Learn how to deal with anxiety using 5 proven strategies including a breathing technique to help you fall asleep faster!
Download this podcast episode above or watch the show below!
Your heart is racing. Your stomach is burning. Your chest feels tight. It is hard to take a deep breath.
You have anxiety.
And you are not alone.
Everyone experiences anxiety to varying degrees.
In fact, at its best anxiety is a natural and even healthy human response – at times empowering the body to respond in a fight or flight situation.
The systemic release of adrenaline (epinephrine) elevates the heart rate, increases gastric acid, dilates the pupils, and grants the body the necessary surge of energy to respond in cases of emergency.
Under healthy circumstances, the body returns to its physiologic baseline over the next hour or so.
At its worst, anxiety can become a debilitating chronic condition that can result in a sustained state of increased adrenaline (elevated heart rate, chest tightness, acid reflux, etc) and systemic cortisol contributing to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, obesity, and even diabetes.
Anxiety is the number one mental health disorder in the U.S. with over 40 million adults reportedly diagnosed (ADAA, 2021).
Having worked in emergency medicine for over a decade, I am a firm believer in pharmaceutical treatment as a means to stabilize an emergent condition with the intent of treating the underlying cause, and ultimately, living free of preventative disease.
For some, maybe these holistic strategies will help to manage anxiety and prevent the need for pharmacological therapy.
For others, pharmacological intervention may be necessary to stabilize one’s mental health allowing for strategic implementation of these holistic techniques with the hope of being able to safely taper down prescription therapy while treating the underlying cause.
Use these 5 strategies to help you learn how to better manage your body’s stress response, and improve your mental health.
Be sure to read to the end for a technique that is excellent at reducing the body’s stress response to anxiety as well as helping you to fall asleep faster at night!
1. Cardio Endorphin Blast
You have heard it said that food is the most overused anti-anxiety drug and exercise is the most underutilized anti-depressant.
In my experience, it may be more accurate to say that food is the most overused anti-depressant and exercise the most underused anti-anxiety treatment.
To be clear, a cardio endorphin blast is not the same as “exercise,” per se.
A cardio endorphin blast is a high-intensity workout that sustains a targeted heart rate of >130 bpm for 20-30 mins in order to systemically release high levels of endorphins which in turn resembles the euphoric effects of narcotic drugs such as morphine.
Depending on your level of fitness and cardiac endurance a speedwalk may be enough to obtain this.
For others, it may require a higher intensity workout to sustain a heart rate >130 bpm for 20-30 minutes.
One way to maximize this strategy is to get a cardo endorphin blast BEFORE a known trigger (you should be journaling your triggers, BTW).
If you have been noting on your phone or in a journal the circumstances surrounding your anxiety, then you may be able to help prevent severe attacks by getting in a cardio endorphin blast before that known trigger.
Speed walk, run, elliptical, bike, treadmill, swim, HIIT – without significant breaks to keep the HR >130bpm for 20-30 minutes.
Check out these top-rated heart rate monitors on Amazon to help practice this strategy.
2. Maximize Deep Rem Sleep
Maximizing deep rem sleep as regards anxiety quickly yields way to a chicken versus egg type of conversation.
Many who struggle with anxiety often have difficulty sleeping well, but it is also true that when one routinely does not maximize enough deep rem sleep the likelihood of experiencing poor mental health increases as well.
How then does one improve sleep?
First, read this blog post on 13 Tips to Sleep Better at Night for lots of practical tips you can do starting tonight.
Second, be sure to read to the end of this post for the BEST technique to reduce anxiety and fall asleep faster! (I personally use this technique with great success).
3. Prioritize Phone-Free time.
There are many studies to suggest a strong correlation between the presence of one’s cell phone and depression/anxiety, and I have no doubt we will continue to see more.
Prioritizing phone-free time in your day is essential to optimizing emotional and mental well-being.
There are several ways to implement this strategy.
First, get it out of the bedroom.
If you use your cell as an alarm, then buy an old-fashioned alarm clock. Train your bedroom to be a place of quiet, stillness, and rest (kids and teens especially).
For tips on how to design a relaxing bedroom be sure to check out:
- 5 Ideas to Design a Relaxing Bedroom
- 5 Things Every Bedroom Needs for Winter
- 5 Cozy Bedroom Essentials for Kids
Second, put your phone in a different room for a set period of time each evening.
