So, you’re finally home from work – or in my case you’re already home and just deciding to be finished for the day? – and you collapse onto the sofa.
You have only just begun to get comfy when something that happened hours ago slides into your mind, seemingly unnoticed for the first few minutes.
Maybe you said something to a coworker that wasn’t taken the right way, or you didn’t finish something you know you should’ve, or your child is giving you a run for your money lately and you know tomorrow you have got to run errands with said child in tow.
OR, my all time favorite…something that happened say, 15 years ago, keeps running through your mind like an annoying broken record?.
The oh-so-pleasant reminders that you suffer from anxiety. Things people ordinarily don’t think about – you do.
So – how to unwind with anxiety?
It can be difficult, and I’ve been through a frustrating amount of trail and error. But if you intend to get up the next morning with more than 3 hours of sleep, unwinding is a necessity.
In this article, I’ve included 4 ways to unwind that have proven effective for myself – and they just might be worth a try for you as well!
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1. Close The Door On Work
For some of you, this may mean figuratively – but for me, it’s literal, and it lets your brain know that you’re FINISHED.
My living room sofa faces the door to my office. It’s right in front of me at the end of the day.
If I leave the door to my office open, I think about all the projects that I left unfinished, all the things that didn’t go my way that day as I was working, and everything I’m going to have staring me in the face the next morning.
One of my favorite verses to meditate on at the end of the day when I am ruminating (something I’ll address shortly), is this:
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
-Matthew 6:34 ESV
Not only does it pertain directly to my anxious thoughts most of the time, but it rests on a foundation of common sense. There is absolutely nothing we can do about anything that happens tomorrow. Worrying about tasks for the next day works to steal the peace that you could have TODAY.
By closing the door to my office, I shut down any notion that might arise about re-entering and finishing something up, or about rethinking something I have already spent hours doing. Not today Satan.
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For you, closing the door might mean allowing an email to sit in your inbox until the next morning. Turning your phone to silent. Leaving all devices out of reach so that you can interact with your family without distraction.
Coming from someone with tendencies to work all the time, you have to place boundaries on your time – and with the people who don’t respect it- or your chances of being able to kick back and unwind are basically nonexistent.
You’ve got to set boundaries for yourself while you are feeling strong and able so that when you have a weak moment and are NOT feeling that way, you can follow your previously set rules and enjoy the benefits of being able to relax and reset for the next day.
When I was self-employed as a cosmetologist and LMT, I did not answer any texts or calls to make clients’ appointments after a certain time in the evening. If someone found that annoying, I was perfectly fine with them choosing to try to book with someone else. My personal peace is not worth giving up to satisfy someone else.
Whatever anyone is needing or wanting or demanding CAN WAIT. What’s more important? Your mental health, or their opinion of you?
Try to find what works for you as far as closing the door on work in the evenings. Trust me, it works, and you will find a new-found peace in the boundaries you set for yourself and others.
2. Taking Every Thought Captive
While this may seem like an elementary practice, it absolutely is NOT for someone with anxiety.
BUT, we DO have the power to stop thinking about what we don’t want to think about. To push out the bad and allow in the good.
It takes much practice – it certainly won’t happen overnight – but once you’ve begun to master the concept, it becomes much more of an instant instinct, and you begin to do it without thinking.
So, what exactly do I mean by “taking every thought captive”?
Simply this: When something enters your mind like, “I’m going to do a horrible job of handling tomorrow’s situation. I’ll mess it up. They won’t like how I handle it. I’ll get fired.”
You recognize that this is simply an anxious thought. Nothing more. And you push it out and replace it with a positive thought – “I know I’m going to do great tomorrow! I’ll do the best I can, and it will be wonderful to be done with it and know that I did my best!”
When you consistently replace the negative with the positive, you are creating new neuro-pathways in your brain. You are TRAINING your brain to think differently. And the more you do it, the less negative, UNTRUE thoughts you will have.
It can seem difficult at first (I thought I would never get the hang of it). But it’s one of the best decisions you can make when you are struggling with anxiety and you can’t shut your mind off at the end of the day.
