How to F*cking Relax - 8 Tips for Overcoming Anxiety and Overthinking

Overthinking sucks!  I get it, I was a chronic overthinker.  I know the cycle of worry that picks up speed and builds until it is all consuming. I might even be the queen of overthinking.  

I would overthink and overanalyze every possible thing.  Random memory from my past that floods me with horrible anxiety.  Thoughts of defeat towards something that hadn’t even happened yet.  Wondering how to stop overthinking… wait am I overthinking this.  You name it, I’ve thought about it all too much.  

I’ve wanted to scream, “How do I stop thinking!?”  Scratch that. I have screamed that.  Maybe not out loud but definitely in my anxious brain.  I just wanted to relax.  I wanted to stop being kept up at night and I wanted to be able to focus.  

You see the worst part about overthinking is that, not only do you fall further down the rabbit hole the more you think, but the more you think the worse you feel.  

And suddenly you're worried about the earth falling out of the sky.  It feels like it is teetering on your shoulders and you’re just not strong enough to hold the whole damn thing up anymore.  

What if I told you that you don’t have to carry that weight anymore?  You don’t have to feel like your mind imprisons you. You are free to let it all go.  

But you have to really want it.  You have to be ready to call yourself out and get really honest.  You need to choose to live now, not yesterday or tomorrow, but right now.  Nothing else exists but the moment you are in right here.  

Are you ready to choose that?

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1. Set yourself up for success

When you are living an unhealthy lifestyle, you are even more prone to anxiety and intrusive thoughts.  By developing good habits and routines you set yourself up to feel better and have overall lower levels of stress.  Get a good night’s sleep to start the day off well, find a way to incorporate physical activity into your day, and try to eat healthy foods.  A healthy you is a happy you.  

2. Be Aware + Observation

Learn to catch yourself in moments where you are overthinking.  Acknowledging the habit of overthinking is the first real act to limiting the amount you overthink.  By learning to recognize overthinking and other anxious behaviors, you can also begin to find the causes.  Try to find the root of the problem to further your awareness.  

3. Accept it

To challenge your anxious mind, when you feel yourself overthinking, tell yourself that you cannot change the past and that worrying about the future will not get you there any faster.  Allow yourself to accept that some things are not in your control.  If you can’t change it, don’t worry about it.  This can be tough as you mind wants to worry but you have to remind yourself that things are not always in your control.  

4. Pull yourself out

This one is going to take some strength.  Once you are aware that you are overthinking, you have to bring yourself out of your head.  Accept that your mind wants to wander and then bring it back and tune into the present moment.  

5. Take Action

There’s no point worrying about something that you can’t control.  If you can change the situation or there’s something to fix or do, then do that.  Quell the worry by dealing with the problem.  

6. Find Distractions

When you start feeling anxious, the easiest way to immediately take action is to find something different to think about and focus on.  Any activity that works to get you out of your head is helpful.  

7. Schedule “Worry Time”

Give yourself time to overthink and worry as much as you want.  When “worry time” is over though, so is your overthinking.  

Feeling some overthinking come up?  Sorry, can you hold? Book yourself an appointment to let your brain go wild with thoughts.  Instead of engaging with your mind, put it off for a later date.  Not only does this stop you from overthinking in the moment but by the time you get to “later” you might have no need to overthink.  

8. Learn Forgiveness

Angry is a stew-y emotion.  It likes to hang out for too long and can build up easily if you let yourself overthink it.  Instead of finding all the reasons to be upset, learn to forgive.  This includes yourself.  Forgiveness helps you to let go of the emotions you might have towards a situation or person.  

9. Put it into perspective

Rationalize it!  In your head, explain to yourself all the reasons you have not to worry about whatever is bothering you.  Instead of worrying about what you did wrong or what might go wrong, realize that you’re probably worrying for no reason.  If it hasn’t happened yet then there’s no point putting yourself through it beforehand.  If it has already happened, know that nobody else is thinking about what you said or did, they are way more worried about themselves.  

10. Affirmations

This is a variation of distracting yourself where, when you feel intrusive thoughts you repeat a mantra or affirmations to counter your other thoughts.  Affirmations for anxiety or a line you can repeat to yourself forces your mind to break up your pattern of thinking.  Once you have recognized your overthinking, let it go and begin to repeat your affirmations.  Keep doing so until the anxious thoughts pass.

11. Embrace the present moment

This is a mindset shift.  You have to actively choose to not let yourself exist in anything but right now.  Know that thinking too much is not good for you and instead, try to embrace the present moment.  

