As we near the end of what has undoubtedly been a year, many will want to forget. We have all been adjusting to the events of 2020, leaving many of us in a state of high anxiety.

I do think there have been positives from the year - it has given us all a chance to slow down, focus on what matters and reset what it is to be human.  With that all said, I wanted to jot down five tips that I use when my anxiety starts to get too much, and I need to clear my mind.

PAUSE

PAUSE is an acronym that I came up with to take a breather from a stressful situation, and it stands for:

P - Pause and take a deep breath;

A - Analyse the situation - decide if you would be worried about it in a year;

U - Understand your thoughts are just thoughts, and you can reframe the situation;

S - Stop the negative cycle by visualising a STOP sign and saying STOP out loud;

E - Engage in positive thinking.

Take a bath

Every week, on a Sunday, I designate 30 mins to 1 hour to have a bath, in which I recreate a spa experience for myself.  The timing is no coincidence either; it is the one time of the week I allow myself to switch off from everything and reset for the coming week.  So why not take the time for yourself?

Give it a try:

Use high-quality bath pink Himalayan salts which can help reduce the tension around your body.  Light some candles and burn essential oils and play some calming music.  Allow your mind to wander and imagine a vast desert with all your daily thoughts on the horizon.

You will come out relaxed and ready for the new week ahead.

Mindfulness

It took me a while to realise the benefits of mindfulness, but after a few false starts, I started to reap the benefits.  Like everything else, mindfulness takes practise, and I have found guided meditation the most effective.  It allows me to be present by focussing on breathing, and as soon as my mind wanders, I have been able to learn to acknowledge the thoughts and bring myself back to the present.

You can read more about the benefits of mindfulness in this article by Harvard Gazette

Exercise

Exercise is an obvious one, and the benefits are well known - however, just because we know it is good for us doesn't mean we do it.  Any activity is good, whether it is with friends or solo. To maximise clearing your mind, however, it might make sense to take yourself out for a run or a walk and allow yourself some time on your own.  Listen to music, or listen to nature the choice is yours but make sure it has a minimum of 30 mins to get the most from it.

Empty Your Mind

When your mind is full of troubling, negative or unwanted thoughts, one of the worst things to do is bottle them up.  We have all likely heard the phrase "A problem shared is a problem halved" - and it's more than an old wives tale.

Research has shown that writing down your thoughts or talking them over with someone can help you improve your immune system and generally make you feel better.

It takes a lot of energy to suppress thoughts and letting them out means you can use that energy for a better you and clear your mind.

Disconnect

One of the most beneficial things to make a little room in my head was to look at how I was using my phone.  The phone was chaos at best - icons scattered all over the place, with commonly used apps at the end.  Notifications were popping up so frequently it is more annoying than someone picking their nose. On top of that, it would be the first thing I would check in the morning and last thing at night.

Essentially the phone is a constant reminder to be connected to someone else leaving no time for my thoughts.  The solution:

  • Delete apps that were no longer required;
  • Rearrange the home screen, so there were only two pages with the most important apps on the first screen;
  • Disable all notifications;
  • Refrain from checking the phone for the first hour of the day, and kept it away from the bed.

Give it a try; I promise this will make a massive difference.