5 lifestyle hacks you can start TODAY to break free from the anxiety cycle

Each morning the sun rises in the sky, and with perfect predictability, returns to the horizon every evening.  As the quieting world outside your window tucks in for the night, do you find a darkness creeping in, settling around you? 

 Darkness that takes shape in the form of fear, worry, dread and anxiety.  Fear of not sleeping.  Worry about all of the “what if’s”. Dread of another night tossing and turning and anxiety of what tomorrow will be like if you don’t sleep.  Sound familiar? If so, then you are one of the millions of Americans suffering from sleep anxiety. 

A night of poor sleep can often lead to worry and anxiety about future nights of poor sleep.  Allowing those thoughts to fester activates the sympathetic nervous system, putting you into a state of fight-or-flight.  Living in a state of fight or flight increases stress hormones, which can make it difficult to wind down enough to fall or stay asleep.  By allowing yourself to fall into this unproductive rhythm, you’ve now created a perfect sleep anxiety cycle.

Welcome to being human.  And part of being human is learning how to overcome and break free from the grip of anxiety. It takes practice, self-awareness and curious attention to your thoughts, but when done correctly will set you free.    

Let’s start with some action steps.  Commit to these five practices DAILY to break out of the anxiety cycle. 

1. Incorporating play into your weekly routine 
⦁ A hobby, sport, comedy club, creative outlet, dance break, etc.
⦁ Aim for 30 minutes per day (or more, if possible). 
2. Unplug  
⦁ The information you allow into your conscious awareness determines the quality of your life. In other words, you are what you think. If you are subsisting on content that’s unsettling, anxious, and soulless (ex: the news, reality shows, horror movies, books written by hateful authors and porn), your mind will become stressed, scared, and cynical.
⦁ But if you are consuming content that’s joyous and playful, your mind will become happy and loving. Simple as that.  
3. Get ready for bed
⦁ Set a daily reminder on your iPhone called “Get Ready for Bed” 8-9 hours before you need to wake up
⦁ As soon as it goes off, begin your bedtime performance ritual.
4. Eliminate Stimulants 
⦁ Cut out any substance you regularly consume that’s correlated with increased feelings of anxiety. 
⦁ Common culprits include: caffeine, aspartame, gluten, refined sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana. Keep it out of your body for one week. See how you feel.
5. Release tension and stress using a relaxation technique
⦁ Yoga, mediation, listening to music or going for a walk
⦁ Get out in nature! 
⦁ Calling a friend or playing with a pet
Anxiety is part of the human condition and poor sleep often just a symptom of anxiety. Practicing the above strategies will help you to recognize anxiety when it arises, treat yourself with the grace and understanding you deserve, and break out of the anxiety cycle for good.