Back in the caveman days, anxiety helped our ancient ancestors outrun predators and stay alive. Now, most people don’t need to do this but still experience the same level of stress. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that around 19% of Americans have an anxiety disorder. The anxiety that many Americans experience only gets worse once combined with the co-occurring disorder of addiction.
With the right help though, people can convert this unwarranted stress into productive anxiety. We’ll show you how to channel positive energy where it seems like there’s none through these seven, simple activities.
First off, journaling is one of the best ways to turn stress into productive anxiety. For example, a study within The Arts in Psychotherapy shows that writing for as little as 15 minutes daily helps. The 2006 study shows journaling thoughts and emotions significantly reduces the negative effects of depression and anxiety. With this, the vast majority of participants never journaled about their feelings or even felt comfortable doing it.
So, in what way does journaling show how to channel positive energy where it was once negative? Firstly, it allows for emotional release. Bottled up feelings can turn into deeper problems when people ruminate on them. By writing them down, it lets one better process them.
Journaling As a Form of Productive Anxiety
When people deal with anxiety, they aren’t in control of their thoughts. Yet, people with anxiety disorders are in charge of their pens and papers. Writing out anxious thoughts with positive solutions or spins can help relieve stress. It shows that the worst-case scenarios that people’s brains spit out aren’t so bad at all.
Secondly, a prime part of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is recognizing thought patterns. Journaling is another way to recognize patterns over time. From there, individuals can see how to stop the cycle of vicious thought patterns and maladaptive behaviors before they begin.
2. Make Art
Art acts as a creative outlet to channel productive anxiety. Science says so, too. In fact, The American Journal of Public Health produced studies that highlight the connection between art, mental health, and physical health. These connections work together to reduce stress, which makes for a healthier body.
Although stress is a mental ailment, it manifests as physical symptoms. Therefore, people with anxiety often report suffering from headaches and body aches when they’re stressed.
Turning negative thoughts and emotions into something beautiful is a healthy coping mechanism. Doing this also allows the mind and body to relax. When a person relaxes, it lowers that person’s blood pressure and depletes the bodily chemical, cortisol inside of that person.
Cortisol secretes in a “flight-or-fight” scenario. Someone with anxiety likely has high levels of cortisol, meaning that they’re always in a flight-or-fight mood.
Art doesn’t mean one thing since there are different forms of art to consider. Some of these various forms of art include:
- Digital art
- Making ceramics
- Creating sculptures
These are some popular examples of art. Other examples include metallurgy, tufting, and making tapestries. Whatever act allows for creative expression is art. The most important thing is a form of art that you genuinely think is fun and makes you forget the hard feelings that often plague you.
Another mode of how to channel positive energy from anxiety is through cooking. There is something grounding about working with your hands. It’s because working with your hands allows the anxious mind to focus on something fully.
Stress becomes productive anxiety when a person cooks. This is because that person now has to think about the next step in a recipe rather than past arguments or negative thoughts.
There are plenty of resources to start cooking:
- Recipe apps
- Cooking shows
- Recipe books at the library
- Food magazines (like Bon Appétit)
A person doesn’t need to be Gordon Ramsey to relieve anxiety through cooking. Plus, it’s hard to be upset when there is delicious food ready to eat.
People can regulate their mental health further through what they choose to cook. Certain foods are known to boost the mood not only because of their tasty flavors, but also because of the vitamins that they have inside of them.
Creating something that is nourishing and delectable is an accomplishment. The feeling of pride overwhelms any notion of stress and hostility a person might harbor.
If cleaning is an issue (which it often is with anxiety disorders), opt for one-pot meals or disposable trays. Meals can be as simple or elaborate as a person chooses.
4. Make and Listen To Music
The University of Minnesota recognizes the power of music in terms of how to channel positive energy from anxiety. Specifically, the University discusses the therapeutic benefits of creating music through its creative and receptive process.
Music therapists will assist patients to create music to help them process their feelings and give them a creative outlet to express themselves. Then, in the receptive process, they will have them listen to soothing music.
