Some anxiety in life is normal and is a byproduct of living in the world in which we live, sometimes full of stress and chaos. Not all anxiety is bad. It enlightens you when danger is nearby and it can motivate you to be better prepared and organized. But anxiety can become a daily struggle – and when it does, it is time to take steps to diffuse it before it becomes a major problem. Anxiety disorders that go unchecked can have a huge impact on your quality of life.
1. Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule
Mental health and sleep are closely connected. When you don’t get enough sleep, which is commonly referred to as sleep deprivation, your mental health and psychological state are affected. Getting a good night’s sleep is one way you can improve your mental well-being as well as better manage your anxiety.
If you do not have a regular sleep schedule, it may be time to begin one. Creating a routine can be an effective way to combat anxiety and insomnia. If you get up at the same time each day, it will help your body to begin to naturally adjust your circadian rhythm or internal clock. Going to bed at the same time at night, while setting a bedtime routine that you stick to every night before bedtime, can help your body to relax and expect sleep.
2. Use a Weighted Blanket
If you have difficulty sleeping, you may benefit from using a weighted blanket. Many people who suffer from things like depression, insomnia and even anxiety are finding that weighted blankets offer a form of security that is soothing and beneficial to their overall mental well-being.
A weighted blanket delivers a form of deep pressure stimulation, which is a form of touch pressure that often is described as feeling like a firm hug. Deep pressure stimulation has been proven to calm children and adults who suffer from mental health disorders, including anxiety. One study found that 63 percent of adults experienced lower anxiety after using a weighted blanket to calm down.
3. Find the Right Therapist
Once you make the decision to seek psychotherapy, it is important that you find someone you feel comfortable and connected with. Take your time to find the right therapist, as it should not be a rushed decision.
When looking for a therapist, start by researching to familiarize yourself with the types of therapies for anxiety that are available. You should also look for therapists who have experience in treating patients with anxiety. Although it is not necessary to see a therapist who is licensed, if it is important to you that you see one who is, check their license.
If you find yourself in a situation in which you are not comfortable with the therapist you see, do not feel bad about switching. You may need to see more than one therapist before you determine which is best for you.
4. Talk to Your Doctor about Medication
An anti-anxiety medication may be beneficial for your anxiety and the symptoms you experience. There are many different types of anxiety medication available. If you are not sure if medication is for you, or if you feel you are ready to take a step in the direction of finding anxiety relief by taking medication, talk to your doctor. Whether you take anxiety medication or not is an individual decision between you and your doctor. Be prepared to tell your doctor about your symptoms and anything you have already tried to cope with your anxiety.
5. Reduce Alcohol Consumption
Alcohol is considered to be a natural sedative. It may feel calming at first to drink a glass, but after the buzz passes, your anxiety may return and come on even stronger. There is also a risk of developing alcohol dependence if you rely on alcohol to relieve anxiety symptoms, which can come with a number of health issues on its own.
6. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise is proven to help your emotional and physical health. In fact, one study showed that patients who exercise regularly experience a reduction of 20 percent. Exercise can work as a natural treatment to ease anxiety in some individuals. Some professionals go as far as saying that exercise may be the best medicine that can be prescribed to help patients with anxiety to feel less anxious. Exercise releases natural endorphins while improving mood. The best thing about the anti-anxiety effects of regular exercise is that it isn’t a short term fix. Anxiety relief can last for hours after working out.
Meditation is a great way to eliminate anxious thoughts from your mind, while replacing those thoughts with a sense of calmness. Meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety and stress. One research study at John Hopkins found that 30 minutes of daily meditation may help to reduce anxiety symptoms, acting similarly to an antidepressant.
8. Build a Support Community
Hearing what others who suffer from conditions like you can help you to feel less isolated. Building or joining a support community can also help you to find new ways to deal with feelings of anxiety.
9. Eat Brain-Healthy Foods
Research shows that some foods act as natural anxiety remedies. By eating brain-healthy foods, you may be able to better cope with your symptoms or perhaps even experience relief from them.
Avocado is full of vitamin B6 and helps the body to make neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which has an impact on mood. Asparagus is full of folate. Many people who suffer from anxiety and depression have some degree of folate deficiency.
Blueberries contain vitamin C, which helps to repair and protect our cells. When we become stressed or anxious, our bodies crave this vitamin. Plus, blueberries are full of antioxidants which also play a positive role in terms of anxiety relief.
Omega-3 fatty acids are effective when it comes to helping with anxiety, according to a study from Ohio University. You can find omega-3s in foods like chia seeds, soybeans, salmon and walnuts.
10. Discover Helpful Coping Mechanisms
Coping mechanisms have been proven to be effective for stress management, happiness and overall health. Coping mechanisms help you to manage your anxiety symptoms, by helping you to calm down or to quiet your anxious feelings from taking over. Different people find different things work best for them. Things to try include music, journaling, writing and/or drawing.
11. Avoid Self-Medicating with Marijuana or Other Recreational Drugs
Avoid reaching for drugs like marijuana or other recreational drugs to mask your anxiety symptoms. Although some report that marijuana is an effective method for reducing anxiety, there is also evidence that suggests the opposite. One study found that reductions in cannabis use were linked with improvements in anxiety as well as sleep quality and depression.
12. Quit Smoking
People who smoke often grab a cigarette when they are under stress. But smoking a cigarette during times of stress may only be a quick fix, like alcohol, and could worsen your anxiety as time progresses. Research has proven that your risk of developing an anxiety disorder later in life is increased the earlier you begin smoking in life. Research has also shown that nicotine and other chemicals in the smoke given off by cigarettes can alter pathways found in the brain that have been liked to anxiety.
13. Cut out Caffeine
Caffeine is not a good option for many people – especially those who suffer from chronic anxiety. Caffeine can cause jitters and nervousness, which can exacerbate symptoms of anxiety. Research has evidenced the fact that anxiety disorders may be caused by or worsened by caffeine. Cutting out caffeine may help to improve anxiety symptoms by far.
14. Try Aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is another natural method for reducing your anxiety levels. With aromatherapy, fragrant essential oils are used to promote better health and well-being. Aromatherapy has been proven to help you sleep and relax as well as boost mood – plus it helps to reduce blood pressure and heart rate, which are two effects of anxiety.
15. Breathe Deeply
Studies have shown that breathing deeply in a calm, collected manner, can cause your body to leave its “fight or flight” anxiety mode, and instead enter a calming, relaxed state of being. Try slowly inhaling slowly for four seconds, beginning at your belly and slowly moving into your chest. Then exhale slowly for a count of four seconds. Focus as much as you can on this breathing and rhythm and before you know it, you will feel much more centered.