Some anxiety is a typical part of life. A lot is constantly going on in our lives, and in the world in general that can trigger certain emotions and reactions in us. Although there are ways to treat anxiety with medical professional help, there are some habits that we can adapt that can help ease or reduce our anxiety. Keep on reading to learn more.
1. Stay active
Regular exercise isn’t just about physical health — it can be a huge help to your mental health, as well. Numerous trusted studies have found that people who are more active are less likely to be stressed or develop anxiety symptoms.
This could be for a variety of reasons. Exercise can divert your attention away from something that’s making you anxious. Also, getting your heart rate up also changes the brain chemistry to create more space for anti-anxiety neurochemicals like serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF)
When it comes to what type of exercise, this is more of a personal preference. If you’re looking to really get your heart rate up, something like a HIIT class (high-intensity interval training) or running is your best bet. But if you’re looking to start off with something with a little lower impact, workouts, like Pilates and yoga, could also be just as beneficial for your mental health.
2. Prioritize getting a good night’s rest
Sleep has been proven time and time again to be an important part of good mental health.
You can make sleep a priority by:
- not reading or watching television in bed
- not using your phone, tablet, or computer in bed
- avoiding caffeine and large meals before bedtime
- keeping your room dark and cool
- developing a good night time routine
- going to sleep at the same time each night
3. Meditate and practice mindfulness
A main goal of meditation is full awareness of the present moment, which includes noticing all thoughts in a nonjudgmental way. This can lead to a sense of calm and contentment by increasing your ability to mindfully tolerate all thoughts and feelings.
Meditation is known to relieve stress and anxiety and is a primary facet of Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Mindfulness meditation is generally the most popular form of meditation. To mindfully meditate, you can close your eyes, breathe deeply, and pay attention to your thoughts as they pass through your mind. You don’t judge or become involved with them. Instead, you simply observe them and take note of any patterns.
4. Eat a balanced diet
Low blood sugar levels, dehydration, or chemicals in processed foods, such as artificial flavorings, artificial coloring, and preservatives, may cause mood changes in some people. A high-sugar diet may also impact temperament.
If your anxiety worsens after eating, check your eating habits. Stay hydrated, eliminate processed foods, and eat a balanced diet rich in complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, lean proteins and healthy fats.
5. Practice deep breathing
Shallow, fast breathing is common with anxiety. It may lead to a fast heart rate, dizziness or light headedness, or even a panic attack.
Deep breathing exercises — the deliberate process of taking slow, even, deep breaths — can help restore normal breathing patterns and reduce stress and anxiety.
In this case, deep breaths means your intention is to breathe into the pelvis, low belly and low back, which engages the diaphragm, rather than activating the chest and neck muscles which when tight can simulate and stimulate the sensation of anxiety.
6. Try aromatherapy
Aromatherapy is a holistic healing treatment that has been used by humans for thousands of years. The practice uses natural plant extracts and essential oils to promote the health and well-being of the mind and body; for example, lavender essential oil is known to ease anxiety and support relaxation.
The essential oils may be inhaled directly or added to a warm bath or diffuser. Some benefits of Aromatherapy include:
- help you relax
- help you sleep
- boost mood
- reduce heart rate and blood pressure
In summary, all of these practices can have a positive effect on mental, emotional, and physical health; however, this information does not replace professional help, and if you are struggling with anxiety it is important to seek professional assistance. Also, please consult with your doctor if you are starting a new exercise program, particularly if you haven’t had a consistent activity level or have any underlying health conditions.
If you are ever interested in exploring professional help, kindly send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to book an appointment with Deedee Poyner, our Registered Professional Counsellor (RPC) and Clarity Breathwork Practitioner.