How To | Reduce Anxiety
How To | Reduce Anxiety
Many of us don’t know how to deal when we have a panic attack, overthink a situation or feel uneasy about an upcoming event. Many of us also don’t know that these are all forms of anxiety. On average 1 in 4 people – 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men will experience anxiety in their lifetime. Tackle anxiety one step at a time, from its mildest form to its most extreme, with these tips.
What is Anxiety:
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness or unease about something with an uncertain outcome. Anxiety and stress are physical and emotional responses to dangers we perceive (real or not). Sometimes we anticipate the future with scary predictions that are not necessarily based on truth. When anxiety and stress are not controlled it can create physical and emotional symptoms. These symptoms may include feelings of restlessness, worry, poor sleep, heart palpitations, sweating, tight muscles, shallow and short breathing.
What causes Anxiety:
There is no one cause of anxiety but rather a number of risk factors that contribute to developing anxious tendencies and an anxiety condition.
- Family history of mental health conditions
- Personality factors i.e. easily flustered, timid, like to control, lack of self esteem
- Ongoing stressful events i.e. work, pregnancy, relationships, shock, trauma and death
- Physical health problems including diabetes, asthma and heart disease
- Other mental health conditions i.e. depression
- Substance use i.e. overuse of prescribed drugs and alcohol
Top Tips to Reduce Anxiety:
Meditation and yoga are relaxing exercises that create mental and physical awareness, helping you increase the amount of grey matter (a central component of the nervous system controlling your muscles, senses and emotions) in the brain rewiring your body to stress less. Not only is exercise a great way to clear your head, but it also allows you to release endorphins, which make you happy!
Get enough sleep
Sleep deprivation and inconsistent sleeping patterns deeply affect your physical health and contribute to increased anxiety and stress. Often this sort of disruption in your sleeping pattern can lead to a vicious cycle, since anxiety leads to disturbed sleep. Get your body used to a sleeping pattern that gives you at least 7-8 hours of shut-eye each night.
Pre-packaged snacks are always easier to eat, especially when you’re stuck for time or on the run. However, these sugary processed foods increase your symptoms of anxiety. Try to steer yourself towards fresh produce that are full of nutrient rich vitamins and minerals. Fresh fruit, vegetables, protein, healthy fats and whole-grain carbohydrates are great for your digestive system as well as maintaining good mental health. Some studies have linked vitamin B and omega-3 to reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety while whole-grain carbohydrates regulate your serotonin levels, helping you to remain calm.
Imagine this - You’re running 5 minutes late for work and you’re about to leave the house when you realise that you’ve misplaced your keys…Yep, it’s happened to us all, but this is one morning ritual that we could do without! Prepare the night before – from your outfit to what you’re having for lunch – and avoid a frantic panic or a morning meltdown by planning ahead. By being prepared you not only give yourself more time, but also allow yourself to clear your mind of anxiety producing scenarios before they occur. Making schedules, keeping a diary, noting to-do’s and making habits are all simple and foolproof ways of having panic free days.
Learn to Breathe
One of the markers of being anxious is your heartrate. When your heartrate spikes your breathing becomes quicker and your breaths become shorter; this limits the amount of oxygen that travels to your brain, impairing your decision making skills and potentially causing panic attacks. To prevent such attacks, a useful tool is to become aware of the state of your breathing. By consciously lengthening and strengthening each breath that you take signalling your mind and body to relax.
Yes, we know how odd this sounds! When you’re feeling anxious about something or something is weighing heavily on your mind, we suggest committing to only 20 minutes of worry time. Think of all the possible outcomes of the situation for 20 minutes and then distract yourself with something else and try to visualise something positive. By creating scenarios and figuring out actions to each you are mentally preparing yourself for each possibility, so when the time comes you’ll be ready no matter the outcome of the situation.
Speak to someone
Having a reliable support system is important is so important as it mentally and emotionally fulfilling. Whether it be a medical professional or your family and friends, speaking about how your feeling will help to further your relationships by creating mutual understanding. Sharing your feelings will help you to work through your problems step by step, causing you to make fewer rash decisions and leading you towards more logical resolutions, keeping you and your mind happy, healthy and stress free.