While it’s natural to become anxious about an event or life change, nearly 40 million Americans live with an anxiety disorder, which is more than the periodic worry or fear. Anxiety disorders can range from a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which is severe worrying that’s out of your control, to panic disorder – sudden episodes of the ear, along with heart beatings, trembling, shaking, or sweating.
For those who live with anxiety disorder, it’s vital to look into techniques that range you manage or lessen anxiety in the long term, like talk therapy or medication. But everyone can benefit from other ways to lessen stress and anxiety with lifestyle changes such as consuming a well-balanced diet, limiting alcohol and caffeine, and taking time for yourself.
Plus, there are tips you can follow at the moment when anxiety takes hold of you. Try these 7 tips to relax your mind and help you regain control of your thoughts and feelings.
1: Identify the trigger and manage them
You can spot triggers on your own or with a therapist. Sometimes they can be noticeable, like caffeine, drinking alcohol, or smoking. Other times they can be less noticeable.
Long-term problems, such as financial or 8work-related problems, may take some time to find out — is it a due date, a person, or the situation? This may take some extra help, through therapy or with friends.
When you do identify your trigger, you should try to restrict your exposure if you can. If you can’t restrict it — like if it’s due to a stressful work atmosphere that you can’t currently alter — using other coping techniques may help.
Some common triggers:
- phobias, such as agoraphobia (fear of crowded or open spaces) and claustrophobia (fear of small spaces)
- some chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, or asthma
- a stressful job or work atmosphere
- driving or traveling
- genetics — anxiety could run in your family
- withdrawal from drugs or certain medications
- side effects of certain medications
- chronic pain
- having another mental illness such as depression
2: Stay in your time zone
Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind. So instead of worrying about what’s going to happen, “reel yourself back to the present,” says Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a psychologist and author of Freeing Yourself from Anxiety. Ask yourself: What’s happening right now? Am I in peace? Is there anything I need to do right now? If not, make an “appointment” to check in with yourself later in the day to reconsider your worries so those distant scenarios don’t throw you off track, she says.
3. Take a deep breath
Breathing more deeply can make you feel a lot calmer.
Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed, and place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
4: Exercise regularly
Exercise enables you to manage anxiety and panic attacks.
Thinking about exercising can be overwhelming, but just going for a walk can give you some quality time to yourself. There are a lot of different types of exercise. The important thing is to find something you enjoy.
5: Schedule your worry time
It may seem backward to plan to worry, but doctors propose that you pick a time to think about your fears on purpose. Take 30 minutes everyday to figure out what’s disturbing you and what you can do about it. Have your “worry session” at the same time every day. Don’t dwell on “what-ifs.” Focus on what makes you anxious.
6: Help out in your community.
Spend some time doing nice things for others. It enables you to get out of your head. Volunteer or do other work in your community. Not only will it feel good to give back, but you’ll also make connections that can be a support system for you, too.
7: Change your diet or try supplements
Changing what you eat or taking supplements is certainly a long-term strategy. Research shows specific supplements or nutrients can help anxiety reduction.
- green tea
- valerian root
- kava kava
- dark chocolate (in moderation)
- lemon balm
- omega-3 fatty acids
However, it can take up to two months before your body is actually running on the nutrition these herbs and foods provide. If you’re taking other medications, make sure to discuss herbal remedies with your doctor.
Anxiety is a monster, but it is possible to defeat it without medication. Sometimes, overcoming worry and nervousness is simply a matter of altering your behavior, thoughts, and lifestyle. You can begin with a drug-free method and then speak with a specialist if your symptoms don’t improve or worsen. These drug-free, antianxiety tricks can even help you complement your medication regimen. Do what works for you, and know that anxiety does not govern your life.
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