Some anxiety is perfectly normal. It's a byproduct of living a busy fulfilling life.
Anxiety is not all bad. It makes you aware of danger, motivates you to stay organized and prepared, and helps you calculate risks. However, when anxiety becomes a daily recurrence, it's time to act before it snowballs.
Unchecked anxiety may greatly impact your quality of life. Take control by trying out the ideas below.
Regular exercise isn't just about physical health – it can be a huge help to your mental health, as well.
Research as shown that people with anxiety disorders who reported a high level of physical activity were better protected against developing anxiety symptoms.
This could be for a variety of reasons. Exercise can divert your attention away from something that's making you anxious.
Getting your heart rate up also changes the brain chemistry to create more space for anti-anxiety neurochemicals, like:
- gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)
- brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), regular exercise leads to an enhancement of concentration and willpower, which can help certain anxiety symptoms.
Steer Clear of Alcohol
Drinking alcohol may take the edge off at first, since it's a natural sedative. However, research suggests there's a link between anxiety and alcohol consumption, with anxiety disorders and alcohol use disorder (AUD) occurring hand-in-hand.
Heavy drinking can interfere with the balance of neurotransmitters, which can be responsible for positive mental health. This interference creates an imbalance that may lead to certain symptoms of anxiety.
Anxiety may temporarily increase in early sobriety but can improve in the long run.
Alcohol has also been shown to disrupt you body's natural ability to sleep by interfering with sleep homeostasis. And a good night's sleep is incredibly helpful when combating anxiety.
Quit Smoking Cigarettes
Smokers often reach for a cigarette during stressful times. Yet, like drinking alcohol, taking a drag on a cigarette when you're stressed is a quick fix that may worsen anxiety over time.
Research has shown that the earlier you start smoking in life, the higher your risk of developing an anxiety disorder later. Research also suggests nicotine and other chemicals in cigarette smoke alter pathways in the brain linked to anxiety.
If you're looking to quit, there are lots of different ways you can get started. You can take up habits that may distract you in order to create an environment that works for your smoke-free-life.
Limit Caffeine Intake
If you have chronic anxiety, caffeine is not your friend. Caffeine may cause nervousness and jitters, neither of which is good if you're anxious.
Research has shown caffeine may cause or worsen anxiety disorders. It may also cause panic attacks in people with panic disorder. In some people, eliminating caffeine may significantly improve anxiety symptoms.
If you're looking to cut back or completely cut out caffeine, you'll want to start by slowly reducing the amount of caffeine you drink daily.
Start replacing these drinks with water to quench the thirst. This will not only satisfy your body's need to drink a liquid, but it will also help flush caffeine from your body and keep you hydrated.
Prioritize getting a Good Night's Sleep
Sleep has been proven time and time again to be an important part of good mental health.
You can make sleep a priority by:
- only sleeping at night when you're tired
- not reading or watching television in bed
- not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed
- not tossing and turning in you bed or going to another room if you can't sleep
- avoiding caffeine, large meals, and nicotine before bedtime
- keeping your room dark and cool
- going to sleep at the same time each night
Meditate and Practice Mindfulness
A main goal of meditation is full awareness of the present moment, which includes noticing all thoughts in a nonjudgmental way. This can lead to a sense of calm and contentment by increasing you ability to mindfully tolerate all thoughts and feelings.
Research from John Hopkins University suggests 30 minutes of daily meditation may alleviate some anxiety symptoms and act as an antidepresant.
Eat a Balanced Diet
Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or chemicals in processed foods, such as artificial flavourings, artificial colouring, and preservatives, may cause mood changes in some people. A high-sugar diet may also impact temeratment.
If you anxiety worsens after eating, check your eating habits. Stay hydrated, eliminate processed foods, and eat a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins.
Practice Deep Breating
Shallow, fast breathing is common with anxiety. It may lead to a fast heart rate, dizziness or lightheadedness, or even a panic attack.
Deep breathing exercises – the deliberate process of taking slow, even, deep breaths – can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce anxiety. Important note: your exhale breath should be longer than you inhale breath.
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that has been used by humans for thousands of years. The practice uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to promote that health and well-being of the mind, body, and spirit. Its goal is t enhance both physical and emotional health.
The essential oils created by the natural plant extracts may be inhaled directly or added to a warm bath or diffuser. Aromatherapy is suggested to:
- help you relax
- help you sleep
- boost mood
- reduce heart rate and blood pressure
Some essential oils believed do relieve anxiety are:
- clary sage
Sometimes anxiety and depression can be so severe and chronic that medical intervention is required in the form of anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. However, these medicines can cause negative side affects over time and you can become reliant on them.
There are more natural alternatives that can be quite effective, such as:
- Ashwagandha, Ashwagandha is a popular adaptogen and has been used for thousands of years to relieve stress and anxiety. Withanolides are the active ingredient in ashwagandha. Aswagandha benefits work best when it includes a high concentration of withanolides.
- Holy Basil, all parts of the holy basil plant act as an adaptogen. An adaptogen is a natural substance that helps your body adapt to stress and promotes mental balance.
- Maca, classified as both an adaptogen and a superfood, maca is a root vegetable used to boost energy and libido. It's also revered for its ability to provide hormonal balance, reducing stress and anxiety.
- Rhodiola, contains more than 140 active ingredients, with the two most potent being rosavin and salidroside. People in Russia and Scandinavian countries have used rhodiola for centuries to treat: anxiety, fatigue and depression.
- Passion Flower has been traditionally used to help with sleep. People use passion flower for anxiety and anxiety.