Saturday, 22 February 2014

How to Cure Anxiety

I follow the 4 Hour Blog by Tim Ferris. Tim always has some interesting stories, and for anyone into lifestyle design you wont regret reading his books and his blog posts. The latest post is about curing anxiety (the article is written by an acquaintance of Tim). A really good read with some very good techniques to reduce anxiety and stress. The article can be found here:

Here follows my thoughts and comments.

First of all, the part about Trauma Release Exercises I must admit sounds very interesting! I just ordered the book. Looking forward to trying it. Sounds crazy (but harmless) and therefore it must be tried ;)

There is however one of the techniques in the article I think should come with a serious warning: "Consistent bedtime". It is absolutely true that sleep is important. I know from personal experience that a consistent bedtime combined with the right amount of sleep (not too little, not too much) lowers stress levels and greatly improves metabolism and muscle recovery (the latter two are important for fitness geeks like me). However, if you force yourself to go to sleep you might actually increase anxiety.

If you lie down, but can't sleep, then stop trying! The idea of a consistent bedtime is good, but only works once you are doing other things to keep anxiety and stress levels low. One technique I use to fall a sleep is simple meditation. When done lying in your bed you have a tendency to fall a sleep once fully relaxed, and in this case that is the point, whereas normally you want to stay awake while meditating ;) An important thing to remember about sleep is that you cannot force yourself to sleep, ever. So if you lie down at your scheduled bedtime but cannot sleep then mediate a bit, read a book, or get back up and do something you love but that makes you relax (i.e. not work).

I often work in the evening, right until bedtime. A trick I use for relaxing myself is doing the dishes. That is, after dinner I quickly rinse the dishes and leave them neatly on the left side of my kitchen sink, then when I am done working I do the dishes, brush my teeth and go to bed. Going for a walk is another good trick. Fresh air helps you relax. A final tip on sleeping is that you should make sure you have enough fresh air in your bedroom. I have a Withings body analyser (it is a fancy internet connect bathroom scale that also measures the air CO² level) and it made me aware of the poor air quality in my bedroom at night. I was already a sound sleeper but now I sleep even better! So remember to let fresh air in before you go to sleep, and if you do not have ventilation in your bedroom then sleep with the door open.

On a final note, regarding the unplugging from all news sources: Really, just do it! I did this years ago and I do not regret it. Once in a while, maybe every third month, you can catch up on things if you need to. If "news" is in your work, then even the more reason not to read it when you are off the clock! I get very anxious when I read the news, or especially when I watch it on TV. So I stopped.

Let us take politics as a quick example. When does new about politics affect you? Every day? No! Only when you act upon it, that is, vote. So when election time comes, then look into your options and actually read up on the different parties. What they stand for, what they plan to do, and what their track record is when it comes to actually doing what they say they will. Unless the things you read in the news are so bad that they will make you take to the streets in the name of your personal liberties, then do not worry yourself. You, sitting around the kitchen table yelling in agreement with your family about how stupid the current government is will not make any difference now will it? It will only make your adrenalin start pumping and increase stress and anxiety.

I do not mean that you should stop caring about what is important for you. Just be mindful of how your news reading habits affect your. It should enrich your life, if not, then stop.

I will end this blog post with the same quote as was used in the last section of the article. A quote from my all time favourite comedian:
"Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question, “Is this real, or is this just a ride?” And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say, “Hey, don’t worry; don’t be afraid, ever, because this is just a ride.” --- Bill Hicks

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