Tools for Anxiety

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.” — Aesop

Stress and anxiety are partners in crime. They are like the joker and Harley Quinn. (Which one is which depends on the day.)

I typically experience anxiety when I haven’t slept well. When it’s allergy season, my sleep tends to nose dive. I try a lot of different sleep hacks and hygiene, but the biggest hammer for this kind of sleep anxiety is more rest.

I’ll take a short nap early in the afternoon (when I can), and (do my best to) go to bed earlier. I’m not a doctor, so don’t take my word for it. I think about it like this:

If 8 hours of sleep gets me say… 5 hours of quality sleep and 3 hours of poor sleep (guesstimating), then 9 or even 10 hours of sleep will help increase the number of quality hours I get. (Again—still not a doctor.) That means going to bed a little earlier and sleeping in a smidge.

I’m rambling. Essentially, prioritizing sleep comes first when I’m feeling anxious.

I’ll also feel anxious when I’ve got too much on my todo list. I know it. My list knows it. The day knows it. Your mother knows it. Everyone knows it but I still mentally get in my way by trying to tackle too much at one time. Obviously, the key is simplifying.

It’s helpful to think of everything around us as variables or small influences that we can manipulate towards a certain outcome. Anxiety can come from many things, but there are also factors in our lives—environment, habits, etc—that are either enabling or reducing our anxiety. By testing out certain levers, we can nudge ourselves towards a less stressful and anxiety-ridden environment.

Our two main methods of action for combating anxiety are adding and removing.

Examples of things we can add:

  • Support from doctors, therapists, and/or nutritionists.
  • Meditation
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Play
  • Healthy food

I also find it helpful to take Onnit’s New Mood Supplements and
Calm / Magnesium to relax my muscles.

Examples of things we can remove:

  • Less, or no caffeine
  • No smoking
  • Less, or no alcohol
  • “Stress”

The last bullet “Stress” is in quotations because I can’t tell you how many countless useless articles I’ve read about anxiety that tell you to “avoid stressful situations and environments.” Yeah! No kidding! That’s why I’m reading this stupid article in the first place. That’s why I find it easier to add things to my day than remove them (which explains my todo list.) “Stress” is so vague and idealistic. We’re usually stressed for a reason and that stress isn’t going to go away magically until we resolve that reason. But that doesn’t mean we can’t shift our perspective and change things by adding helpful habits and removing unhelpful ones.

For example, it’s easier to start meditation for 10 minutes every day than it is to find a new job. And it’s easier to swear off coffee after 3 PM than to completely overhaul your life. But that’s okay because there’s magic in these small habits.

It’s all about finding a way to tip the scales in the direction you want to go, instead of the one you don’t.

STAY BOLD, Keep Pursuing,
— Josh Waggoner | Daily Blog #1066

P.S. If you enjoyed this article, consider buying me a coffee ☕️.

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