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Ten-Day Challenge to Reduce Anxiety

October 13, 2016 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

It can be a tremendous challenge to reduce anxiety. Don’t be mistaken (and outsiders shouldn’t be mistaken, either); it is not your fault that anxiety hangs on and on and on. It’s not because you’re weak. You’re not making it up, and it’s not in your head. You’re not blowing things out of proportion or making mountains out of mole hills. To be sure, anxiety does magnify problems and worries and fears, but that is anxiety’s doing rather than something you are choosing to do (Anxiety and Over-Thinking Everything). You are not your anxiety. You, then, have the power to challenge anxiety to a showdown. Try this ten-day challenge to reduce anxiety.

Why It's a Challenge to Reduce Anxiety

Taking this ten-day challenge to reduce anxiety can be very effective. Learn little tricks you can do every day to reduce your anxiety. Try it for  ten days.Anxiety has such a stronghold that it truly isn’t possible to eradicate it instantly in one fell swoop. It’s an incredible challenge to reduce anxiety because it hooks us thoroughly. Anxiety roots itself in the brain, impacting it at the neurochemical level and affecting multiple structures of the brain (Anxiety: It’s in Your Head [Your Brain]). This, of course, affects the rest of our being: our thoughts, our emotions, our actions (do you ever avoid people or situations? Thank anxiety and the way it works inside your brain), and our physical health.

To reduce anxiety, it’s effective to think small rather than big. Anxiety as a whole is a big, daunting, undulating dark mass of sticky goo. Broken down into bits, it’s much more manageable. Have you ever, like me, spilled Jell-O before it sets? Taken as one big puddle of goo, it’s impossible to clean up. The sticky goo smears, and it gets bigger and stickier.

Just as getting rid of gelatinous goo is possible when tackled bit by bit, so too, is eliminating anxiety when you approach it in small chunks. What little things can you do, what steps can you take, each day to reduce anxiety? Give this 10-day challenge to reduce anxiety a shot, and you just might find your anxiety diminish.

10-Day Challenge to Reduce Anxiety

The following suggestions are techniques that have been shown to successfully reduce anxiety. Not every technique works for everyone, so think of this challenge as an experiment, too. Try these in any order. The main idea is to use one to start and add more, one at a time, in a spirited challenge to reduce anxiety.

  1. I Spy. Distract yourself from your anxious thoughts by looking around you and slowly and non-judgmentally naming what you see.
  2. Oh, Snap. Wear a rubber band or other elastic bracelet around your wrist. When you feel your anxiety rise, gently snap it to remind yourself that you can pay attention to things other than anxiety.
  3. Touchy-Feely. To reduce tension and induce relaxation, touch stuff: Squeeze a stress ball, squish clay or Play-Doh, make a shape with kinetic sand, or pour uncooked rice into a container and sift it through your fingers.
  4. Bubbly. Blow bubbles, and blow away anxiety. This is a fun way to practice deep breathing and calm the mind and body. If you can’t blow bubbles, simply breathe slowly and deeply for the same effect.
  5. Come Unglued. Zen Buddhists call it coming unhooked, or shenpa. Notice your anxiety, and then let it be. It’s not who you are, so don’t get tangled up in arguing with it. Turn your back, unhook, and slip away.
  6. You’re Not the Boss of Me. Anxiety will try to control you, but you don’t have to do as it commands. If it tells you you’re not good enough for something, you don’t have to shrink away; show anxiety who’s boss by doing what you want to do despite anxiety.
  7. I’m Not Listening to You. Just as anxiety has no real authority over what you do, it has no power over what you choose to listen to. Sure, you will hear anxiety, but you don’t have to listen. When anxiety is really loud, ignore it by listening to music and dancing to your own beat.
  8. Run Away. Or walk, bike, swim, do aerobics, play tennis, kick a soccer ball, and more. Exercise improves both physical and mental health. Even a 10-15 minute walk every day will exhaust anxiety.
  9. Go with the Flow. To reduce anxiety’s agitation, find an activity that you enjoy so much that you lose yourself in it. This experience is known as flow in the field of positive psychology. You’ll find that you’re not losing yourself but are losing your anxiety.
  10. Be Scent-Sational. Because smell has a powerful effect on the brain, aromatherapy has a positive effect on mental health. Identify pleasing scents that relax you, such as lavender or chamomile, and surround yourself with them wherever you are. Choose from a vast array of available products such as essential oils, candles, pillows, room scents, and more.

