How to Manage Anxiety
Written by Lauren Turville
Every one of us experiences some level of anxiety in life due to stresses from work, school, personal life, trauma or finances. Anxiety for some is more severely experienced due to a mental condition leading to irrational phobias or panic over every day activities. Although we all feel anxiety in some form or another, it often does not have to keep us from functionally regularly or participating in the activities that we love! Continue reading to learn how to successfully manage any level of anxiety you are experiencing.
While some people may need to seek professional help, or take medication to get their anxiety under control, certain lifestyle changes can also make a difference.
Take care of your physical self
Although anxiety is a mental disorder, taking care of yourself physically can make a big difference. Exercising, eating well, and getting enough sleep are three things experts from Mayo Clinic say can help reduce your stress levels.
- Exercise is a powerful stress reducer. Being physically active pumps up your endorphins–chemicals in the brain that make you feel more positive and calm.
- Eat well. When feeling anxiety, it is extremely important to avoid alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. According to the Mayo Clinic, although these things my have immediate calming effects, they make you feel more jittery and nervous in the long run, and may interfere with sleep. Additionally, it is important to have a balanced, healthy diet, as this can help your overall mental and physical health.
- Sleep. New research suggests that sleep deprivation can cause anxiety disorders. Getting enough sleep, however, can help to ward off stress. Sleeplessness can lead to poor performances at work and school or other important responsibilities, increasing levels of anxiety and stress in association with these things.
Do things for you
Experiencing anxiety can make it difficult to take the time to participate in activities that we love. We sometimes become too stressed to remember to do what may actually reduce our stress and anxiety levels. If you love to read, hike, or paint, don’t forget to do these things! Even meditating and taking time to ponder can make a difference. Dr Madhav Goyle of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine explained that even a few hours of meditation a week has been shown to help. When meditating, it is suggested to focus on letting go of regrets from the past and anxious thoughts toward the future. Anything that is calming to you will help reduce your anxiety caused by other stressors in your life. No matter how busy you may be, it is so important to make time for the little things.
Nothing will make your anxiety worse than being negative about it. It happens to everyone, don’t get down on yourself! Use your energy to find things that may help reduce your stress levels and give yourself credit when you overcome something that would normally make you anxious, no matter how long it takes you. Now, I’m not suggesting that you ignore the bad things, but studies show that thinking positively actually reduces your distress levels and makes you calmer when handling situations that make you anxious. So put a smile on your face, and find the good!
Steps to Break Out of Anxious Thought Patterns
- Accept that you’re anxious.
- Realize that your mind doesn’t always operate rationally.
- Question your thoughts. Pick out the unrealistic and uncontrollable ones.
- Focus on the present, and put past and future out of your mind.
Important note: None of these things can be used as a complete substitute for chronic and unmanageable anxiety, although they may make a difference in your overall mood and stress levels. If you have tried all of these things and are still suffering, seek out the help of a therapist and begin taking appropriately prescribed medication.