You open your eyes with a start. It's the 1,567th time you’ve awakened for the past 6 hours of ‘sleep.’ Your anxious thoughts are gaining momentum; you’re caught in the eye of the storm, overthinking every single one of your life decisions: from your career path to your choice of a home loan provider. Worrying can be useful sometimes. It can help you stay motivated and plan for the future. Unfortunately, anxiety is bad more often than not, particularly if it keeps you wide-awake at night and harms your health.
What can you do about it? Here are a few simple ways to keep your worries under control and (finally) get a good night’s rest.
#1 – Learn and practice relaxation techniques
Your muscles tense, your heart pounds, and your breathing quickens. This is known as the ‘stress response’–a normal reaction to threatening situations, which goes back to our ancestors' need to flee from dangerous situations quickly. But what if your mind is the threat itself? This is where relaxation techniques come in. They help you evoke the ‘relaxation response’ (i.e. the opposite of the ‘stress response’). Try the following:
- Deep breathing
- Mindfulness meditation
- Body scan
- Guided imagery
#2 – Make time for physical activity
Research shows that physical activity reduces your levels of stress hormones–including adrenaline and cortisol–and stimulates the production of endorphins (i.e. your body’s natural painkillers and mood elevators) at the same time. Plus, exercise can help you achieve a deeper state of sleep at night, effectively cutting down on the amount of time you can spend worrying!
#3 – Learn to distinguish between solvable and unsolvable worries
Ask yourself: “Is this a problem I have control over?” If you do, chart a plan of action. Let’s say you’re worried about your finances. Start by looking at your monthly expenditure. Are there areas you could trim? Or, are there ways you could increase your income (e.g. side hustles)? But what if you’re anxious about an unsolvable worry? Well, that’s where relaxation techniques come in.
#4 – Schedule time to worry
Individuals who schedule a time to worry often experience a significant decrease in anxiety (plus an improvement in sleep quality) in just 2 to 4 weeks. Try it out yourself! Designate 30 minutes every day where you can think about your problems. During this 'worry period,' you can worry as much as you like–going down and exploring the mental rabbit holes your mind loves to create. But remember: always stick to the time limit!
#5 – Keep a worry journal
Committing your anxious thoughts to paper might feel like you're adding fuel to the fire. But research shows that it has the opposite effect: those who journal about their worries experience less anxiety and are calmer in general. Besides, writing all your problems down can help you gain a more balanced perspective; you’re now able to give the list a thorough look-over and challenge your anxious thoughts.
Can’t wait to put these tips into action–but find that you haven’t got a daily routine set? Don’t worry (!), we’ve got you covered with The Daily Routine Journal. It guides you through the process of structuring your day so you have enough time to pen down all your anxious thoughts while remaining highly productive at the same time. Check out how others have become much calmer versions of themselves here.