Managing anxiety is about finding effective strategies to reduce the intensity and frequency of anxious thoughts and feelings. It involves learning to recognize and challenge negative thought patterns, practising relaxation techniques, and developing healthy coping mechanisms.
By managing anxiety, we can improve our ability to function in our daily lives, reduce stress, and improve our overall well-being.
It’s important to remember that everyone’s experience with anxiety is unique, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to managing it. However, by exploring different coping techniques and working with a mental health professional, individuals can find a personalized approach to managing their anxiety that works best for them.
Take a Deep Breath (Literally)
Breathing is a simple yet powerful tool that can help alleviate anxiety in a number of ways. When we are anxious, our bodies go into a state of fight or flight, which can cause physical symptoms such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, and muscle tension. By focusing on our breath, we can help bring our bodies back into a state of balance and relaxation.
There are a number of breathing techniques that can be helpful in reducing anxiety. One simple technique is to take slow, deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. This can help slow down the heart rate and calm the body and mind. Other techniques, such as belly breathing or 4-7-8 breathing, can also be effective in reducing anxiety.
Exercise is a powerful tool for reducing anxiety and improving overall well-being. When we engage in physical activity, our bodies release chemicals called endorphins, which can help improve mood and reduce stress. Exercise can also help to dissipate pent-up energy and tension, which can contribute to anxiety.
It’s important to note that exercise alone is not a cure for anxiety and may not completely remove anxiety symptoms. However, it can be a helpful way to manage anxiety and improve overall well-being.
There are many different types of exercise to choose from, so it’s important to find an activity that you enjoy and that fits your lifestyle. Some options might include walking, running, cycling, swimming, or yoga. The key is to find an activity that works for you and to make it a regular part of your routine.
Talk to Yourself – in a Good Way
Talking to yourself in a positive and supportive way can be an effective way to help manage anxiety and boost self-esteem. Here are some tips for how to talk to yourself in a more positive and helpful way:
Use “I” statements: Instead of saying “I am a failure,” try saying “I made a mistake, but that doesn’t define who I am.” This helps you to take ownership of your actions and avoid globalizing negative events.
Challenge negative thoughts: When you catch yourself thinking something negative, try to challenge the thought by asking yourself if it is true or helpful. Often, negative thoughts are based on assumptions or beliefs that are not fully accurate or helpful.
Practice gratitude: Focusing on the things that you are grateful for can help to shift your perspective and reduce anxiety. Try writing down three things that you are grateful for each day.
Use affirmations: Affirmations are positive statements that you repeat to yourself in order to counteract negative thoughts. Some examples might include “I am worthy and deserving of love and respect” or “I am capable and competent.”
By talking to yourself in a more positive and supportive way, you can help to reduce anxiety and improve your self-esteem.
It may be the last thing you feel like doing in an anxious situation but plastering a fake smile across your face may help lift your mood and alleviate a bit of discomfort.
Smiling can have a profound effect on our brain chemistry, releasing hormones such as dopamine, serotonin and endorphins which make us feel more relaxed, happier and less stressed. Furthermore, studies have shown that when faced with a stressful situation, smiling activates the prefrontal cortex in our brains and makes it easier for us to regulate our emotions. Smiling is not only good for your mental health, but has also been found to communicate positive messages to others in times of difficulty. It draws attention away from outside stressors, allowing for better communication and connection between people.
Cut Back on Caffeine
Did you know that caffeine can sometimes cause anxiety? That’s because caffeine is a stimulant and it activates your body’s “fight or flight” response. This response is a natural reaction to stress or danger and it releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone” because it helps your body deal with stress by increasing your heart rate and blood pressure.
While a little bit of cortisol is normal and can actually be helpful in certain situations, having too much cortisol in your body can contribute to feelings of fear and anxiety. Caffeine can also interfere with your sleep, which can further contribute to anxiety and other negative health effects.
If you’re someone who gets anxious after having caffeine, it might be helpful to cut back on your intake. You could try gradually reducing your caffeine intake over time, or switch to decaffeinated versions of coffee and tea. Alternatively, you could try some caffeine-free options like herbal teas.
Lean on Your Loved Ones
Conversing with friends and family can be a helpful way to let go of trapped or bottled-up emotions that may be contributing to anxiety. When we share our thoughts and feelings with others, it can provide a sense of release and allow us to feel heard and understood. This can be particularly beneficial when we are dealing with difficult emotions or experiences that we may not feel comfortable discussing with others.
In addition to providing emotional support, talking to friends and family can also help us to gain new perspectives and find solutions to the problems that are causing us stress. When we share our concerns with others, they may be able to offer suggestions or advice that we hadn’t considered before. This can help us to feel more empowered and better equipped to handle the challenges we are facing.
As a side note – Our common language can often provide clues to the underlying causes of our problems and help us find solutions. For example, when we say that it was good to “get something off our chest,” it suggests that we were carrying around a burden or feeling that we needed to release. This language clue can help us recognize that we may have been bottling up our emotions or not expressing ourselves in a healthy way. By acknowledging and addressing these underlying issues, we can take steps to find relief and move forward.
Use Your Imagination
Our imagination can be a powerful tool for relieving feelings of anxiety. When we allow ourselves to use our imagination, we can enter a state of relaxation and distraction that can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
One way to use our imagination to cope with anxiety is through visualization techniques. This involves creating a mental image of a peaceful or calming place and focusing on that image in order to reduce anxiety. This can be particularly effective when combined with deep breathing or other relaxation techniques.
Another way to use our imagination to manage anxiety is through creative expression, such as writing, drawing, or engaging in other artistic activities. These activities can provide an outlet for our emotions and allow us to process our thoughts and feelings in a more positive way.