At the end of this challenge, step back and evaluate yourself and your anxiety. Which techniques made it better? How did you make the undulating mass of goo shrink? Eliminate what didn’t work, and do more of what did (To Reduce Anxiety, Do More of What Works). It takes more than 10 days to fully reduce anxiety, but taking on a challenge to reduce anxiety, and doing little things every single day, will ultimately free you from anxiety’s sticky stronghold.

Let's connect. I blog here. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest. My mental health novels, including one about severe anxiety, are here.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2016, October 13). Ten-Day Challenge to Reduce Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, September 24 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2016/10/ten-day-challenge-to-reduce-anxiety



Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC

Tanya J. Peterson delivers online and in-person mental health education for students in elementary and middle school. She is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps, and five critically-acclaimed, award-winning novels about mental health challenges. She also speaks nationally about mental health. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Ginuschuks
October, 25 2018 at 11:43 pm

Thanks for the insights and I hope to practice these things to confirm their effectiveness.

Stephen E Vaile
October, 24 2016 at 11:55 am

Have been afflicted with acute anxiety since approx. age 5, I am now 70 YO.
Stephen Vaile
October 13 at 5:41pm ·
Just "found" this on Pinterest, gonna start right now!
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Stephen Vaile
October 14 at 7pm
Did it off and on the remainder of the day and the results are STUNNING!! Historically at this point in my cycle of the SGB injection for PTSD I am experiencing a 2 out of 10 (10 is worse) onset of anxiety that will come real close to 10 by the day of the next SGB injection. So give it a 10 day trial--nothing to lose but demon anxiety.
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October 24 at
Starting another 10 day cycle of this. It has worked amazingly. Coupled with the SGB injection for PTSD (Oct. 18) and EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) Oct. 20--70th. Bday) anxiety has diminished by >50%! Also, I feel that I can manage it with these and other tools.
I will add that commitment and focus, no matter how brief, are important.
But don't become disillusioned if it is a struggle, keep trying-gently.
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I agree wholeheartedly #111, meditation is essential as is planning ahead in "bite sized pieces" How to eat an elephant.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 25 2016 at 11:15 am

Hi Stephen,
Anxiety can be maddening and stubborn, as I'm sure you well know from decades of living with it. You haven't given up or given in, and you're an inspiration. I'm so glad that you are finding things that work. Thank you for sharing how this challenge, coupled with other things, has been working. And I love your wise reference to how to eat an elephant!

Jeffrey Pillow
October, 19 2016 at 4:33 pm

#11 Meditate
Meditation is a key ingredient in reducing my low and high anxiety. It's been crucial in transforming my life in just a year's time.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 19 2016 at 9:56 pm

Hi Jeffrey,
Definitely. Thanks for adding to the list! The longer the better.

Deborah Martin
October, 18 2016 at 9:15 am

It is an interesting approach to try out such a 10-day challenge in attempt to counter anxiety. I have to say a lot of these suggestions are practical and seem really useful. I especially love the Oh-Snap one, as it serves a much needed wake-up call function. Of course, many of these techniques can work, so it is an excellent idea to try them out all.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 19 2016 at 4:30 pm

Hi Deborah,
Thank you for your comment! With anxiety, trying different approaches and building a collection of things that work is important. A daily challenge, one that isn't too long, can make trying something seem doable. And just maybe, when you reach day 10, you will extend it for another 10. :)

Christopher meeds
December, 8 2016 at 9:19 am

I've had health anxiety since Thanksgiving and I'm frustrated..No sleep,weight loss and anger easily..I will be trying these out I need to nip this in the bud... I want to go back having fun with family....thank u.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 8 2016 at 10:52 am

Hello Christopher,
I'm glad you've discovered something that you can use to nip anxiety in the bud. Being proactive is really helpful. You might also want to consider a visit to your regular doctor. Sometimes anxiety, including the other symptoms you mentioned, is a symptom of a different physical health condition, and ruling things out can be a good thing to do. Keep seeking ideas and answers and building a stockpile of strategies that work. You will absolutely get back to having fun with your family.

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