My 9 Habits For An Anxiety-Free Life

Plus 4 book recommendations

Dipanshu Rawal
Sep 3 · 8 min read

I can recall my first meeting with anxiety. It was a night before my college exams, and at around 11:00 PM, I started sweating my palms.

My heartbeat felt like it might explode from beating so fast. I don’t know what triggered all this, a moment ago, I was studying for my next day’s exam.

I was confused and scared. I didn’t know what to do. I never experienced this kind of feeling before that day. I felt like my body is out of control.

I got up and had a glass of water, and I tried to get normal. Guess what? I couldn’t.

I called my friend, and she suggested I should listen to raindrop sounds on youtube, as they might calm me down. Yeah, that did calm me down, for the moment at least.

I remember that night, that first panic attack. Everything changed after that.

I was borderline depressed for a few months before this incident, due to a couple of personal downfalls in my life.

But this was it. I knew I had to do something about it. Things needed to be changed. Probably this was my tipping point.

After this, I went through psychotherapy and started reading self-help books.

Since then, anxiety has been like a passive-aggressive friend of mine.

I do get to have a meeting with it now and then, and over the past 3–4 years, I have developed habits to make peace with it.

Coming directly from a veteran, here are 9 habits I have developed to calm down my anxiety.

Cleanliness

Here’s a beautiful book I read last year: “A Monk’s guide to a clean house and mind.”

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Amazon.com

Cleaning is a spiritual practice.

After reading this minimalistic and practical book, I started a daily practice of cleaning my washroom — some days the floor, other days, the sink or commode.

And yes, it’s a life-altering habit to clean your mind and become more forgiving.

This book is a guide to Buddhist practices and explains how cleaning needs to be an integral ritual of someone’s daily lives.

I am not sure about the scientific reasoning behind this, but I have observed that if I am becoming anxious, doing some cleaning around the room helps me.

Physical Workouts

I never realized I’d love gymming so much. But since I started, I don’t know how not to do it.

Maybe yoga could be your physical workout.

Movements will keep hormones in your body regulated. Plus, if you can top it up with a healthy diet, that would be a bonus.

You may not want to exercise precisely when you have a panic attack, but if you include this in your routine, it will help you calm down your anxiety at a macro level.

For starters, you can try your workouts with these major exercises: Pushups, Squats, Lunges, Planks, Jumping jacks, and all of the variations of these exercises.

Meditation

I have seen my clients getting terrified of meditation. And it makes sense.

Our brain is so accustomed to continuous working; it becomes our duty to give it a break sometime.

Think of it as a burnout employee of your body.

You are the boss. You can notice how your employee isn’t working productively when he is burnt out. You see, if your employee doesn’t take a break, it gets counterproductive.

So, you give your employee 1-day leave from office, forcefully.

Treat your brain like that. Just 5-min rest every day.

Closed eyes + deep and slow breathing. That’s enough for a start.

Meditation has been a guaranteed way to reduce stress and anxiety levels.

I have tried multiple apps for this too. Headspace and Insight Timer has been my favorite meditation apps.

I also liked Coach Tony’s mental pushups method.

Instead of feeling guilty that your mind is wandering while you meditate, reframe this activity.

When your mind wanders during meditation, and you acknowledge it, count it as half a pushup. Then bring it back to focusing on your breath; it would be then counted as a full pushup.

This will help you increase your mental strength, and it’s a fun way to do meditation. I have recently tried it, and it works like a charm.

Journaling

I usually do this one practice as a beginning exercise with all of my clients.

I ask them to note down all the problems they have in life, without any judgment. If they have an issue with their pinky toe or their career, I ask them to write it down.

You can try this too. Write down all of your long term, short term, major, and minor issues that you want to change in your life.

When you have listed everything down, you will feel a sense of calm in your body.

Because we have so much in our brain, that we never talk about it, or let it out in any way.

But making lists, or writing journals, they help us get everything from our brain to out in the world on paper.

“Paper has more patience than people”

Anne Frank

And guess what? Paper is also more non-interruptive, non-judgemental than most of the people.

Image for post
Image for post
Source: Google images

Mindful Eating

Your body is the lump sum of what you eat and how you eat.⁣

Here’s a little experiment I tried with my food recently. ⁣

I integrated mindfulness into my meals. ⁣

That means, whenever I eat anything, I try to be completely mindful of the food, the nutrition, the taste, the effects — everything. ⁣

Does this sound too much? ⁣

Here is a quick way to start this practice. ⁣

Eat one bite at a time. Don’t touch another bite from your meal, unless you have finished the previous bite in your mouth. ⁣

Feel how your teeth are chewing the food, how is it going down your food pipe into your gut. Feel the food you are eating.