Brainwaves are important when it comes to sleep and anxiety because they play a key role in regulating these processes. Different types of brainwaves are associated with different states of consciousness, and changes in brainwave activity can affect sleep, mood, and overall well-being.
For example, the brain produces slower, lower frequency brainwaves, such as delta and theta waves, during relaxation and sleep. These brainwaves are thought to play a role in helping the brain and body rest and repair. On the other hand, higher-frequency brainwaves, such as beta waves, are associated with more alert and active states of consciousness. Excessively high levels of beta waves can contribute to anxiety and difficulty sleeping. Therefore, being aware and understanding brainwave activity can be an important aspect of managing sleep and anxiety.
Take a Break From Technology
There are several reasons why someone might want to take a break from technology in order to help alleviate anxiety.
First, technology can be a major source of stress and distraction. Constantly checking emails, social media, and other notifications can increase feelings of pressure and overwhelm, which can contribute to anxiety. Taking a break from technology can allow you to step back from these sources of stress and give your mind a chance to rest and recharge.
Second, technology use can interfere with sleep, which can exacerbate anxiety. The blue light emitted by screens can disrupt the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, making it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Thirdly, technology can be a source of social comparison, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem. Seeing others’ highlight reels on social media can make it easy to forget that everyone has ups and downs and can create a distorted view of reality. Taking a break from social media can allow you to focus more on yourself and your well-being, rather than comparing yourself to others.
Finally and most importantly – just like other vices and addictions, people use technology to avoid feeling unwanted feelings.
For example, someone might spend hours scrolling through social media or playing video games as a way to avoid dealing with feelings of sadness, anger, or anxiety. This can provide a temporary sense of relief or distraction, but it ultimately does not address the root cause of the negative emotions. In fact, excessive use of technology has been linked to increased feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety, making it important to find healthy ways to process and cope with negative emotions.
While it’s natural to want to avoid discomfort or pain, it’s important to recognize that negative emotions are a normal and healthy part of life. Taking the time to acknowledge and process these emotions can ultimately lead to greater emotional well-being and resilience.
St Johns Wort – St. John’s Wort is a common herbal remedy used to treat mild depression and anxiety. It has been found to be more effective than a placebo in improving symptoms of depression and anxiety and has fewer side effects than many anti-depressant medications. It works by inhibiting the reabsorption of serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline in the brain, which helps improve mood. St John’s Wort can also help with general feelings of stress and tension, as it modulates cortisol levels in the body. Studies have suggested that long-term use of St John’s Wort may reduce the severity of symptoms related to anxiety disorders
Magnesium – Magnesium is an essential mineral and plays a key role in helping the body to relax and reduce stress. It supports healthy neurotransmitter function and helps with muscle relaxation, which can help reduce feelings of tension and anxiety. Magnesium deficiency has been linked to an increase in symptoms such as irritability, insomnia, and racing thoughts. Supplementing with magnesium has been found to help improve sleep quality, decrease stress hormones, reduce fatigue and mental fog, as well as help support balanced moods.
Ashwagandha – Ashwagandha is an adaptogenic herb that has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to promote overall well-being and reduce stress levels. Studies have found that Ashwagandha can help to modulate cortisol levels in the body, leading to lower levels of stress and tension. Additionally, Ashwagandha has been found to be effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety, such as nervousness, restlessness and overwhelm. It works by increasing GABA activity in the brain, which helps with mood regulation. When purchasing Ashwagandha make sure to purchase the KSM-66 version.
Kava – Kava is a traditional herbal remedy that has been used for centuries to reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Studies have shown that kava can have a calming effect on both the mind and body, leading to reduced symptoms of anxiety such as nervousness and restlessness. Kava also increases GABA activity in the brain, helping to regulate moods and improve mental clarity. Additionally, supplementing with kava may help to mitigate feelings of worry and fear by reducing cortisol levels in the body.
Rescue Remedy – Rescue Remedy is a herbal remedy designed to ease the symptoms of anxious, stressed, or overwhelmed feelings. It is made up of five Bach flower essences that are believed to help balance emotional health and counteract stress responses. Studies have found that Rescue Remedy helps to relax the body and promote a sense of calmness and resilience in times of emotional distress. It also works quickly to reduce feelings such as worry, overwhelm, and fear. Furthermore, Rescue Remedy is safe for both short-term and long-term use and can be taken as needed when anxiety strikes. It’s available in both pastile and oral spray versions.
Seek Professional Help
It’s a good idea to seek professional help for anxiety when it starts to interfere with your daily life and overall well-being. Anxiety can take many forms, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and specific phobias, and can range in severity from mild to severe. If you are experiencing persistent or excessive anxiety that is impacting your ability to function or enjoy life, it may be helpful to seek the guidance of a mental health professional.
There are a number of resources available for seeking professional help for anxiety in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. Some options include:
United States: National Institute of Mental Health (1-866-615-6464)
United Kingdom: NHS Choices (111)
Australia: Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636)
Canada: Canadian Mental Health Association (1-833-456-4566)
New Zealand: Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand (09 623 4812)
It’s important to remember that seeking professional help for anxiety is a sign of strength and a proactive step towards improving your well-being. A mental health professional can provide support, guidance, and evidence-based treatments to help you manage your anxiety and improve your overall quality of life.
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Aidan is a certified personal trainer and former Managing Director of Progressive Supplements, a company specializing in plant-based and natural gym supplements. With a wealth of experience in health and wellness spanning two decades, he's dedicated to sharing valuable health and fitness insights to support your well-being.
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