Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. One of the most unfortunate things is that it can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. As soon as we start worrying that we’re going to have a panic attack, our heart races and we feel short of breath. And then we worry more because our heart is racing and we’re feeling short of breath.
Some people are more prone to anxiety than others. It’s possible that this is due to genetics or upbringing, but it’s also possible that the differences are just random. If you want to learn how to battle anxiety, you may be able to find different ways that are more effective for you than others. The experts at Forest Healthcare have shared 5 top tips that could help you.
Physical exercise is a great way to help cure your anxiety for many reasons. It helps to take your mind off your worries and focus on the exercise you are doing instead. Exercise effectively reduces stress by increasing the body’s production of endorphins, chemicals that boost mood and act as natural painkillers, and by reducing our stress hormones, such as adrenaline. Finally, exercise increases blood flow to the brain, bringing it more oxygen and nutrients, and potentially helping to offset some of the physical changes caused by stress.
It is likely that you have a good understanding of what triggers you, but in the same breath you might overlook things that you’ve done well. At the end of each day, write down three things that have stressed you out and three things that you’ve done well. They don’t have to be huge, just things that you’ve noticed throughout the day. Try and do this every day for a week or two. Then look back over the list of things that have gone wrong and identify what triggered your feelings of anxiety. You’ll probably find that most of them fall into a few broad themes – there may be just one or two main triggers.
We’re all prone to mood changes when hunger sets in – whether it’s anxious, cranky, lethargic. Keep your blood sugar from dropping by having a quick snack handy for when you need it. These quick snacks are great if you need to feel calm and energised: a handful of almonds or walnuts (high in omega-3 fats), a half cup of berries (blueberries have the highest antioxidant levels) or half an avocado with sea salt sprinkled on top (another great source of healthy fats).
It can be very difficult to learn mindfulness, especially if you are used to thinking about the past and future or if you are consumed by worry and stress. To become more mindful, try to learn deep breathing. Deep breathing can help you relax and get out of your head. It can also reduce your blood pressure and heart rate, which will help calm you down when you’re feeling anxious. When you feel yourself getting stressed, take a deep breath by inhaling slowly through your nose while counting to three; hold it for three seconds; then exhale slowly through your mouth while counting to three again. Repeat this until you feel calmer.
For many of us, the most challenging part of overcoming anxiety is getting a good night’s sleep. This can be due to the racing thoughts, worries and nervous energy that can accompany anxiety conditions. If sleep problems are due to anxiety, making lifestyle changes to reduce worry and stress may help. These changes include avoiding caffeine and alcohol at night and going to bed only when you’re sleepy. Cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia (CBT-I) is another effective treatment for both anxiety and insomnia.