When you can relax your over active mind and stop overthinking, you can begin to manage stress and anxiety better.  By pulling yourself out and consistently coming back to the present moment, you develop a mindset that keeps overthinking away.  Beating overthinking is really hard because like any pattern you have, it’s comfortable and easy to slip back into. Some days, all you might need is to push off your anxious thoughts and others you might try everything on this list.  Keep coming back to a place of observation and awareness and try to move back into the present moment.




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How to Release Stress with this Self Massage for your Neck

A massage sounds like a nice idea in essence but unfortunately, the cost and time can make them hard to access.  Self massages are an easy way to achieve the benefits of a massage without having to spend any money or go anywhere.  Self massages can be a targeted way to reduce stress and relieve tension.

When you give yourself a massage you can tailor your technique to what you are feeling in that specific moment.  If you come across any spots that are tighter than the rest, take a few extra moments to massage and work the area.  Take your time and feel free to follow the steps as you read them. This massage should be 6-8 minutes but could made to be shorter or longer depending on your needs.  

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Nobody has time to visit a massage parlor and although this is technically a “self massage,” you can absolutely recruit your significant other or someone else to help you.  Or if you are a significant other, you could give this massage.

My neck and shoulders are almost always carrying stress.  Which can be exhausting. When stress is really getting to me I can feel it creeping into my body and making itself home.  Unpleasant to say the least. A large part of this is controlling how I deal with stress but how do I deal with it once it's already there?

Pushing it out.  For some extra stress relieving properties, I imagine myself pulling and pushing all the built up stress out.  With every drag of my fingers, I feel the tension beginning to leave.

Not only do I use self massages for self care but they are also great for when I’m feeling overwhelmed.  I get a chance to tune into my body to find and relieve stress. As well I can dial up the intensity for a more deep massage, to really get the stress out.  

By combining awareness with this massage you can start to get to the root of your stress and begin to protect your physical body from it.  Stress is as much about the physical sensations you deal with as the emotional ones.

Massages can be helpful in reducing stress and can have relaxing aspects.  Massage oil or cream can be used to amplify these properties. As well neck massages can help to reduce headache pain, high blood pressure, and improve brain function by increasing circulation.  By massaging your neck regularly you may also see improvements in your posture, flexibility, and can reduce the chance of pulling a muscle. By giving yourself a massage you are able to get in on these benefits and start managing your stress.  

 
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Start by reaching both your hands to the base of your neck.  Use your whole hand to massage or palm the muscles there. Move down on to your upper shoulder/back and keep palming your muscles.  You should feel your muscles begin warming. Keeping with the same action, move upwards on your neck, about to the base of your skull.  Do this a couple more times until the whole area of your upper back and neck feel warm.

Move your hands farther down your back, next to your spine.  With an upwards motion push with a little more pressure on your traps.  Imagine yourself pulling the tension out as you repeat this movement 3 or 4 more times.  

Palm over your entire neck area again, keeping heat there.  Start massaging in a circular motion the top of your neck and continue to the base of your neck.  Then pull your fingers away from your spine. Keep with the circular motions if that feels good for 7-10 more repetitions or while moving your fingers down and away from your spine apply mild pressure.  Some mild discomfort may be noticed. You can keep palming the area if pushing is too painful. Make sure never to do anything painful or too uncomfortable. As well it is important to not push directly on your spine with too much pressure as you may cause unintended injury.  

Move again farther down your neck and begin to pull your fingers over the muscles at the tops of your shoulder blades.  Find a rhythm and begin to apply a little more pressure. Keep massaging your muscles out and away from your spine. Do this for 7-10 repetitions.  You can vary the speed or alternate the side you are doing this on.

Lightly tip your head to one side, make sure to find a stable point or support your head.  With your head tipped, again begin to make circles down the extended side of your neck and a short ways down.  Go for 5-7 repetitions. Repeat the same on the other side of your neck.

From a tipped point slowly roll your head forwards, to the side, and then backward until you’re in the starting point again.  Do this on each side 2-3 times.

Starting at the top of your neck, using your preferred method gently massage down your neck a few more times before returning to palming your neck.  Continue gently squeezing and palming up and down your neck, bring that heat once more.

Begin to focus in on where it feels tight.  This may be at the base of your skull, behind your ears, between your shoulder blade or elsewhere.  Pay extra attention here. Begin to massage the tight area with your fingers or thumbs. Make circles if that is what feels good or just simply push with your fingers.  

Give yourself one or two more large palming squeezes before letting go.  

Feeling relaxed yet?

After pushing all the stress out of your body, imagine yourself as a blank slate.  Allow yourself to release any extra stress you might be feeling. Know that keeping stress inside your muscles does not serve you and you are free to let it go.

