When a person suffers from anxiety it can feel like all hope has left the world. Its just you and your whirling mind, telling you terrible and usually false things. A panic attack is even worse. For those endless moments it can feel like you are dying, even though it is all an illusion of the mind and nervous system.

It can take time and effort to create new patterns, especially if always anxious has been your modus operandi for a while. Here are a few ways to release anxiety and begin to enjoy life more fully.

1. Learn Deep Breathing Exercises

I know we say this a lot around these parts, but really it all comes back to the breath. Stress is a manifestation of shallow breathing. Shallow, quick breaths activate the sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight response designed to keep us alive in a dangerous world. But if we suffer from anxiety, the world is rarely as dangerous as our minds make it out to be.

Deep, full body breathing that involves the belly calms the sympathetic nervous system and activates the para-sympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest function. When you feel overwhelmed, or anytime really, breathe as deeply and fully as possible.

2. Meditate Daily

Anxiety is often caused by nebulous fears about the future, which usually have no basis on reality. Even if some awful thing is possible, being anxious about it actually reduces our ability to meet challenges effectively.

Meditation, on the other hand, increases our ability to ride the waves of life with grace and ease. Studies show that people who meditate daily for at least 15 minutes experience a substantial reduction in anxiety and panic attacks. Meditation can help us see what is actually causing the anxiety, and hopefully move out of those all-too-familiar mental loops.

Now, dont make yourself more anxious trying to squeeze another thing into your schedule, but do sit with yourself, breathe deeply, and focus your mind on the present moment whenever you can. If you are new to meditation, try out a group meditation class or play a guided meditation CD, mp3, podcast, or other recording to learn techniques that can help you focus your mind.

3. Practice Yoga

Practicing Yoga cultivates awareness of the body and the ability to be present while we are performing an action. This is a vital skill that can be applied to every aspect of life, including releasing anxiety.

4. Exercise Several Times a Week

Moderate exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals, calms the nervous system, and inspires deep breathing. People who exercise regularly are less likely to experience debilitating anxiety.

5. Avoid Stimulants

Any substances that stimulate the brain or body turn on the sympathetic nervous system. They also activate the same brain centers as anxious thoughts. This is not such a big deal in people who are not overwhelmed by anxiety. But if your brain and body are used to being the habit of anxiety, stimulants make it a lot harder to stay in your happy place.

Do your nervous system and brain a favor by avoiding sugar, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol (actually a depressant, but still stresses the nervous system), processed food, and narcotic stimulants. And steer clear of violent television and movies, the news, intense music, and other stimulating media.

6. Do Something

Anxiety often arises out of a feeling of powerlessness and a lack of focus. Our energy just spins around with no direction. If you start to feel anxious, do something about it. This will look differently depending on the nature of your anxiety.

If you are feeling anxious about a possible future experience, take an action to help create a positive outcome. For example, if you are worried about your health, make an appointment with a trustworthy health care provider to get a check-up.

If your anxiety or panic is not related to something specific, then engage in a simple activity that will focus your attention, such as cleaning your kitchen or going for a walk. Sometimes just releasing energy will be enough to dissipate the anxiety.

7. Talk to Someone About It

Many people who suffer from anxiety disorders find therapy very helpful for exploring the true causes of their anxious states and learning tools for getting past them.

If you do not have the resources to see a therapist, even expressing your experience openly to a friend or family member can have profound effects. And spending time with people you love causes the release of relaxing hormones like oxytocin.

Bonus Tip: Express Gratitude. Keeping a gratitude journal, or even just reflecting on the things for which you are grateful in your life, can shift you from anxious to present.

While many people suffer from anxiety and panic attacks, you dont have to let anxiety run your life. Try these simple techniques to calm your mind and enjoy the moment, whatever life might bring your way.

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