While some people look forward to a new year full of new possibilities, others dread the change and the unknown that a new year signals. People struggle with seasonal affective disorder, new jobs, new insurance plans, new leases, and other changes that bring about more negative feelings than positive. If you’re struggling with anxiety and hoping to be more positive this year, you’re not alone. We hope our tips for being less anxious and more positive in the new year help you find some solace and peace.
1. Practice Deep Breathing
As your anxiety levels increase, you often feel like you are losing control. One way to regain control and get re-centered is to focus on your breathing. Deep breathing is an effective way to reduce anxiety because it triggers your relaxation responses. You help your brain and your body transition from fight-or-flight mode to a more relaxed state when you take deep breaths.
Dr. Marla W. Diebler, psychologist and director of The Center for Emotional Health of Greater Philadelphia, LLC, suggests that you inhale slowly to a count of four, fill your belly and your chest with air, hold your breath to a count of four, and slowly exhale to a count of four. Repeat the technique until you feel more relaxed.
2. Get More Sleep
Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep affects us emotionally and physically. In fact, a lack of sleep worsens anxiety and stress and begins an unhealthy cycle of increased anxiety and decreased sleep. When you feel especially anxious, strive to get a full seven to nine hours of sleep each night.
If you’re struggling to relax and get enough sleep, there are a few steps you can take. First, make sleep a priority by scheduling your bedtime and wake-up time for the same time each night and day. Creating a sleep schedule boosts your body’s sleep-wake cycle and naturally helps you get better sleep. Make sure that you aren’t eating sugary foods before bed or drinking beverages full of caffeine or alcohol too close to bedtime. Make your bedroom cool and comfortable by turning your thermostat to between 62-67 degrees Fahrenheit and lowering your lighting.
3. Meditate and Reflect
Knowing how to calm yourself is a critical step toward keeping your anxiety about the new year to a minimum and starting the new year as positively as possible. Meditating and reflecting are two tasks you should do each day to start on the right path for the year.
Begin each day with meditation. Meditate in a quiet, relaxing area of your home before the hustle and bustle of the morning sets in. Focus on positive energy and a mantra that will help you prepare for the day. If anxiety starts to set in later in the day, practice deep breathing and take a few minutes to revisit your meditation and mantra.
At the end of each day, practice reflecting in a positive way. You may keep a journal beside the bed where you record the positive events of the day or the techniques you used to keep your anxiety at bay. Some people focus on the progress they’ve made by writing it in their journal so they avoid feeling like they need to be perfect at reducing their anxiety level.
4. Get Regular Exercise
Exercise has long-lasting positive effects on mental health. If you have anxiety, you should be exercising more to increase your blood flow, improve the production and regulation of your neurotransmitters, and relieve your symptoms. Simply put, exercises boosts your mood by releasing more of your feel-good endorphins and giving you something to focus on and work toward. Regular exercise also leads to improved sleep.
You may not be able to cure your anxiety about the new year completely, but you can get it under control if you practice deep breathing, improve your sleep, meditate and reflect in positive ways, and exercise regularly.
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