Permission to Enjoy Yourself

This would mean eating an extra packet of nachos if you want to it.

I usually see my clients getting worried about having an extra slice of cake, or ordering a pizza with extra cheese.

Well, having an extra once in a while won’t hurt you, but the guilt you’re carrying around with these “once in a while” things — that guilt buries you.

Make a list of all the things that make you feel worried and guilty. And think objectively are they even worth feeling guilty about?

You can game this up as well.

Make “pizza” coupons for yourself. Let’s say you want to have one pizza every week. Make four coupons before the start of the month, and everything you eat a pizza, use this self-coupon of yours.

Regulating Your Emotions

Would you like to go out on a date with your emotions?

Right swipe them, just like your tinder matches.

Go out on a date with your emotions. Dress nicely to meet them. Ask about their well-being.

Understand what’s their history — where are they coming from?

Talk to your emotions. Say hello.

If you’re feeling anxious, say-

“Hello, anxiety! Nice to meet you. What’s up?”

Offer a non-judgmental space to your emotions.

Listen to Calming Music

I prefer instrumental music.

Soft and calming music will help you calm down your nerves.

This is precisely the way I started working on my anxiety.

You may decide to close your eyes, lie down for some time, and listen to this music. If you fall asleep, let it be. Surrender and don’t struggle.

Here are some Youtube videos I suggest you can try:

Connect With Your Life Purpose

Have a cheat sheet. On a piece of paper, write down why you are doing whatever you’re doing. In a few lines, sum up what is your mission. You can call it your mission statement as well.

Read this mission statement multiple times a day. Connect with the bigger picture now and then.

Doing this will make sure you don’t stress over irrelevant matters.

4 Book Recommendations to Learn More

  • Mind Full to Mindful
  • A Million Thoughts
  • The Universe has your back
  • The Surrender Experiment

The first two books will guide you on how to live in the present moment.

The last two books will teach you the importance of surrender, and the art of letting go.

Both of these practices, living in the present moment + art of surrender and letting go, are necessary to work on your anxiety issues.

Summary

Here are my 9 habits of living an anxiety-free life:

  • Cleanliness. I am not sure about the scientific reasoning behind this, but I have observed that if I am becoming anxious, doing some cleaning around the room helps me.
  • Physical workouts. Keep your body in movement. Regular walks, yoga, strength training… whatever works for you. All of this helps in regulating your hormones.
  • Meditation. Breathe in. Breathe out. Whenever your mind wanders, gently bring it back to focus on your breath. Try meditation apps for starters like Headspace or Insight Timer.
  • Journaling. Start by writing down all of your problems. Make lists. Pend down your thoughts. Journal as often as you need to. This practice helps to clear out your mind.
  • Mindful eating. Try eating one bite at a time. No TV or Books, just eating. Please slow down and feel how your teeth are chewing your food, and how it’s going down to your gut.
  • Permission to enjoy yourself. Gamify your fun. Have an extra slice of pie if that makes to happy. Enjoy yourself.
  • Regulating your emotions. Go on a date with your feelings. Offer them a non-judgemental space and try to understand their message.
  • Listen to calming music. And if you want to close your eyes, and take a nap for a few minutes, that’s fine too. Enjoy the relaxation process.
  • Connecting to your life purpose. Write your mission statement on a piece of paper and use it as a cheat sheet. Read it often, and stay connected to your life purpose and mission.

4 Recommended books

  • Mind Full to Mindful
  • A Million Thoughts
  • The Universe has your back
  • The Surrender Experiment

The first two books will guide you on how to live in the present moment, and the last two books will teach you the importance of surrender, and the art of letting go.

Image for post
Image for post

Mind | Body | Soul

A journey of the total well-being of the mind, body, and…

Dipanshu Rawal

Written by

Purpose and Clarity Coach || Download my new book “Spark A Fire” for FREE here- https://www.dipanshurawal.com/spark/

Mind | Body | Soul

A journey of the total well-being of the mind, body, and soul

Dipanshu Rawal

Written by

Purpose and Clarity Coach || Download my new book “Spark A Fire” for FREE here- https://www.dipanshurawal.com/spark/

Mind | Body | Soul

A journey of the total well-being of the mind, body, and soul

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store