpful last year when I was recovering from my 3rd heart attack. They gave me a little boost in a couple of ways. It was fun to try something new. The challenge felt like a little “treat” I gave myself each day . I also enjoyed connecting with others online over a common theme. Challenges also kept me looking toward the future.
Get Your Pretty on Style Challenge was such a fun challenge. It helped me to streamline my wardrobe, have something pretty to wear everyday and experiment with color and new styles. I learned a ton that I continue to incorporate!
15 Days to a Healthier You through Money Saving Mom allowed me to take small steps each day to focus on my physical and mental health. The great Facebook community and videos enabled me to be more thorough about my journey .
Just Do the Next Thing is a Great Way to Calm Anxious Thoughts
Often our anxiety can be so overwhelming that we almost freeze. Don’t let your anxiety cripple you and cause you to do nothing.
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Look around you and just do the next thing that you see needs to be done. Don’t project too far out into the future. Just concentrate on the one task at hand.
In this fast paced world we live, life can get overwhelming. I hope that these 10 ways to calm your anxious thoughts and have a productive day have given you some tips to care for yourself when you are feeling stressed.
To further encourage you, I put together a cheat sheet of this post that you can print off and keep handy. Claim your FREE printable by clicking the button below for the Resource Library. Already in The Reluctant Cowgirl Family? You will receive an email with your link and password in your inbox this week so you can access the Resource Library:)
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So how have you survived a stressful period in your life? Are you in the midst of a challenging season in life, right now? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below?
I agree with the idea of making the bed, putting dishes away etc. I find that by accomplishing those small tasks it helps me to not feel overwhelmed by ALL of the things that need to be done. I have also been asking for more help from my family with the daily chores. My kids are old enough to help out with laundry, dishes , food prep etc. It has worked well and I don’t feel nearly as overwhelmed as before. It was hard to ask for help but I am glad that I did and it is good for the kids too.
What a great point. Yes, it is important to ask for help and allow others to share the load.
Heather Bee says
This post is so full of helpful advice and I love how your resource page has all these tips in list format. It really appeals to those of us who like things explained quickly and to the point; especially when anxiety rears up… I do find that waking up to a clean kitchen makes my outlook more positive, so I’ve always made sure to have that taken care of before going to bed.
Oh, I’m so glad you find the Resource Library helpful! I know sometimes I just need some ideas quick when I feel anxious thoughts rising up! Yes, I’m with ya. Nothing worse than stumbling to the kitchen in the morning to make one’s coffee or tea and realizing that your sink is still full of dishes! Yikes:)
Wow! Great post! All of your tips really speak to me. Some I am already doing, some I have used previously and forgot and lots of good new idea’s. I think the most important of all is to treat yourself kindly. Thank you for sharing!
Aww, thanks! Happy that I was able to share a couple new ideas:)
I completely understand what it is like to experience anxiety after a major health issue. At 30, I never imagined I would be sent to the ER experiencing stroke like symptoms. Turns out I had to have an adrenal gland removed with a hormone producing tumor removed. After that, I would have moments of complete panic over indigestion, aches and pains, etc. I have used many of your suggestions, and completely agree! Thank you for sharing.
It is life-changing when you experience a medical crisis. And I agree, it can be really heard right afterward to know what symptoms to worry about and what is normal! So glad you found the post helpful. Thanks for sharing some of your story!
I agree that making the bed or cleaning something is a great way to reduce anxiety. A messy house always makes me feel bad and a clean house always makes me feel peaceful and happy.
Yes, I always appreciate a clean house. I feel like I can “think” better:)
Great article and just what I needed for my day. I agree with so many of your points like doing familiar chores and spending time in prayer in the morning.
Thanks Michelle. Glad you found it helpful:)
Misty | Simple organized lifestyle says
Great tips to work on a healthy mind and body! My favorite is releasing the negative talk since it doesn’t do a bit of good, but easier said than done sometimes:] Thanks for sharing!
Releasing negative talk is hard work, isn’t it. I do seem to catch myself quicker now that I am more aware of it and the stress it can bring.