This can be especially hard to do when one’s job is virtual (such as mine), and I myself keep working at this strategy because I want the time with my kids each evening to be as free of a phone as possible.
Do what you need to do, and then put it away out of sight (your pocket does NOT count).
4. Establish an Early Morning Quiet Time.
There are so many benefits to establishing a consistent early morning routine, but one of the great benefits of this practice is learning how to still one’s mind.
Too often the first thing we start our day with is swiping open our phones which for many of us is like rolling out of bed only to step right into the door of school or work.
Instantly flooded with the overwhelming chaos of virtual information and psychological noise.
Practice starting the day without your phone for a set period of time and journal self-affirmations, things you are grateful for, read religious texts, pray – fill your mind first thing with calming truths instead of busy nothings.
Discover the many benefits of establishing an early morning routine here, and learn my 7 tips on how to start one yourself.
5. Utilize the 4-7-8 Breathing Method
The 4-7-8 Breathing Method is an excellent technique to decrease anxiety and fall asleep faster.
I personally use this breathing method with success and have encouraged many patients to do the same.
Pin the image below!
It is super easy and incredibly effective.
Have you tried any of these strategies in the past? Are they helpful?
Pin any of the images below for later, and shop this post.
As a parent, try to make it a family culture, trying to infuse routines in them. This is one of the challenges for parents is they want to help their kids get off their phone, but they can’t get off themselves. How do we parent our kids to do something that we ourselves have not even gotten a handle on?
Welcome to the imperfectly empowered podcast with DIY healthy lifestyle blogger on a former empower you to transform your life. One imperfect day at a time. Hello, and welcome back to another episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast. I am your host, Anna Fuller. Your heart is racing. Your stomach is burning.
Your chest feels tight. It is hard to take. A deep breath, you are struggling with anxiety and you are not alone. Anxiety is the number one mental health disorder in the United States with over 40 million adults reportedly diagnosed. That’s just the adults diagnosed, but here’s the important thing to understand before we even get into the.
Proven strategies that I am going to share with you to help deal with anxiety. One includes an incredible breathing technique that will also help you fall asleep faster. I want to highlight something really important that most people don’t talk about when they talk about anxiety. Anxiety at its best is a natural and even healthy human response.
Anxiety protects us. It is inherently God-given protective mechanism to stressors in our life, empowering the body to respond in a fight or flight situation. Let me give you an example. My clients have heard me give them this example, my fitness nutrition clients, when I was eight and a half months pregnant, we were at.
Father’s day pool party with our family, large family, lots of people around. And we had just all gotten out of the pool. I shouldn’t say I, I was dressed fully dressed. I had never even gotten in the pool, but my kids more importantly had all just gotten out of the pool. Caleb would have been two and a half at this point.
I even said, as we all got out of the pool, we need to watch Caleb because he would be the kid who would just walk right in . Everybody’s gathering around the food talking we might have been about to pray or something. I don’t even remember when I heard a splash and I instantly knew that was my son. I just knew that was my son that probably just walked into the pool.
And lo and behold, he had at two and a half just stepped right off the edge into the six foot deep end anxiety, the fight or flight response. Kicked in to my body, enabling my eight and a half, my nearly nine month pregnant self to instantly respond and jump in after him. There was nothing graceful about it.
There was no Swan diving. There was no like, you know, hero type of, there was nothing. Um, movie worthy about this jump into the pool. It’s more like a whale flopping into the pool, but the point is this, I was able to respond very, very quickly because of that fight or flight response that went on in my body.
I also think Zach’s uncle jumped in as well. I think there was two of us and I got him off the bottom where he was sinking very quickly to the bottom and I got him off and I am five foot three, so I couldn’t even stand. And I don’t float even when pregnant don’t know why. And I basically hauled him up to Zach’s uncle who had also jumped in as well.
What happens in this fight or flight response? Which is also what happens in anxiety. It is the same thing. It is the systemic release of adrenaline or epinephrine in the body. And what this does is it elevates the heart. Increases gastric acid dilates the pupils and grants, the body, this necessary surge of energy to respond in cases of emergency this fight or flight response under healthy circumstances.