Contrary to what you might believe, you do not have to think whatever pops into your mind. You can replace the thoughts and live a happier life.
Rumination is typical with people that struggle with anxiety. It means to repetitively go over a though or a problem without completion.
Whether you think thoughts of not being able to perform correctly at work, being inadequate, being stuck in a situation with no way out, etc, all of these thoughts can be taken captive and replaced with positive ones.
Joyce Meyer’s book Battlefield of the Mind has helped me TREMENDOUSLY in this area. She is great at explaining what to do when you have a negative thought, and how to replace it quickly and effectively.
You don’t have to sit at home in the evening paralyzed by negative and foreboding thoughts. You have the power to change that.
If you’d like to learn more about how to remove negative thoughts, take a look at this message. It will get you started!
3. Natural Sedatives
While I myself struggle heavily with anxiety and am on a medication to assist with that, I also rely on natural options such as herbal teas and supplements to help shut my mind off at night so that I am able to replenish myself for the next day.
I’ve discovered – the hard way, of course- that caffeine is not my friend. When I would chug 3-4 cups of coffee on any given day in an attempt to run my three businesses and keep up with my little ones, I was having EXTREME anxiety problems.?
I’m talking physical manifestations such as trouble breathing, tight chest, shaking, irritability to the max, jumpiness, thoughts bouncing off the walls in my head constantly, and even horrible headaches. I wasn’t able to continue on with that much caffeine.
Now I drink about a half cup of coffee per day. I know. It seems undo able, but it actually isn’t that bad if you supplement.
So, I load it up with about a tablespoon of heavy whipping cream and a teaspoon or so of raw agave syrup. This makes it taste rich and creamy and with ice in it it’s become one of my favorite beverages!
Also. Melatonin. Melatonin has been a real life saver in this whole being-able-to-unwind situation.
I take a dissolvable tablet before jumping in a bubble bath, and by the time I’m out and ready for bed, it has kicked in and I can fall asleep almost instantly. It also helps to keep you asleep for those of us that had the pleasure of waking up at 3 a.m. with thoughts of the next day.
Chamomile tea is great just before bed, though this one is the hardest in my opinion to tolerate in the taste department.
Finally, I will use CBD oil under my tongue at night for a little bit of relaxation. It doesn’t get you “high”, it just helps to ease your tension. Myfoli.com has a great article about using CBD oil in the evenings to unwind and you can find that article here:
4. Prayer And Meditation
Meditation is not something that has to be done cross-legged on the ground outside for an entire day.
I have found some wonderful videos on YouTube that lead you through a guided meditation, or just play really great relaxing music while you do your own meditation to center yourself and escape from the hectic day that you just had.
Here is an example of a guided meditation:
There are also apps that you can download that will lead you through meditations.
And yes, prayer. You guys. Prayer works wonders.
Psalm 55:22 (MSG) Pile your troubles on God’s shoulders – he’ll carry your load, he’ll help you out. He’ll never let good people topple into ruin.
When I am lying in bed at night and have failed to be able to let go of my troubles from that day, I pray. God asks us to cast our cares on Him, and he means it.
It’s also a great idea to create a prayer box. This will help you to realize how many situations and problems God has helped you through and that your prayers don’t stop at the ceiling.
Use an old shoe box, or any box you have lying around, and anytime you are worried in the evening and can’t get a problem off of your mind, write it down on a piece of paper and toss it into the box. Then it’s God’s. If you want to keep worrying about it, you have to take it back out of the box and explain to God that you don’t trust him with it.
When you think about it, every once in a while, look through the papers in your box. See for yourself how many troubles God has seen to. How many prayers he has answered.
You’ll be pleasantly surprised ?
Well, friends, I hope this article has helped you. Anxiety doesn’t have to rule you. These tips have helped me to be able to shut it off at night and unwind, preparing myself for the next day with a restful sleep, and I hope they will help you as well!
Questions or comments? Please feel free to leave them below, and I’ll get back with you!
Need prayer? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a beautiful day!