Have you ever had a problem controlling your anxiety? Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by it and don’t quite know how to deal with it?
Many of us are no strangers to stress and anxiety. As the single most prevalent mental illness in the world, anxiety affects over 40 million adults in the US alone, with more being diagnosed each year (NIMH, 2017). It’s a rampant and growing social concern that needs to be addressed and brought to the public’s attention. So many people around the globe live with anxiety every day of their lives, and most of them go on to struggle with it for the rest of their lives.
There’s no quick and easy cure that can relieve you of your anxiety overnight, but that doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless. Fortunately, there are plenty of positive habits and practices that you can incorporate into your everyday routine to deal with your distress and improve the overall quality of your life.
With that said, here are 7 things you can do to help with your anxiety:
1. Eat a balanced diet
Having a well-balanced diet can do a lot to help you cope with your anxiety. Studies show that low blood sugar levels, dehydration, and overconsumption of processed foods (which contain harmful chemicals like artificial flavouring, preservatives, and so on) can exacerbate certain symptoms of anxiety. So instead of munching on junk food and soda, try eating more energy-boosting snacks like peanuts, bananas, cereal, hummus, and trail mix. Food like asparagus, avocado, almonds, yoghurt, and kale have also been found to be natural remedies for anxiety.
2. Exercise regularly
Exercise is essential in taking care of not only your physical health but your mental health as well. Most experts recommend exercising at least 3-5 times a week for 30 minutes. It will lower your stress, improve your strength, enhance your stamina, release the tension from your muscles, promote better blood circulation, and release a lot of feel-good hormones in your brain that will boost your sense of well-being. So next time you feel overwhelmed with anxiety, do yourself a favour and hit the gym to burn off all that nervous energy you keep inside.
3. Cut back on caffeine
Caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, and it’s found in coffee, soda, energy drinks, and even tea! It’s a stimulant that, when taken in excess, can overexcite your brain, keep you from getting enough sleep, and worsen your anxiety. While tolerance can vary among people, feeling jittery and restless after a cup of coffee or two is a definite sign that you should reduce your caffeine intake. While you’re at it, consider limiting your alcohol consumption as well, and you’d be surprised how much peace of mind it will give you.
4. Find a hobby you enjoy
Having a constructive outlet to redirect all your negativity and help you work through your feelings can do wonders for your mental health and emotional well-being. Try to do something creative, like painting, sculpting, scrapbooking, or playing music. If arts and crafts aren’t really your thing, you could also try to do some volunteer work or join an organization (like a book club, theatre, or a sports team). Doing things that you enjoy and making good use of your time can help you get out of your head on the days when you’re feeling nothing but anxiety.
5. Spend time with your loved ones
It seems like the most obvious thing in the world, but when you let your anxiety get the better of you sometimes, it can lead to a lot of social isolation and loneliness. You push people away because you don’t want to burden them with your problems, but having a good support system surrounding you can make the battle against anxiety a whole lot easier. Spending more time with your loved ones gives you a stronger sense of belonging and boosts your resilience and sense of self-worth.
6. Start writing in a journal
Numerous studies have found that keeping a diary has a lot of therapeutic benefits, and journaling is one of the most recommended coping strategies for dealing with anxiety. Write about what’s worrying you and let it all out in the pages of a private journal. When you’re done, go back and reread it from time to time so you can see patterns in your behaviour and figure out what triggers your anxiety. This can help you react to certain situations better, make you more prepared to face them, or even help you avoid something anxiety-inducing altogether.
7. Schedule your worry time
It may sound a bit counterintuitive, but it’s actually proven to be quite helpful to schedule your worry time. Many experts agree that you should set aside some time from your daily schedule (30 minutes at most) to concentrate on your anxieties. For that specific period of time, let your anxiety-free, acknowledge it, and work towards accepting it. Then, when you’re done, refrain from thinking about it for the rest of the day. Try to do it at the same time every day so you can condition yourself into feeling anxious only during that controlled period of time. Experts also recommend that you do this somewhere quiet and peaceful, somewhere surrounded by nature.
8. Open up to someone
Last but certainly not the least, talk to someone about your anxiety. You might feel a bit embarrassed or uncomfortable at first, but it will do you so much good to get it off your chest. Reach out to a trusted friend, family member, or better yet, a mental healthcare professional, and open up to them about what you’re going through. Don’t be ashamed to ask for help, especially when you start to feel overwhelmed with your anxiety.
There are many more different coping strategies you can try to help ease your anxiety – yoga, mindfulness, meditation, acupuncture, aromatherapy, and CBT to name a few. These are just some of the most common and most recommended ones. There’s no single “right way” to deal with anxiety. It’s up to you to decide and figure out for yourself which ones work best for you. The most important thing is that you keep a positive attitude and never let your anxieties win.
- American Psychological Association (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Washington, DC, USA; APA Publishing.
- National Institute of Mental Health (2017). What Are Anxiety Disorders? Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/anxiety-disorders.shtml
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America (2018). Tips on How to Cope With Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.adaa.org/tips
- McDermott, A. (2017). Natural Remedies for Anxiety: 10 Ways to Reduce Anxiety. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/natural-ways-to-reduce-anxiety#1
- Villines, Z. (2018). How To Treat Anxiety Naturally. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322396.php