Then the body returns to its physiologic baseline over the next hour or so in this case, again, being pregnant, it might have taken me a little bit longer. Eventually my heart rate went back to normal. I might have still probably had a little bit of abdominal cramping, not because of gastric acid, but because of the fact that I was only a couple weeks away from having Lily at the time.
But the point is I was able to return to a physiologic baseline. My heart rate returned to normal. I no longer had that surge of increased gastric acid. I wasn’t breathing too fast. My, um, body returned to baseline. Here’s the problem with chronic anxiety. At its worst anxiety can become a debilitating chronic condition that results in a sustained state of increased adrenaline.
Remember that adrenaline that initially kicked in and enabled me to save my son when that sense of fight or flight stress response adrenaline, when that level of adrenaline is slightly elevated all of the time causing don’t forget. Remember what I. Adrenaline elevates heart rate causes, chest tightness, feeling like it’s difficult to.
It can cause acid reflux because of that increase in gastric acid. So there’s a sustained state of increased adrenaline and systemic cortisol, which can contribute to high blood pressure, stomach ulcers, obesity, diabetes. The problem is physiologically what’s happening when you live in a chronic state of anxiety where there’s just this slightly elevated systemic.
Release of adrenaline and ultimately cortisol. It contributes to chronic medical conditions, which can also then consequently prevent fat loss. But I want you to understand that anxiety in and of itself is a natural human response and even protective. There’s nothing inherently wrong with anxiety, chronic anxiety.
However. Is a different story. Having worked in an emergency department for over a decade, I am a firm believer in pharmaceutical treatment as a means to stabilize an emergent condition. Right? If you come in with your blood pressure, so high, that you’re about to have a stroke. I am not going to simply suggest that you go home and start exercising more and eating less salt and more vegetables, right?
Because emergently speaking, you’re at the risk of having an acute stroke. So we need to offer some sort of pharmaceutical intervention to help stabilize the emergent condition with the end goal of treating the underlying cause. And ultimately. Living free of preventative disease. Why do I say that?
Because I’m about to offer you five proven holistic strategies, but in my world, I don’t believe that holistic strategies are mutually exclusive of traditional or pharmaceutical intervention. And I wanna make that very clear, but pharmaceutical intervention for the most part in more cases than. Is necessary to stabilize so that the underlying condition can be treated with the goal.
Then of course, slowly tapering the pharmaceutical intervention. For some, maybe these holistic strategies will help prevent the need for pharmaceutical intervention will help manage anxiety, but for others, pharmacological intervention may be necessary to stabilize one’s mental health, allowing for strategic implementation of these holistic techniques.
With the hope of being able to safely taper down prescription therapy. Or pharmaceuticals while treating the underlying cause it is important to me that I point that out. This is an integrative approach and again, everyone’s story is different, but I want to help equip you with these proven strategies and parents.
This needs to be shared with your kids, with your children. Make sure you listen the whole way to the end, because I’m gonna share with you a breathing technique that is excellent at not only reducing the body’s stress response to anxiety, but also to help you fall asleep faster at night. Tip number one is what I call a cardio endorphin blast.
Cardio endorphin blast. You have heard it said before all over Pinterest, there’s these little, you know, pins that say this cute quote. You’ve seen it probably on Twitter, or I don’t know, wherever you get your memes and quotes and inspiration or whatever. But it has been said before that food is the most overused anti-anxiety drug and exercise is the most underutilized antidepressant, however, I’m going to flip the script.
In my experience, it may be more accurate to say that food is the most overused, antidepressant and exercise, the most underused anti-anxiety treatment. Let me say that one more time. Food is the most overused, antidepressant and exercise is the most underused anti-anxiety treatment. To be clear, a cardio endorphin blast is not the same as exercise per se, but what it is is a high intensity workout that sustains a target heart rate of greater than 130 beats per minute, for 20 to 30 minutes in order to systemically release high levels of endorphins, which in turn resembles the euphoric effects of narcotic drugs.
For example, like morphine, it is a similar response in the. Depending on your level of fitness and cardiac endurance, a speed walk may be enough to obtain this. People hear when I say cardio endorphin blast, and they hear like high interval or high intensity workout, I should say. And, you know, a high trying to get a high heart rate and they feel kind of overwhelmed.
