10 ways to reduce anxiety.
Reducing anxiety begins with taking care of yourself and establishing healthy habits. The choices that you are making in your diet, fitness routine, sleep patterns, and relationships all play a role in your overall well-being. Most people forget that the mind is a part of your body, and therefore is influenced by your food, behavior, and environment. A healthy body works to support a healthy mind.
You have probably read an abundance of “QUICK TIPS TO REDUCE ANXIETY!!!” I know I see them everywhere, and it makes me shake my head every time. I don’t believe in quick tips for anxiety. Each person with this disorder is on their own path to recovery, and it’s not a simple road. Learning what works best to reduce your anxiety is a journey, but it’s one that you can handle. You have this.
Here are 10 ways to help reduce anxiety, keep in mind that therapy and medication are essential for some cases.
- Get enough sleep. But not too much.
Getting enough rest is an important part of our health. Most people need to sleep 7-9 hours a day in order to be at their best. Just remember that sleeping too much is also a problem, which can leave you feeling sluggish. Your brain heals while you sleep, and so a healthy mind needs plenty of rest.
- Eat a well-balanced diet.
Eating healthy makes you feel better overall, and helps to improve energy and concentration. Eating a diet full of greens, lean meat and fruit helps to ensure that you are getting all of the nutrients and vitamins that you need. The food you put in your body plays a huge part of the way that you feel and how your body operates. Give your body the proper fuel it needs to function properly. Stay away from sugar and processed foods as much as possible.
- Limit the caffeine.
Yes, I am looking at you coffee lovers. While a cup or two of coffee is okay, it is best not to go overboard. Avoid sodas and energy drinks, which are overloaded with both sugar and caffeine. Caffeine increases your heart rate and can leave you feeling worse, instead of giving you that energy boost you were hoping for.
- Avoid alcohol and marijuana
Alcohol and marijuana alter your mind, and mess with your serotonin levels. They might make you feel better while using them, but the following day you are likely to be even more anxious. People who use alcohol and marijuana to cope with their anxiety are at risk for substance dependence and abuse. If you are struggling with severe anxiety, it is in your best interest to practice sobriety, especially if you are taking anxiety medications.
- Practice Mindfulness
It’s amazing what mindfulness can do for you. One tip I love is to keep a notebook and write down one good thing that happens to you each day, no matter how small it is. This way, when you are having a very anxious day you can go back and look at a list of good things that have happened to you recently. It’s a great way to chase out negative thoughts. Practicing mindfulness also means keeping track of your thoughts. When you have an anxious thought, acknowledge it, but decide to let it go. Do your best to take your mind elsewhere. The more conscious you are of your anxious thoughts, the more you can learn to dismiss them as they arise.
- Get outside
Even if you don’t want to. Even if you don’t feel like moving around. Get outside and breathe in some fresh air. People with anxiety tend to coop themselves up inside. It’s not good for you. Go for a walk, visit a park, read a book at the beach, or just sit in your backyard. Perhaps go for a longer walk each day, or stay outside for a longer amount of time. Isolation is not going to help you.
- Put the nervous energy to use
Anxious energy can be great at times, learn to embrace it. Use the nervous energy to clean your house, organize, or accomplish tasks that you have been avoiding. Most people with anxiety are also perfectionists, and avoid doing things for fear of failure. Start doing things that you have been putting off. You will thank yourself.
- Address your avoidance behaviors
Avoidance behaviors are things that you do because you think they make you feel better, but in the long run they are making your anxiety worse. Do you avoid driving in cars, going to social events, or applying for new jobs because it scares you? Sure, you feel better short term, because you are avoiding something that scares you. But in the long run, you are just making that fear worse and worse, by reinforcing it with avoidance behaviors. Take on the things that scare you.
No, I’m not going to tell you that if you go for one jog you will suddenly feel like a million bucks. BUT, having a workout routine is great for you health, gives you something to look forward to and occupy your mind, and has been found to reduce anxiety levels over time. My favorites are running and yoga.
- My most essential tip is this: Be patient, and allow yourself to fail. You are not perfect, but no one else is, either. Your anxiety will not go away over night and no deep breathing method is going to suddenly change your life. It’s just not. However, building a foundation of healthy habits will in time, help improve the symptoms or reduce anxiety altogether. Give yourself time, be kind to yourself.
What are your favorite ways to reduce your anxiety?