Feeling Anxious?

March 14, 2024
Reading time: 4 minutes
Power of Thoughts, Self Improvement, Self-Worth

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Anxiety can be a challenging and deeply frustrating experience, impacting our lives in numerous ways, from sleepless nights to days filled with worry. So many of us are juggling multiple roles—career, family, relationships—each with its own set of demands and stressors. It’s no wonder that anxiety sneaks in, often without us even realizing it until we’re already in the throes of a heart-pumping, take-your-breath-away moment of panic.

Stress is one thing; anxiety is another. When we feel stress, it is typically in response to an external cause like a tight deadline or a relational conflict. Anxiety, on the other hand, is almost always an internal experience and is characterized by a feeling of apprehension or dread. It doesn’t relent once the external factor has been resolved, the way stress does, and can persist even in times of ease—sometimes becoming worse. It calls to mind the kabbalist’s view of the 1% world of form and the 99% realm of the unseen. Stress is a response to the 1%, and when we enact stress-resolving techniques like deep breathing, our inner experience returns to neutral.

It may not feel like it, but this is actually good news! With the right strategy, anxiety can not only be managed but can significantly decrease over time with practice and patience. I don’t believe in suffering, but I’m aware of how debilitating anxiety can be, which is why being proactive about our mental health is a commitment to self-care. There are always ways to meet life’s challenges with a fearless and open mind. To even find moments of peace and joy amidst your most seemingly chaotic experiences. Even better, these are scientifically supported anxiety hacks!

But first and foremost, we have to understand and become aware of our anxiety. Anxiety isn’t just feeling nervous or worried; it’s a very real response to stress. It can manifest in different ways, such as physical symptoms (heart palpitations, sweating) or emotional (feeling on edge, restlessness). Recognizing how it shows up for you is the first step in dismantling and eventually eradicating it. On to the science!

Mindfulness (Maybe Even Meditation?)

“Mindfulness” has become a very buzzy word, but it can never be reduced to a trend. Meditation, for example, has been shown to have significant benefits for mental health. According to a meta-analysis published in JAMA Internal Medicine, mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety, depression, and pain. The practice involves focusing on the present moment and acknowledging your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This type of meditative practice can reduce the stress response in the brain and foster a sense of peace. If classic meditation makes you feel stressed, though, try something else! There are many ways to be mindful: taking a walk (more on that next!), listening to relaxing music, and counting your breaths are all forms of mindfulness.

Hit the Gym, the Dance Class, or the Pavement!

Physical exercise is not just a pathway to physical health—it has an equally profound effect on our mental health as well. Countless studies show that it acts as a natural and effective anti-anxiety treatment by releasing endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers and mood elevators. A simple Google search will front-load hundreds of scientific studies that speak to how regular physical activity significantly decreases symptoms of anxiety, but I’ll share this one: researchers at the University of Colorado found that 5-minute walks throughout the day were more potent for study subjects than a 30-minute walk at the start of the day. Five minutes! If that’s all the time you’ve got, science says it’s more than enough!

Snack on Raw Fruits and Veggies!

This is a delicious tool for combatting anxiety, and it requires little to no prep work at all. Researchers in New Zealand conducted a study of both New Zealanders and Americans that focused on the benefits of eating raw fruits and vegetables vs. cooked or processed. It likely won’t surprise you, but munching on fruits and vegetables of the raw variety decreased depressive symptoms in subjects over time and significantly elevated their mood. Want to know the foods that had the biggest impact? Carrots, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens like spinach, grapefruit, lettuce, citrus fruits, fresh berries, cucumber, and kiwi.

You’ll notice that all of these tried-tested-and-true tips for combating anxiety have something profound in common.

They all require us to take good care of ourselves and to prioritize ourselves, our moods, our health, and our minds. Anxiety is an inner experience, but it usually arises when we’re placing too much focus and importance on things outside of us—and outside of our control. Our experience of life starts within, and when anxiety arises, we can see it for what it actually is—not a sign that everything is going horribly wrong, but more of an alarm that we need to come back to ourselves.

Kabbalah teaches that we are co-creating our lives with the Creator. It isn’t just the Creator leading the way for us, and it certainly isn’t us leading the way on our own. Having trust in the process of our lives—no matter how difficult and frightening life can seem—means we are also placing certainty in the Creator. This practice isn’t just for drawing down blessings, enacting the miraculous, or observing holidays. The Creator is in every element of our daily lives, including the not-so-fantastical things like deadlines, school schedules, home renovations, and, yes, email inboxes.

Meeting life on life’s terms sometimes means facing stressful and overwhelming moments. These times are meant to assist us in growing and transforming, not to cause us meaningless suffering. There will be zigs and zags, but there will also be beautiful, exhilarating experiences, too. Especially when you trust the process and have certainty in the Creator… and maybe take a short, sweet walk.


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Comments

  1. Jonathan Daniel Kruger Erbstein : March 20, 2024 at 5:17 pm

    Amazing, thank you

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