Like I’m just not in enough shape to be able to do. Understand this, the key is not necessarily the exact exercise that you are doing. The key is that sustained heart rate, because you want to improve your cardiac endurance. You want to actually help remodel your heart. People don’t think about the heart as a muscle, but it is literally one big muscle about the size of your fist.
When you are able to sustain that heart rate greater than 130 beats per minute with a high intensity workout, which for you might be a speed walk. This will help release those endorphins for others like myself. I am in good cardiovascular shape. A speed walk would probably not get my heart rate high enough for me, it might require a run.
I have personally used this strategy at some of the most stressful points in my life. And it works. I am telling you it works. I could be starting. I have to drag myself to get the run started. that’s the problem is you just gotta do it. You’ve gotta get it started. But the endorphin release is very real.
So again, remember it is sustaining a target heart rate of greater than 130 beats per minute for ideally 30 minutes, but 20 to 30 minutes, some is better than none of 20 minutes is all you’ve. That’s great. Do it. One way to maximize this strategy though, is to get ahead of the anxiety. This is something you will not hear people talk about, but this is a really, really effective way of trying to prevent the degree of anxiety that you know may be coming.
So I personally use it more, have used this strategy more when I am already anxious, I ran a lot when my best friend was dying of cancer and I was helping take care of her. This was. I mean, I just was so full of anxiety at that point and stress and grief and all of it. I ran, there were days that I ran twice a day because this was an anti-anxiety method for me.
But one way to utilize this is to actually get this cardio endorphin blastin, be for a known trigger. One of the ways to know your triggers is to be journaling, anxiety triggers, and you have to be in touch with your emotions. You have to have a clear sense. Ooh, I’m not feeling great right now. I’m getting that feeling like uncomfortable, right?
It’s an uncomfortable feeling. Heart rates up a little bit. It’s like an uncomfortable emotion. Ultimately creating this response. You should be journaling that keep track of that on your phone. Maybe it’s a person in your life, help your kids through this as. When, if you notice that they’re struggling with anxiety, you need to help them start thinking through.
When do you feel this way? One, you have to be willing to get in touch with your uncomfortable emotions. If you have not listened to the podcast with Dr. Shahan alibi, it is all about emotional intelligence and improving emotional illiteracy to better your mental health. We talk all about this. You need to learn to get comfortable with uncomfortable emotions.
It will improve your mental health. This is a great example of that start journaling. When you are feeling this emotional response that is resulting in anxiety, maybe you already know some of these triggers maybe are, maybe it’s like amp, Bessy, amp. Bessy is for whatever reason, just like an anxiety trigger in your life, but she’s also family and you’re gonna see her at Christmas.
You can’t help it. Right? You gotta see aunt Bessy at Christmas time. Get a cardio endorphin blastin before your family get together. I am telling you it will help. It does not necessarily mean the absence of any of those emotions or the anxiety that results, but it will help manage it, which is the goal.
Again, anxiety is a natural part of our human existence. Don’t misunderstand that anxiety is normal, natural, and even healthy and protective. The problem is you need to learn to manage it. So you’re not living with these elevated baselines of cortisol, adrenaline, et cetera. So get that cardio endorphin blastin.
Before you see aunt Bessy speed walk, run, elliptical bike treadmill, a swim, a hit workout. A 30 minute hit workout. Google it. Search on YouTube without significant breaks. You wanna try to keep that heart rate up a little bit over 130 beats per minute. Ideal. 20 to 30 minutes, a way of truly being able to track this is to get a heart rate monitor, like the heart rate monitor watches.
There are some really, really budget friendly ones on Amazon. Also great for your kids to practice as well. I would say like teens would be able to do this, or if they’re in sports and already, you know, running for 20 or 30 minutes a day, this is another really great way. To help them practice managing and reducing their anxiety to prevent a chronic state of anxiety, cardio endorphin blast.
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Accelerator course today and start your own transformation story. Proven strategy. Number two is maximizing deep REM sleep. Sleep is the body’s holistic reset button. Anybody who is hung out here with me has heard me say this before. Sleep is literally one of the best interventions that you can do for your body, improving your.
That you can possibly do for, for all aspects of human health, all of it, emotional, mental, physical, social, and spiritual sleep is huge. Maximizing deep REM sleep as regards. To anxiety quickly yields way to this like chicken versus egg type of conversation. Right? Many who struggle with anxiety often have difficulty sleeping well, but it is also true that when one routinely does not maximize deep REM sleep, the likelihood of experiencing anxiety and poor mental health increases as well.
