When you get down to it, anxiety is just a form of fear. Whether it's worrying about your body, your future, or even that embarrassing thing you said two years ago—there are healthy tactics to quiet those voices and thus live a more mindful, present life. Imagine the brainpower you have tied up in self-doubt—it's practically endless. So to figure out the best way to keep it all together and stop sweating the small stuff, I spoke with healthy-living experts (from yoga teachers to doctors to integrative wellness coaches).
Below, find their best advice for keeping anxiety at bay.
Declutter Your Home and Work Space
Researchers, social archaeologists, anthropologists, consumer experts, sociologists, and economists worked on compiling data over a four-year period for a study at UCLA's Center on Everyday Lives and Families. The experiment explored the relationship between 32 California families and the thousands of objects in their homes.
"This was an opportunity to look at material culture and a household with people interacting with their stuff,” notes Anthony P. Graesch, an assistant professor in the department of anthropology at Connecticut College. "They found that clutter has a profound effect on our mood and self-esteem," adds Roshini Raj, MD, a gastroenterologist and core expert on The Dr. Oz Show.
In fact, one of the most notable findings is that "managing the volume of possessions was such a crushing problem in many homes that it actually elevated levels of stress hormones for mothers."
Take a Brisk Walk Outside
In a study published in the Journal of Ecopsychology, researchers at the University of Michigan found that walks "appear to mitigate the effects of stressful life events," says Raj. The physical activity had a positive effect on the mental well-being of those who participated.
Change location to change your perspective
Heather Peterson, CorePower Yoga's chief yoga officer, agrees: "Change location to change your perspective. Take a quick walk outside, and you'll immediately be able to look at your current situation differently."
Incorporate Probiotics Into Your Diet
"There is increasing research that shows the connection between gut health and mental health," explains Raj. "A clinical trial randomly assigned patients with major depressive disorder to receive either probiotic supplements or placebos. After eight weeks, patients who received the probiotic had significantly decreased scores on the Beck Depression Inventory, a widely used test to measure the severity of depression, compared with the placebo group. In addition, they had significant decreases in systemic inflammation, lower insulin levels, reduced insulin resistance, and a rise in glutathione, the body's master antioxidant."
Keep a Gratitude Journal
This will help you remember to express your gratitude to people or even to yourself. "In a 2015 study published in Emotion, participants received a note from a previously unacquainted peer that either contained an expression of gratitude or did not. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship," says Raj. Supportive relationships, romantic or otherwise, are a great way to keep your feelings of anxiety in check.
Practice Daily Meditation
"Try micro-mediation of pause and breath," suggests Peterson. "Take one minute to close your eyes and practice slow Ujjayi breathing. This technique calms you down, slows your responses, and gets you more oxygen when your breath is shallow." We're especially fond of the Headspace app for those new to meditating.
"Breathing is an involuntary response," says Amina AlTai, an integrative wellness coach and founder of modern mindfulness company, Undo. "But more often than not, we're doing it incorrectly—especially when we're stressed. Grab a chair or meditation cushion, and take a five-minute breathing break. Take a few deep breaths in and out, placing your hand over your stomach to notice the movement with the cadence of your breath."
Saxbe DE, Repetti R. No place like home: home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol. Pers Soc Psychol Bull. 2010;36(1):71–81. doi:10.1177/0146167209352864
Marselle MR, Irvine KN, Warber SL. Examining group walks in nature and multiple aspects of well-being: a large-scale study. Ecopsychology. 2014;6(3):134–147. doi:10.1089/eco.2014.0027
Smith J. The effects of probiotics on depression. Natural Health Research Institute. August 22, 2016.
Williams LA, Bartlett MY. Warm thanks: gratitude expression facilitates social affiliation in new relationships via perceived warmth. Emotion. 2015;15(1):1–5. doi:10.1037/emo0000017