Updated: Mar 3
Anxiety seems to be one of those topics that pop up everywhere, affecting many but talked about by few. At Full Circle Yoga School, our mission for the past 20 years has been to help our students learn techniques to heal from anxiety.
We've gone so far as to create an entire online course dedicated to anxiety relief! This 7 day transformation goes through many of the following topics in depth so you can get back to feeling more calm, peaceful and at home wherever you are. If you're serious about freeing your life from anxiety I encourage you to check it out. You can even try out the first video for free!
In this article, we’ll help you understand more about anxiety. You’ll learn why it happens and some tools you can use to help reduce it so you can live a brighter, more fulfilling life.
First off, why does anxiety occur? People who struggle with anxiety are commonly triggered by overthinking about the future. When you start to feel anxious, it’s because you’re coming up with stories about the future. The trouble begins when you start repeating these cycles of thought repeatedly. You begin to create neural pathways in your mind that believe these stories. Then you end up manifesting a scary future because those are the thoughts you are practicing all day long.
Fortunately, for the most part, things are OK in the now. Many of the techniques to reduce anxiety we will share with you today will help you get you out of your head, away from your negative thoughts, and into the present moment. There are steps you can take to eradicate anxiety, and we’re going to share some of our favorite techniques for you here.
Techniques To Reduce Anxiety
1. Become aware of your thoughts. One of the most critical methods of combating anxiety is first to notice when it starts to come up. When you feel yourself beginning to get anxious, simply become aware of your thoughts without too much judgment. It will help you understand what may have triggered your anxiety and determine if it is warranted.
2. Ask yourself, “Is this true?”. Most of the time, the answer is no. Once you’ve become aware of your thoughts, this question can help your mind from spiraling into deeper anxiety if you have a fearful thought.
3. If you start to feel the onset of anxiety, imagine bringing your relaxation down out of your head and into your heart. Since anxiety derives from overthinking about the future, it’s essential to get out of your head and into your heart. The heart is the space where you connect with the feeling of now.
4. What your eyes do, your body mirrors. Focus on relaxing your eyes, and your whole body will begin to relax.
5. Journaling is a powerful way to get anxious thoughts out of your head. The simple act of writing down your thoughts can help you to become grounded in the now and also see how unjustified your fearful thoughts are.
6. Walking meditation is excellent for those who find movement gets them out of their head. A walk in nature is a perfect way to bring yourself back to the present moment.
7. For those who seek stillness, seated meditation will give you space to become the observer of your thoughts as well as provide the opportunity to practice many of the following techniques.
8. Have you ever tried repeating something over and over again until you believe it? Mantras can help you do just that. Instead of filling your head with fearful thoughts, repeat positive affirmations whenever you start to feel anxious.
9. Body Scan Meditation is another quick way to reduce anxiety by getting out of your head and into the present. Start by bringing your awareness like a point to your head, then move your attention to different parts of your body such as shoulders, hands, chest, hips, legs, and feet. This anxiety exercise helps your brain realize there is nothing to fear, and you have everything you need right now.
10. Do you find yourself feeling anxious for the same reasons over and over again? It might be time to try Chakra Balancing. If you find yourself worried about your basic needs or your purpose in life, you may need to strengthen your root or sacral chakras. Trouble feeling love or power? Try boosting your heart and navel chakras. You can learn more about these sacred energy centers here.
11. One way to not only reduce anxiety but to reverse it is through visualization. Instead of becoming anxious through visualizing a scary future, envision a future that gets you excited. Picture it so clearly in your mind that you believe in your positive future more than a fearful one.
12. Many people go around with closed chests and shallow breathing. Shallow breathing creates tension throughout the body and constricts the lungs from functioning fully, which can make you more prone to anxiety. Practice deep breathing from the bottom of your lungs, through your chest, and expanding your ribs to maximize oxygen intake with full deep breaths.
13. Left nostril breathing helps kick on the parasympathetic nervous system and turn off the fight or flight response. Simply push your right nostril closed with your finger or thumb and breath deeply through your left nostril.
14. Alternate nostril breathing is similar to left nostril breathing, only alternating with each breath. This exercise helps to light up both sides of the brain and allows you to feel more clear-headed and in touch with your intuition instead of your fears.
15. 4-7-8 breathing is designed to help people fall asleep, and what’s more relaxing than falling asleep! For this exercise, breath in for 4 counts, hold for 7, then exhale for 8, and repeat. Don’t feel like you have to hold your breath for 7 seconds if it’s not comfortable, but think of it as something to work towards.
16. Kundalini yoga is terrific for those looking for a spiritual practice as well as a physical one. Here is a unique kundalini flow you can follow along if you’re starting to feel anxiety creeping in.
17. Hatha yoga works towards balance and uniting opposing opposites. This practice is best for those looking for a well-balanced class that strengthens both the mind and body.
18. Vinyasa yoga focuses on movement and stringing together of postures. It’s an invaluable tool for those who want to get out of their mind and into their body.
19. Yin yoga provides the perfect opportunity to slow down and get grounded in the present. This slow flow yoga style focuses on holding postures for an extended period, really allowing you to feel the benefits of the pose.
20. With so many fad diets out there, it can be hard to know what’s right for you and your body. Our simple take is to eat as fresh and colorful as you can. If your plate is all one color (for example, both hamburgers and fresh fries are brown), it’s probably not the healthiest option. Try switching it up for a colorful meal of fresh vegetables, fruits, and healthy grains.
21. Adequate sleep may still be one of the most underutilized wellness tools. Particularly in the West, there is a subliminal culture around perpetual lack of sleep and the need to always be busy. Create a nighttime routine where you slow down and prepare your mind and body for sleep. The mind does things that we still don’t fully understand during sleep, including processing information from the previous day. A well-rested mind is far less likely to experience chronic anxiety.
22. Work stress is undoubtedly a leading cause of anxiety. If you constantly worry about work while you’re out of the office, it might be time to set up some better work-life balance. Create clear boundaries like not checking email during the evenings or not bringing work home on the weekends. A healthy work-life balance can help you focus on the present moment and enjoy what’s in front of you, leading to less anxiety around the future.
23. Unhealthy relationships can also be a significant cause of anxiety for many. Though much easier said than done, you may need to take a hard look at the people in your life and actively choose if they are building you up or a source of your anxiety.
24. If you’ve ever felt lost or without a purpose, you’re not alone. Having goals and a purpose in life are some of the best ways to eliminate anxiety and fearful thoughts. Be sure to pick exciting goals that lift you up instead of ones based on stress and fear.
25. Just do it! You might not even realize it, but your anxiety may derive from procrastination. Consider if here’s an action you’ve been worried about taking and only haven’t done yet because of the fear surrounding it. Whether it’s the fear of failure, disappointing someone important to you, or flat out embarrassing yourself, it’s rarely as bad as you make it out in your head. So what are you waiting for… just do it! You’ll feel much better after you do.
Sometimes all you need to cure your anxiety is a change of perspective. Whether it’s a weekend vacation or a weeklong holiday, a wellness-centered retreat can do the mind and body immeasurable wonders. If you’re interested in shifting your perspective, we offer a wide range of wellness retreats. We encourage you to check them out here!
Have you battled with anxiety? What tools have you used to overcome it? Let us know in the comments!