So again, chicken, egg. Can be a little challenging, but the bottom line, how does one improve their sleep? There are multiple, multiple strategies. I did an entire podcast episode on 13 ways to sleep better at. There’s another great podcast that I did with a gut health expert. So just search gut health, and you’ll be able to hear that, you know, she shared a lot of ways that food can also be causing poor sleep at night.
I’m not gonna rehash, you know, the podcast episodes that I’ve already done, but I will share this one of the best ways to improve sleep at night. Is to go to bed and wake up approximately around the same time every night and day. I am better at waking up at the same time. I am not as good about going to bed at the same time.
I think that’s true for most of us, but scheduling and having your body on a consistent sleep wake cycle has been shown in the research to result in better. REM sleep then quantity of sleep. So the idea is you wanna maximize the, the human body still needs approximately eight hours, generally speaking, but improving your sleep is essential to your mental health.
Here’s the one other thing that I will add to sleep is that you need to avoid screen time, especially if that screen time involves social media or the news, you need to let your brain rest. We will talk about this more, but the point is screens are essential, especially depending on the information that you are putting in to your mind before bed, it is not the time.
I’ve also done a post on techniques to make your bedroom a relaxing retreat bedrooms should be relaxing. There’s like one recreational activity that should be happening in your bedroom. Probably don’t need to elaborate on that, but other. It should be used for sleep. Get the TV outta your bedroom. And then of course, don’t miss the technique at the end.
That will also help you fall asleep faster. But this leads into proven strategy. Number three, we are seeing more and more research around our phones as related to our mental health. You have heard this before. I am. I will not be the first one to tell you this, but my question for you is I’m telling it to you, but will you do anything about it?
Because here’s the issue. I remember working in the emergency department, how many moms would come in with their teens who had stomach problems and pain, everything was fine. Blood work. Cat scans, et cetera. And when you really dive into it, I’m sure the gut pain was more related to anxiety, possibly foods that they were eating, but also probably anxiety and their phones.
Same is true for parents. There are multiple studies now. Suggesting a very strong correlation between the presence, the mere presence of one cell phone and depression and anxiety. And I have no doubt. We will continue to see more prioritizing phone free time in your day is essential to optimizing emotional and mental wellbeing.
There are several ways to implement the strategy. Look for a phone free time app. It literally locks your phone. The app that I love the most is called lock my phone. I think in parentheses then after lock my phone, it says Zen mode for studying or something, lock my phone. It’s a free app. It will lock your phone.
You cannot get in unless you pay like $2 or something to open it early, lock my phone so that you can’t even get on. You can’t even get on. Figure out what time of day that you want this to happen? Lock your phone, lock your kid’s phone, help them get into this routine. As I mentioned before, get it out of the bedroom.
Do not sleep with your phone in your room. Even if you put it on sleep mode. Again, studies have shown simply having your phone around. It’s like a, it’s like a trigger. It’s like a stress trigger. If you use your cell phone as an alarm, people buy an old fashioned alarm clock, train your bedroom to be a place of quiet stillness and rest parents.
Again, cannot reiterate this enough for your teens and your kids. You are the parent, get the phone out of their room. One of the other things, you know, to point out here, When you are considering this phone free time as a parent, try to make it a family culture, trying to infuse routines in them. This is one of the challenges for parents is they want to help their kids get off their phone, but they can’t get off it themselves.
Right. How do we parent our kids to do something that we ourselves have not even gotten a handle? So try if you’re motivated to help your kids get off your phone, use that as an opportunity to practice it yourself. And as a family practice phone, free time, this can be especially hard to do in one’s job as virtual like mine and I myself have to keep working at the strategy because I want the time with my kids to be as free of a phone as possible.
Do what you need to do, put it away out of sight. Your pocket does not count by the way, like out away, away from your person, proven strategy. Number four. Second to the last strategy, which is this breathing technique. This is without a doubt, one of the most effective strategies for managing anxiety long term.
And I’ll explain how establishing an early morning routine and as part of that routine, incorporating a quiet time. Reflection time, a devotional time, whatever verbiage you want to give to it. There are so many benefits to establishing a consistent early morning routine, but one of the great benefits of this practice is learning how to still one’s mind.
