Anxiety is something we all deal with from time to time, but for those of us who experience it on a more frequent basis, there are some simple ways to reduce anxiety in our daily lives. Experiencing acute bouts of anxiety is often said to be useful as it can motivate us and often benefit us in different ways. However, there are other times when we experience anxiety that seems to hinder us more than anything else. If you are looking for some easy ways to reduce anxiety in your life, please consider the following tips.
Table of contents:
- deep breathing
- accept your feelings
- eat right
- get enough sleep
- focus on the present
- work it out
- cut back on caffeine
- be positive
You might be thinking that meditating is just not your thing and that it’s a waste of time, but it has some pretty impressive benefits. Meditating is one of the most recommended and proven ways to reduce anxiety. The Journal of Health Psychology published a study that showed that meditating actually reduces the stress hormone cortisol, and the University of Leuven conducted a study and found that mindfulness programs in schools helped reduce symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress in adolescents. You don’t have to go into a full blown meditation session for 20 minutes on your first try. You can start with a few minutes first and build up from there. It might be challenging at first, but believe it or not, you’ll probably start looking forward to it! For some helpful tips on meditating for beginners, check out zenhabits.net.
2 Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is another very helpful and healthy habit to get into. If you’re like me, you’re probably a chest breather. It might feel “natural,” but you’re actually taking shallow breaths and Harvard Health says this type of breathing hobbles the diaphragm’s range of motion so you never really get your full portion of oxygenated air, which can in turn make you feel anxious or short of breath. Deep breathing involves breathing through the belly or diaphragmatic breathing. Basically, your belly expands as your breathe in. Belly breathing can lower your heart rate, reduce blood pressure and help you relax. It takes some practice, but now I do it on my own without even thinking about it. It feels good and it will help you feel calmer. To get started on deep breathing, go to yogalifestylecoach.com.
3 Accept Your Feelings
Being the anxious person that I am, I find it very hard to accept any feelings of anxiety, but it really can help. Think about the last time you started feeling anxious. Did you start worrying or even catastrophizing about what might happen if the anxiety gets worse or you get a panic attack? Now think about the last time you got a headache or a leg cramp. I’m willing to bet that you didn’t spend your time and energy thinking about how your condition is only going to get worse and what you’re going to do in case it does get worse and what everyone will think of you, right? You recognized that you had pain or discomfort and moved on. You can learn to do that same with feelings of anxiety. Just because you are feeling anxious right that minute doesn’t mean it’s going to get worse or that you have to do something about it. Anxiety is just a feeling and it can be very powerful, but stressing about it can often make it worse. Accepting these feelings doesn’t mean you have to like it, but practicing the art of accepting the feelings can make a big difference.
4 Eat Right
What you eat can have a big impact on how you feel, physically and emotionally. Eating food that is rich in certain nutrients is one of the easier ways to reduce anxiety and feel better overall. Foods that are rich in vitamin B, omega-3 fatty acids have been found to help reduce feelings of anxiety and depression and promote mental health. Whole grains have also been found to help regulate levels of serotonin which is the hormone that can help us remain calm. Avoid sugar and highly processed foods as those types food are devoid of nutrients and can often exacerbate symptoms of anxiety and depression.
5 Get Enough Sleep
Getting enough quality sleep is important to optimally function as well as keep symptoms of anxiety in check. Lacking sleep can result in a number of side effects such as hurting cognitive processes, putting one at risk for various diseases, lower libido, place you at higher risk for accidents, cause weight gain, make you forgetful and impair judgment. A study done by the Sleep and Neuroimaging Laboratory at UC Berkeley found that lack of sleep can elevate anxiety levels, with those who are highly anxious being more vulnerable. The researchers recognized that there are limitations in the study as there are some occupations where sleep deprivation is considered the norm. However, if you are anxious, it’s a good reminder to make sure you get to bed at a decent hour and get your rest. Shoot, you don’t have to tell me twice!
6 Focus on the Present
Anytime you feel stressed or anxious, it’s easy to start fixating on what’s going to happen and how we’ll react. But think about whether being preoccupied with the future is actually helpful. Whenever you start feeling anxious, try your best to stay in the now. There’s no need to overwhelm yourself with things that haven’t even happened yet or might not ever happen in the future. An article from Psychology Today on living in the moment brought up a great point about being so trapped in the thoughts of the past or future that we forget to experience and enjoy the present. The author brings up the example of drinking coffee and thinking it’s not as good as it was last week or eating cookies and hoping you don’t run out of cookies. Not focusing on the present robs us of the joy in the present and can help us to not worry about the future.To read the article, visit psychologytoday.com
7 Work It out
Exercise, whether it’s taking a brisk walk or running on the treadmill, can benefit you in so many ways. We all know that it’s good for our health and it’s also a way to reduce anxiety that we can do daily. If you aren’t already working out, don’t worry about the amount of time you have to dedicate to a workout or whether you have the proper equipment or not. Start small and do what you can, every little bit helps and counts! According to The Mayo Clinic, exercise helps release endorphins and feel-good hormones, increases body temperature which has been known to have calming effects and reduces immune system chemicals which are known to worsen depression symptoms. Try a walk, a jog or just throw the ball with your dog.
8 Cut Back on Caffeine
Many of us count on a cup of caffeine daily in order to start our day but in some cases, caffeine can aggravate anxiety. Some people can handle pots of coffee without any problems, whereas some can barely tolerate a cup. We’re all different and just because caffeinated drinks seem harmless, doesn’t mean they are. Be mindful of the foods and drinks you have that contain caffeine and take steps to reduce or cut them out. An article by Advances in Psychiatric Treatment notes caffeine as the most widely used psychoactive drug in the world and there are even caffeine-related disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
9 Be Positive
Or at least try be positive! Having a positive attitude might seem silly when there are so many serious things going on in our lives, but as you probably know there are lots of benefits to positive thinking. Having a positive mindset can help reduce stress, improve your immunity, improve your well-being and help you be more resilient. It’s easy to be negative and it can easily worsen your fears, but choosing to be positive can help you refocus when you’re having those fight or flight feelings and help you feel better about things overall. For a helpful list of thoughts to help relieve anxiety and depression, visit this page, tinybuddha.com.
Being anxious can be a minor nuisance to downright devastating, but they don’t have to be. Be sure you consult your doctor about your symptoms and try out some of these easy ways to reduce anxiety. You might not feel instantly calm, but if you practice these tips over time they should start making a noticeable difference! Do you have any tips on reducing anxiety that you like to practice?
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