If you’ve been struggling with anxiety, you’re not alone. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, an estimated 31% of all adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life.
Anxiety is defined as the body’s response to worry and fear, but the reality is that it’s much more complicated than that.
Anxiety is not the same thing as having the occasional worry – like when you have to give a presentation or wait for test results. It’s a constant struggle inside your mind, where even small problems spiral out of control and every negative outcome seems possible.
When you get stuck inside “anxious brain,” you can’t focus on anything else – not school, not work, not talking with friends.
For many, this can have a devastating impact and can make it harder to leave your house, cope with stress, or even get out of bed.
On top of that, anxiety doesn’t only affect your mind. It can present in your body as stomachaches, headaches, diarrhea, itchiness, and insomnia. These challenges can cause additional worry, creating a hamster wheel effect that can compound feelings of anxiety.
If you’re on the hamster wheel, it can feel like there’s no way to get those swirling worries to stop.
But fortunately, there are simple things you can do right now to help calm your mind, soothe your worries, and take back control of your day.
5 Proven Ways to Calm Your Anxious Mind
When anxiety runs high, it can be hard to even remember that there are ways to stop the spiraling thoughts from taking over your day. Keep this list on hand so you always have reminders of the steps you can take to calm your mind and body.
1. Practice proven relaxation techniques
When you need to settle your mind quickly, any of these proven relaxation methods can get the job done. Get familiar with all of them so you can quickly turn to the technique that best fits your situation.
- Mindful meditation: Mindful meditation can help you focus your mind and regain control of your swirling thoughts. Not sure how to get started? Check out the guide to easy beginner meditation on Mindful.org
- Breathing: Taking deep, controlled breaths will have an instantly calming effect on your anxious mind. Simply pay attention to your breathing and slow it down – that’s all it takes to see results. Breathe slowly in through your nose, and then out through your mouth. (If possible, try breathing out for a longer duration than breathing in.)
- Aromatherapy: Many essential oils have proven calming effects. Inhaling specific essential oils can reduce anxiety even in the most stressful situations, as long as you use calming scents. Aromatherapy oils known for their anti-anxiety effects include lavender, chamomile, ylang ylang, and mandarin.
2. Exercise – especially outdoors
Moving your body can help calm anxiety from the outside in. Exercise helps relieve tension in your muscles, and that in turn helps calm down your nervous system. Other ways exercise helps reduce anxiety include:
- Increasing your supply of feel-good neurotransmitters (brain chemicals)
- Tapping into your endocannabinoid system, which helps calm your mind and boost your mood
- Relaxing the part of your brain (your amygdala) that reacts when you feel threatened
And when you exercise outdoors in a natural setting, it adds an extra dimension of anti-anxiety benefits. Researchers have found that walking in a wooded area – sometimes referred to as “forest bathing” lowers the production of anxiety-inducing stress hormones and helps engage the calm-down part of your nervous system.
3. Choose calming foods
When you’re feeling anxious, you may turn toward comfort foods. And while they may offer a level of perceived comfort, they won’t have the same anti-anxiety effects as calming foods do. Calming foods contain specific nutrients such as zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids that help to reduce anxiety.
Foods that can help tame your mood include:
- Dark chocolate
Sugary foods, which can feel comforting, actually increase anxiety levels… so try to minimize your sugar intake when you’re already feeling anxious.
4. Get restorative sleep
Anxiety and insomnia can exist in a loop: Being anxious makes it harder to sleep, and lack of sleep makes you more anxious. Breaking out of this destructive cycle takes restorative sleep – meaning your body goes through all five sleep stages without interruption.
The sleep stage known as NREM (non-rapid eye movement) soothes your overactive brain, giving it the opportunity to rest and revitalize.
Of course, this begs the question: How can you fall asleep – and stay asleep – when your brain is anxious? Try these tips to improve your chances of achieving good night’s sleep:
- Use the relaxation techniques we talked about above
- Create a sleep routine and follow it every night (go to bed at the same time, etc)
- Keep your sleeping area cool (optimal sleep temperature is between 60 and 68 degrees)
- Keep your sleeping area dark (as in: “can’t see your hand in front of your face” dark)
- Remove all electronics from your sleeping area
- Impose a “no screen time” rule at least 1 hour before bedtime
5. Improve your gut health
It may surprise you to know that your gut health has an enormous impact on your anxiety – much more than many people realize.
Your gut microbiome contains trillions of bacteria, both beneficial (probiotics) and harmful (pathogens). When your gut microbiome is in healthy balance, probiotic bacteria vastly outnumber pathogens – and those probiotics help ease and prevent anxiety in some important ways:
- They produce feel-better neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) including GABA and serotonin that can help you relax
- They calm inflammation, which can increase anxiety
- They help lower cortisol (the stress hormone) levels, which makes it easier for the body to handle stress
When the gut microbiome falls out of balance – a condition called dysbiosis – pathogens outnumber probiotics. That leads to lower levels of those important neurotransmitters, and higher levels of inflammatory compounds and stress hormones.
On top of that, dysbiosis can harm your gut barrier – the important “gatekeeper” that locks pathogens and toxins in your gut so they can’t escape into your bloodstream. A damaged gut barrier can lead to a condition known as leaky gut. And studies show that leaky gut can cause or worsen your anxiety.
You can see why your gut health is crucial for feeling your best and managing your mood. That’s why it’s so important to support your gut barrier and keep your gut microbiome in healthy balance. To do that, you need a complete gut support team that includes:
- Spore probiotics, the only form of probiotics that reach your gut 100% alive and ready to work
- Smart prebiotics, specially designed to nourish only beneficial bacteria
- Whole food antioxidants, which provide protection to the gut barrier and encourage probiotic bacteria to flourish
- Citrus polyphenols, which promote healthy gut barrier function
- 4 specific amino acids (L-proline, L-serine, L-cysteine, and L-threonine) that provide the building blocks for a strong, thick gut barrier
This cast of gut-supporting players work together synergistically to nurture your gut barrier and microbiome. And a well-balanced, healthy gut can help create the conditions for ease and calm to permeate your life.
Sustain Your Gut Health – and Your Calm – with the Just Thrive Complete Gut Support Team
Your gut health plays a key role in your overall wellness… and that includes your mental health. You can maintain healthy balance in your gut microbiome and fortify your protective gut barrier with the Just Thrive Complete Gut Support Team.
The Just Thrive Complete Gut Support Team includes:
- Just Thrive Spore Probiotics
- Just Thrive Precision PREbiotic
Gut 4-tify, a healthy gut barrier formula that contains
- 4 key amino acids: L-proline, L-serine, L-cysteine, L-threonine
- A concentrated blend of whole-food antioxidants
- Citrus polyphenols
Keep your gut healthy, calm, and happy with the Just Thrive Complete Gut Support Team.