Remember that I mentioned that app lock my phone. I’ll tell you how I even know about that app because I have spent years honing and establishing an early morning routine. I am not an early morning person by nature at. And I won’t go into this. Now I did a whole podcast on seven tips to establish an early morning routine, but I had to force myself to become an early morning person.
And it’s life changing. It is life giving. There’s a lot of research around early morning routines as well. It increases productivity general sense of happiness in life. But one of the things that is life-changing about establishing an early morning routine is learning the art of stealing one’s mind.
Here’s an example too often. The first thing we start our day with is swiping, open our phones, but this in today’s society, this is equivalent to basically rolling out of bed and stepping right into the door of work or right into the door of school or right into the door of the newsroom. We are instantly flooded with the overwhelming chaos of virtual information, which translates into psychological noise.
We are instantly filled with multiple narratives. As soon as we swipe open our phone. I have started using the lock my phone app because my downfall is, as soon as I open my phone in the morning, I see emails that I need to respond to. And the like productive part of me is like, well, let’s just knock this out right now, but no, this needs to be my quiet time where I am reading my Bible.
I am praying there’s other ways to do this. But practice starting the day without your phone for a set period of time. And you know, maybe you’re not reading a Bible or devotional, but there is so much good evidence surrounding the practice of journaling gratitude, such as a simple way of doing this writing down one anxiety that you have piece of paper, by the way, not on your phone, not on your laptop, old fashioned piece of paper.
Writing down. What is one fear? What is one anxiety? Just one. You don’t have to write the whole list again. This is gonna be an every morning kind of a thing. You don’t have to write a massive list. It does not need to take long. What is one thing that maybe kept you awake the night before? The one primary thing?
Write it down, give it space to exist in one word. How did that make you feel? I will give you an example of exactly what I wrote. I think this was yesterday. I am anxious about finding and buying our forever property. We’re currently living in a rental house. I am anxious about finding and buying our forever property.
So that could just simply say, where is the one thing that you’re anxious about finding our forever property? And then how does it make you feel? What is the emotion? What is the uncomfortable emotion that is ultimately at the heart of that mental worrying anxiety? For me, realistically. I think it’s the emotion of being out of control, which can lead to fear uncertainty.
But then what you do is you don’t end there, but you give the uncomfortable emotions that you’re feeling, the worry that is in your head, the anxiety, and you’re giving it a space to exist. People do the. And we try to put it out of our minds. What is actually making us anxious? We try to bur so that we don’t think about it, therefore making us more anxious.
But the reality is it is proven to be more effective to acknowledge what it is that is making you anxious speaking it. It’s the whole it’s that whole adage like name it to tame it. You probably have heard that phrase too. It’s that idea that in order to tame that feeling of anxiety and whatever it is that is making you anxious and resulting in an uncomfortable emotion, it is better to give it space to exist and acknowledge it, write it down.
Look at it. And you might be surprised at how you’re like, oh, Hmm. That has no power over me because here’s what you’re gonna do. Next. You are going to cover it with three things that you’re grateful for three things. If I asked you right now, tell me three things that you’re grateful for. Here’s what a lot of you will do.
My kids, my health, my house, my freedom Uhuh, or you’ll sit for a while and you’ll have to think about. You guys, you need to learn to see gratitude in the littlest of things. I am telling you, it will completely change your entire approach to anxiety. I experience anxiety just like anybody else, but I have practiced this without even knowing that it was a thing for quite a few years.
And it is this, it is taking a high level overview, a high level perspective, looking at the big picture, but also naming the little things that you are grateful for, because it could always be worse it could always be worse. That sounds really negative, but the reality is it’s actually a gratitude practice.
It could be worse. At least I have running water. Pivoting toilet paper holders. I don’t know why I’m extremely grateful for them. I’m sorry. It is the most annoying thing in the world to replace. Like you have to do the little spring thing and then it flies off of the toilet paper holder and like smashes up against the wall and you’re on the toilet and you can’t go get the stupid spring thing that just flew off, like the little pivoting ones that just pivot up.
