Are you looking for some simple lifestyle changes to reduce anxiety? There are lots of ways we can make small changes in our lives that will make big changes in the way we feel! Even habits that might seem perfectly harmless to you could actually aggravate anxiety and make you feel worse. Keep reading for some lifestyle changes to reduce and anxiety and start living better!
1. Cut down on Caffeine
One of the biggest lifestyle changes to reduce anxiety is to cut down on your caffeine consumption. Even if you’re addicted to your daily cup or cups of coffee, caffeine is a stimulant and can have undesirable effects on your body. It’s not just coffee that we want to cut down on either, caffeinated tea, chocolate and sodas all contain caffeine and can cause an increase in heart rate and worsen anxiety.
2. Work out Regularly
Exercising is great for so many things and it’s also another way to reduce anxiety! The important thing is to keep at it and regularly exercise so you can feel the calming and healthful benefits of getting your heart pumping! It might seem counter-intuitive to get your heart going to reduce anxiety but exercising increases endorphins, which are the body’s natural feel good chemicals, and also helps burn off excess adrenaline.
3. Avoid Alcohol
Many people turn to alcohol as a quick means of anxiety reduction but it can backfire. Alcohol can temporarily make you feel calmer and more sociable but it also causes low blood sugar levels and increases lactic acid levels, which are linked to agitation and anxiety. Keep alcoholic drinks to a minimum and turn to healthier things like calming herbal teas to help ease your frazzled mind.
4. Pump up the Jams
Music is powerful; it can lift our spirits, commiserate with us and perfectly capture our thoughts and feelings and put them to a catchy tune. Listening to music is actually an effective tool in reducing stress and decreasing anxiety. You know that great feeling you get when your favorite song comes on? Keep an MP3 player or music on your phone so you have easy access to some mood-lifting tunes!
5. Breathe Deeply
Another great tool in anxiety reduction is to learn to breathe deeply from your belly. I was in the habit of always breathing from my chest, so no matter how deep I thought I was breathing, it wasn’t as effective as breathing from your diaphragm. It takes practice in the beginning but it gets easier as you practice and it can definitely help balance your mind and body.
6. Eat Well
We don’t always expect the foods we eat to affect our moods, but they do! Eating an unhealthy diet filled with processed, fried or high fat foods can aggravate anxiety. You can’t make a bunch of changes to your life without changing your diet and still expect results! Stick to eating a wholesome and healthy diet of vegetables, fruits, lean proteins and grains. Foods high in complex carbohydrates, vitamin B and protein are ideal calming foods!
7. Get Sufficient Sleep
Burning the candle at both ends and constantly running on little sleep is bad, especially for those who have anxiety. Regularly lacking restful sleep can intensify our brain’s anticipatory reactions, which causes an increase in anxiety. A study done by UC Berkeley’s Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory showed that anticipatory anxiety in the brain was increased in those who already have anxiety when they were lacking sleep. Aim to get 6-8 hours of sleep nightly for a calm mind and body!
8. Slash the Sugar
Sugar is another enemy of anxiety and should be avoided when trying to achieve anxiety reduction. Eating a lot of sugary snacks and candy can increase levels of lactic acid in the body and cause a release of insulin, which can cause agitation, feelings of anxiety and mood swings. If you love sweets, try to save them for special occasions and stick to fruits for frequent treats!
9. Guard Your Gut
Did you know that there are some studies have shown that anxiety starts in the gut and not the brain as originally thought? Regardless of the school of thought, eating right and getting a good balance in your belly is always a good idea. Talk to your doctor about taking a probiotic to enhance the good flora in your stomach as well as gain a host of other health benefits!
10. Let It out
Another way to reduce anxiety that’s totally free and totally good for you is to let it all out! Feeling anxious and feeling like you have to keep it all bottled up is unhealthy and incredibly difficult. Many people suffer from anxiety, and there’s nothing wrong with sharing your feelings and talking to a trusted friend or family member about it. Talking about things can be a great stress reliever and it can also help you vent your frustrations. You can also journal your feelings or blog about them as well.
There are many things in our control when it comes to anxiety. Even though it seems like there aren’t many things we can do, we can make small changes in our lifestyle to help relieve symptoms and make things a little bit easier. If you have anxiety, make sure you talk to your doctor about it. You don’t have to go through it alone and he/she can help you figure out the best way to treat your condition. How do you deal with anxiety?