Apply - Other Simple Anxiety-Managing Hacks

Four Scents Team

Little things can help a lot


As well as practical and re-wiring methods, there are little things that can be done to help with life’s challenges…
    Girl with broom dancing in living room to represent movement


Modern life has it so that the cast majority of us spend much of the day seated at a desk, so by the end of the day you typically feel mentally fatigued while the body is not. It’s well-known that exercise is great at combatting anxiety. When the stereotypical picture of exercise fills you with further anxiety, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be all-consuming. Small amounts of movement have been shown to significantly reduce anxiety. What kind of movement do you enjoy? Is it a walk outside, dancing around the living room, or lifting something heavy to channel the day’s annoyances? Finding a form of movement that’s realistic and sustainable and fitting it in consistently works wonders.
     Woman taking a break from phone looking at book to represent practicing pausing

Practicing Pausing

When we’re triggered, this happens in the amygdala part of the brain, activating our stress response (fight/flight/freeze). We’re wired this way as a self-preservation mechanism to protect us from injury, with the duration of this response averaging around 20 minutes. When you find yourself triggered, practice the pause for 20 minutes. This doesn’t mean to stop entirely, but to slow down. Avoid any big decisions, phone calls, messaging or social media in the timeframe, and focus on a mundane, repetitive task (such as washing the dishes). This helps you to reset your emotions and avoids any reactions that further compound the situation. Stopping and shaking the body as soon as is safely possible after a shock, such as a near-miss, is a helpful to release built up adrenaline and restore the body to its relaxed baseline.
    Wooden sign saying 'grateful'


A reliable practice to expand the outlook and shift the mood. It counters imperfect conditions, and the constant messaging that we’re never enough. Our brains function on the focus of lack to help us survive. Though this may have kept our ancestors alive, generally we don’t need to give it the same space today. Far from invalidating fearful or upsetting situations, gratitude helps us to find abundance in the harder moments. The simplest practice is to verbalise or write three things you’re grateful for each day. Whatever your day has looked like, it gives you the opportunity to focus on the good. This, with time, helps us to form new pathways in the brain, including the part of that is involved in mood regulation and resilience.
     Smiling woman


It can really be that simple! Smiling relaxes the facial muscles, causing the release of mood-boosting endorphins dopamine and serotonin. This leads to feelings of happiness, lowering the heart rate and blood pressure. There have been studies that have looked into the long-term benefits, smiling reliably predicting the level of wellbeing, how fulfilled you feel and even life expectancy! Smiling crosses cultures and is a key element in building rapport with others, as we naturally warm to people who smile. It’s literally contagious, prompting others around you to smile – a virtuous circle that benefits others as much as you. On average, children smile up to 400 times a day, while adults average at 20. How about increasing the average and see what happens?
    Motivational message in diary

And Finally...

When all is said and done, anxiety and stress serve as warning signals to us. The key is to, rather than supress or ignore them, be curious and ask what these signals are telling us? With a few strategies and practices, we can embrace the wholeness of life and find better ways to manage the challenges. The most important thing to remember is that you’re not broken and need to be fixed, but a whole person who has the tools to thrive if you tap into them!
References: The Anatomy of Anxiety by Dr. Ellen Vora, Flourish: A Year of Living Well (Iceberg Press)



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