7 Key Tips To Manage Anxiety
If you regularly deal with stress and anxiety, there are several ways to help you manage it besides medication. Try these seven key tips to help you manage anxiety and calm your mind.
1. Control Your Thoughts
You probably think that because they’re your own thoughts, you have full control over them. But here’s the shocking truth: you only control a small part of your conscious thinking process! A large portion of your thoughts is done on a subconscious level.
Don’t freak out just yet! There’s still hope.
You can learn how to control your thoughts, especially negative thought patterns. It just takes practice and willpower.
First, you have to realize that negativity and fear are your brain’s way of protecting you from the unknown. However, fear doesn’t make sense if you think about it.
Plus, your negative thoughts are only there in your mind to effectively keep you safe and sound right where you are.
Your brain isn’t evil. It’s just doing the best it can with the limited knowledge it has. To break this cycle, you have to consciously want to change.
Check out these ideas to get you inspired:
• Use daily positive affirmations and mantras
• Stop your imagination in its track and bring yourself back to reality
• Practice mindful meditation every day
• Give your emotions a name to weaken the effect they have on you
2. Volunteer Your Time
Studies show that when we help out others, our brains release ‘feel-good’ chemicals. These are the hormones responsible for making you feel good and lowering stress levels.
Helping out others also gets you out of your head and focusing on someone else for a while. This gives you a bit of a perspective and makes you see things clearer.
Not only that, but it’s an excellent opportunity to meet new people with similar interests. That can be a great support system as well.
3. Get Some Sleep
Getting good quality sleep is a vital part of managing anxiety. To do that, sleep experts recommend getting both quantity and quality sleep. Though it varies from person to person, the average is between seven to nine hours of restful sleep each night.
The problem is that while sleep is a nice remedy for anxiety, anxiety can make it difficult to fall asleep. To get around this problem, create a sleep routine.
I`ve put together a few ideas to help you get started:
• Create a bedtime schedule that begins about an hour before you get into bed
• Make sure your mattress is firm yet comfy
• Set the thermostat to a nice cool temperature range between 60 and 67℉
• Turn off screens 30 – 60 minutes before bedtime
4. Take a Deep Breath
Multiple studies emphasize the importance of breathing slowly as a way to calm your body and mind.
When you take deep breaths from your diaphragm, it sends your brain a message letting it know you’re not in danger. In turn, your brain signals your organs to relax and take it easy.
Experts recommend you lie on a flat surface. Then, put one hand on your belly and the other on your chest.
Start by taking in deep, slow breaths through your nose and hold for a second or two. Then, release it through your mouth.
However, if you’re at work and feeling anxious about an upcoming presentation, you can do these breathing exercises right where you are. Just follow the same steps as you’re sitting in your chair or standing in a quiet corner.
You can repeat them as many times as you want. However, their effect will probably kick in after a minute or two.
5. Cut Back on Caffeine and Alcohol
Drinks that contain caffeine are what experts refer to as ‘uppers.’ This stimulant forces the nervous system to go into overdrive. That’s why we feel energized and all jazzed up when we drink coffee and energy drinks.
On the other hand, alcohol is a ‘downer,’ which lowers inhibitions. These depressants reduce the arousal of different parts of the brain.
If taken in moderation, each one on its own, that’s fine. The problem is when they’re consumed one after the other in a short span of time. Then, your body won’t know whether to go up or down, so it’ll just go into an anxiety-driven state.
Reduce their intake as much as you can. But, on the other hand, if you can avoid them entirely, especially when you know there will be stress triggers, then all the better.
6. Get Up and Move
The advantages of doing any type of physical activity for 15 – 30 minutes three times a week are too many to count.
Of course, exercise isn’t just about keeping fit and healthy. It’s also about maintaining our mental and emotional well-being. Doctors often recommend it to manage anxiety and lower feelings of stress.
The best part is it doesn’t matter what you do. Just make sure you pick something you look forward to each week.
Another good idea is to find anything that requires a group. Sometimes it can get lonely exercising by yourself. So, why not join a cycling team or find a hiking buddy?
This way, you meet new, interesting people and create a support system. At the same time, you get to work your muscles and let off some steam. It’s a win-win!
7. Understand Your Triggers
Look for the things that make you feel most anxious. It could be people or places. It could even be certain smells that you associate with stress and panic.
Make a list if you need to. Then, find ways to ease your anxiety and lower that feeling of nervousness. You can do this in two ways. One is to avoid the situation or person altogether, thus eliminating any panic attacks.
The second way is to be ready for it. Go into the situation knowing there will be triggers, but also knowing you’re strong enough to confront them head-on.
The latter may sound unnerving. But, trust us, it’s easy to do once you’ve had a bit of practice.
Once you know what causes your anxiety, you can learn to control it rather than the other way around. As a result, you’ll be more prepared to take action when it affects you next time.
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