Self massages are a nice way to help your relieve tension and relax.  You can give yourself a light massage anytime without needing to go anywhere or spend anything.  Massages can help to alleviate a number of ailments and get you on the path to being your best and most relaxed self.


 
 

Feeling Stressed? Here's 11 things you can do right now!

With the busy lives almost all of us lead today, it’s no wonder we feel stressed.  Stress can have many effects on both one’s physical and mental well being. When we are under stress we sleep less, are more likely to develop depression, and have poorer relationships; just to name a few.  Nobody wants to feel stress and everyone wants to feel at peace. Here’s a list of some of the ways you can use to find relief and reduce the feeling of stress.

1. Meditate

Taking some time to sit quietly and draw your focus away from your stressors can be super effective in alleviating stress.  When you allow yourself to let go of the worries and thoughts that plague your mind, it’s no wonder you will feel lighter and less stressed.

Want to try meditation?  Start here for a simple beginner’s guide or here to learn more about the different types of meditation you can try.


2. Stretch

Get your limbs nice and limber!  We don’t always notice it but when we’re under a lot of pressure we tend to hold the stress in our bodies.  Sometimes we have a tension in our shoulders or maybe a furrowed brow. Take a few moments to reach your arms up over your head, give yourself a twist, and feel the tension melt out of your body.  When we acknowledge where we feel stress we can become more aware and help to catch ourselves as we become stressed.

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3. Get some sun

Vitamin D can be surprisingly more powerful than you might think a vitamin can be.  When you’re experiencing low vitamin D, you might feel tired or sick, have muscle pain, or feel depressed.  Maybe you can’t just sit under the sun until your discomfort is solved but you could opt for a vitamin supplement and a short walk during your lunch break.  Just make sure to bring your sunscreen!

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4. Eat a healthy snack

Food is always something that can make your day better.  Although reaching for sweets might be your first instinct when you feel stressed, it’s important to choose something that will not only make you feel good now but that will also be good in the long run.  By picking a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or some veggies, we can also work to encourage other healthy choices not only in our diets.

5. Find a creative outlet

Maybe you’re not an artist or maybe you are, regardless having an avenue in which that you can express yourself without any expectations can be helpful to your stress level.  Maybe drawing or painting or even something as simple as a coloring book can be used to help relieve stresses.

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6. Talk to a friend

Having a support system in one of the single best things you can do for your mental health.  It’s so important to know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through. Just simply calling up a friend or family member can do so much to boost your mood because it gives you a place where you can talk about your feeling and help get them off your chest.  If you don’t feel as though you have someone in your immediate life to talk to there’s plenty of online chat rooms and forums where you can meet people who you will be able to relate to.

7. Have a technology free hour

I think most of us would be taken aback to learn just how much of an affect our technology has on the way we’re feeling.  Constantly checking for new emails, new updates, and all the seemingly endless things our phones can do for us may seem like a blessing but in most of those cases the emails are from our bosses, the updates happen overwhelming too often, and we are always connected to some sort of stress.  Putting down and turning our technologies off can do wonderful things for our stress level. Disconnecting from technology can mean disconnecting from many different causes of stress.

8. Play with a pet

I can’t imagine that there’s too many people that would not feel better after hanging out with a little fuzzy animal.  If you don’t have pets yourself you can always see a friend with one, go to a petstore, or volunteer at an animal shelter.  The energy that animals have are always enough to lift someone’s spirits.

9. Write it out

It’s no doubt that writing out our feelings is a healthy way to release them but not only can journaling help to release emotions but it can also be used to train yourself to find more positives.  We can write about the things that bothered or upset us but we can also use a gratitude practice to strength the good aspects of our day too.

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10. Read a book

Have you been to busy to start that book that’s maybe been sitting on your shelf for longer than you’d like to admit?  Whether you’re reading a story book to escape or a one to advance your knowledge, reading gives us the ability to focus on something outside ourselves.  Most of us probably don’t read often enough so what’s a better time than right now?

11. Clean your space

Maybe you thought your cluttered desk was a sign of genius in the making but nobody really likes to be overwhelmed by a mess.  Cleaning up your space, whether it's your house or your desk, can help you to organize your mind as well. It’s always helpful to know where everything is and that it will be there when you come to needing it.  Nothing is more distracting than looking for something and spending all your time trying just to find it.

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When you’re feeling down the best thing you can do for yourself is to acknowledge the feeling and let it go.  By separating yourself from your negative emotions, you are able to see the situation better for what it is. The main goal of all of the techniques listed above are designed to get you out of your own head.  Stress can be debilitating but using healthy coping mechanisms we can lessen the strain it puts on our wellbeing.