Stay calm and stop anxiety

TV host, Renée Bargh, has lots on her plate. So when we sat down to talk all things wellness with her, it’s no surprise that meditation was her key tip to keep it together, even when the world around you is a mess. 

Take a note from Renée Bargh next time you feel like you’re about to have a meltdown.

“Meditation and breath work are my tools for keeping cool. I started transcendental meditation about five years ago and it has become my saviour,” the TV host tells Body+Soul.

“I find when I’m meditating regularly, I’m less reactive and am able to drop into a calmer state much quicker. It’s not to say I don’t lose it sometimes, but if I meditate first before reacting or when I’m in a slight state of panic, the world feels much better afterwards and my head is clearer.

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“Breath work [deep breathing] is also super powerful and a great way to calm the nervous system and bring me back into my body.”

Need extra tips? We’ve pulled together 10 key practices recommended by health experts, that you can try when things are ‘hitting the fan’.

10 practices to help you keep your calm

1. Ask for help

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, speak up. “Don’t suffer alone and don’t think your issues aren’t big enough,” psychologist Jacqui Manning tells Body+Soul.

“Verbalising your fears can take their power away and help you move past whatever has affected you.” So make an appointment with a psychologist stat.

2. Keep a gratitude journal

“Every day I wake up and list the things I’m grateful for rather than focusing on the things that have gone wrong,” notes Renée Bargh.

“Knowing how lucky you are to have your health and a chance at another year is really important.”

3. Start a fitness routine

“Don’t wait to get started,” tips personal trainer Sam Wood.

“Taking small steps now will give you a head start. Whether it’s gradually increasing your step count, pushing yourself a little bit harder in your workouts or cutting out that after-dinner snack, all the little things add up.”

4. Do more yoga

According to Bargh, practices like yoga and Pilates are not only good for your physical health, they do wonders for your mental health, too.

“Pilates and yoga are my go-to exercises every single day,” she says. “But also try to do something fun. I’ve been playing tennis and taking dance classes as well, and they really take you out of your head.”

5. Book a weekender

According to life coach Claire Hall, taking time to reflect on everything you’ve experienced this year is key to moving forward.

“To truly dispel the debris and show up as your best self, you need to reassess and re-evaluate,” she tells Body+Soul. “Leave your daily environment for a weekend and give yourself the gift of time and space.”

6. Practise meditation

“It’s become an essential tool in terms of stress management, reactivity and coping in general. In transcendental meditation, you’re given a mantra [that you can] come back to whenever you have other thoughts,” says Bargh.

If you’re just getting started, Bargh notes apps like Calm, Headspace and Insight Timer can help ease you into the practice.

7. Limit your screen time

“We absorb an unprecedented amount of data daily and our bodies aren’t built to withstand this constant barrage,” explains Manning.

“In 2021, prioritise your biological needs by taking regular breaks from your screens, changing your notification settings so nothing but texts and calls ‘ding’, and switching your phone to ‘do not disturb’ mode at night.”

8. Ditch the comfort eating

“Don’t underestimate the importance of a balanced diet when it comes to regulating your mood and energy levels,” notes Wood.

To improve your mental health, try adding more wholefoods to your diet. But take it slow, warns Wood. “It’s all about progress, not perfection,” he says. “You’re far better off making small and simple changes every week.”

9. Set yourself a challenge

“Your mind becomes whatever you focus on, so it’s important to set your thoughts on a new vision or goal that inspires and excites you,” tips Hall.

“The more energy and focused attention you spend on this goal, the less space negativity will take up in your daily thoughts.”

10. Make a sea change

If 2020 made you realise that where you live isn’t conducive to the life you’ve always wanted, make this the moment you relocate. That’s exactly what Bargh eventually did. Over winter, she came home, reunited with her parents and sister – and ended up staying. She now lives in Byron Bay.

“If you feel like you’re ready for a simpler life, I say go for it, but take time to figure out if the move is realistic for you,” she says.