Furthermore, the university stresses that it doesn’t matter the level of music experience one has. Anyone can relieve stress through music whether it’s through making digital beats or tapping away on the triangle. Additionally, the same can be said about listening to music. Soothing music distracts the mind from everyday worries and releases hormones that make a person feel good.
These hormones are associated with making and listening to music:
In short, the brain associates music with good feelings. Hence, actively taking the time to listen or play music will train the brain to be happier and relaxed. This will deplete levels of cortisol, which lowers stress on both the body and mind. Also, it’s cost-effective. Plus, It’s completely free to sing a song or listen to music.
It’s not a secret that exercise relieves stress. Firstly, the brain rewards the body by releasing chemicals that make a person feel content. These include endorphins, serotonin, and endorphins.
Exercise also helps regulate hormones. Exercise also lowers cortisol because the human body uses it during exercise to provide people with fuel and energy. On top of that, exercise helps level out the sex hormones, testosterone and estrogen.
At first, it might be unpleasant to exercise. It’s sweaty and uncomfortable. But, the brain quickly adapts to the benefits of using exercise as a form of productive anxiety. In fact, after a few sessions of exercise, some people find that they crave it. Their bodies want more of these chemicals that make them feel so good.
Additionally, exercising takes the mind off of anything it’s worrying about. A good workout session should leave people out of breath with their hearts racing. It’s quite difficult to ruminate on negative events when in this physical state.
Can’t stop thinking about the events of the day or the next cycle of bills to pay? Exercise more! Just keep in mind that it’s easy to get hurt when exercising without being mindful. Consider exercising with a personal trainer at a gym.
6. Take a Walk in Nature
For centuries the Japanese have praised the benefits of forest bathing. This is different from exercising. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. The practice of shinrin-yoku is a matter of physical mindfulness. It makes individuals actively observe the natural world around them instead of their negative thoughts.
Because shinrin-yoku can make someone struggling with anxiety slow down, it’s a form of productive anxiety. Working on mental health is more productive than any chore out there. Time notes that forest bathing can be done wherever there are trees. A garden or backyard will work to relax the mind.
Our Ancestors Naturally Turned Stress Into Productive Anxiety
Our ancient ancestors spent all of their time outside. Now, most people spend all of their time indoors. This disconnect between our basic biology and our actions can cause anxiety. As a result, spending time in nature is a way to channel positive energy into a weekly or daily routine with minimal effort.
Though centuries have passed, people aren’t so different from ancient humans. Our brains and bodies have remained largely the same. Yet, our day-to-day lives have changed drastically.
Lastly, yoga is how to channel positive energy from negative emotions. This practice is neither exercise nor mediation. It’s known as a form of moving meditation. The best part about yoga is that it can be as intense or relaxing as a person wants it to be.
Different forms of yoga that may be suitable to shake off stress depending on the individual:
Above is only a list of some of the most popular types of yoga; it’s not by any means exhaustive. Whenever someone feels overwhelmed by stress, that person should turn to yoga for productive anxiety. Yoga is all about mindfulness and controlled breathing. It can be done with a towel on the floor or up in the air through aerial yoga.
Older individuals who struggle with an anxiety disorder might want to consider yoga. It’s a slower form of this moving meditation where people may hold poses for up to five minutes. It also involves deep stretching. Yoga is a powerful tool against anxiety for any person, regardless of lifestyle and age.
We Teach How to Channel Positive Energy Through Productive Anxiety
Anxiety isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It pushes us to do things and places mental importance on what matters. However, sometimes it gets out of hand. Anxiety should only propel people to take action. It shouldn’t lead them to self-destruction. We can show you how to channel positive energy through productive anxiety with our trained staff. Contact us now to find out how we can help you work through anxiety and addiction!
Dr. Balta is the Medical Director at FCR for more than 10 years. Dr. Balta is Board Certified in Psychiatry and Addiction Medicine, Certified Psychoanalyst. As well, as having Psychiatric Training at The Albert Einstein School of Medicine Psychiatric Residency Program In New York City and Psychoanalytic Training at The William Alanson White Institute in New York City. While working in New York City, gained funding Grants for the treatment of Substance Abuse Disorders from SAMHSA , HRSA and the City of New York.