You set that role on life changing. I’m grateful for those I’m grateful forever invented them. coffee, electricity. Homemade ice tea, the list goes on and on literally you just simply write down three things, anything that comes to mind from the day before, write it down, cover that fear, that anxiety, that worry, that uncomfortable emotion that is resulting in this narrative in your mind, that is building up to this chronic state of anxiety, acknowledge it, give it space, and then instantly cover it with three things that you’re grateful for.
The littlest of things. Gratitude practices get in the habit of it. Fill your mind. First thing with calming truths instead of busy nothings, fill your mind. First thing in the morning with calming truths instead of busy nothings again, I shared seven tips to establish an early morning routine in a different podcast blog post.
Be sure to check it out. It is one of the most life changing practices, especially when you incorporate that practice of gratitude and giving space to your anxiety and the uncomfortable emotions that are behind it. Okay. Proven strategy number five. I don’t remember where it was that I read this or learned about it.
I kind of think it was in my second master’s when I was in my family nurse practitioner program, I worked with an integrative nurse practitioner. She was absolutely amazing. And I kind of feel like this is when I first learned of it, but it’s called the 4, 7, 8 breathing method. It is an excellent technique to not only decrease your response to anxiety, your body’s response.
It is also very effective at helping you fall asleep faster. You still have to put in all the other practices to make your bedroom a place of relaxation, but this is a great technique. I’ve encouraged many patients to use this over the years. If you are watching. This on YouTube, you can take a screenshot of this instruction sheet.
It’s gonna come up on the screen. You can take a screenshot of it, or you can visit the show notes for a principal instruction sheet. So this is a great place to hang on a mirror for one of your children. If they struggle with anxiety, if they struggle at night to simply just have on your fridge wherever you feel like you need it again, it’s very easy to remember, but this is ultimately what you.
One, you wanna completely exhale. You almost made like a wooing sound and completely exhale the whole way. And then for four seconds, you are going to slowly breathe in your nose with your mouth closed like this, and then you hold for seven again on the video. You can see me doing this and I’m using my fingers to count, but you breathe in for four.
1, 2, 3, 4 mouth closing in your nose, then you hold for seven and then you slowly breathe out through pursed lips for eight. Now I’m able to breathe out for a lot longer through per slips for longer than eight seconds. That is fine. Keep going. The idea is that you want to slowly fill your lungs with air.
You hold it. This is, uh, I mean, there’s kind of a vague nerve response. That’s happening if you really care about the physiological details, but it’s ultimately like a nerve response. That’s helping everything sort of slow down. It’s like a vagal nerve. And then you just slowly blow out. I can usually blow out for longer than eight.
I don’t stop blowing out at eight. I just let it all slowly breathe out slowly. Let all the air out through purse lips, and then you can repeat as needed again, fully exhale, and then slowly in for four hold for seven slowly out through purse lip. For eight. I have worked with my oldest daughter is nine and she is a night owl.
She has a very hard time falling asleep and she has, she already has friends who take medicine to help them sleep at night. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but I’m already proactively trying to help her learn these strategies to fall asleep because physiologically speaking, if you start medicine now, it’s very hard to get off of it.
It’s very hard and your body gets used to it. So try to work with your kids. With these practices, we will do the breathing technique together. She now does do it on her own, but you, again, you’ve gotta put other things into place. Totally dark room. Keep it on the cooler side. Anyways, there’s so many strategies to falling asleep better and sleeping better because of the environment in your bedroom.
I’ve already addressed that in different podcast, but I would love to know, have you tried any of these strategies? I know some of you have messaged me over the last couple years as I’ve shared these with clients and on Instagram. And I’m so grateful when you guys give me your feedback. I had a client the other day say, oh, my word.
I tried your 4 78 breathing method. It’s not my method, but you know what I mean? I tried that method and I couldn’t believe how well it worked. So I love hearing that, drop it in the comments. If you’ve used any of these strategies in the past, do you have tips as well that you have learned that have worked really well for you?
Again, anxiety. At its best is healthy. It’s natural. It’s protective at its worst. It can be debilitating. I hope these strategies help you learn how to deal with anxiety, how to manage it better so that you can thrive. Thanks for listening to this episode of the imperfectly empowered podcast, I would love to hear your.
From today, head to your preferred podcasting platform and give the show an honest review and let me know what you think. Remember, you cannot be redefined only redeveloped one imperfect day at a time. Your story matters and you are loved.