Anxiety can be crippling, and one of the things about it is it can make you feel uncomfortable in your mind, body, and soul. It can be like a soft, furry kitten that wants to curl up in bed with you. It’s cuddly and purrs and feels great, except it can grow into a mountain lion that wants to destroy your life and everyone you love. Managing crippling anxiety doesn’t need years of practice or hundreds of dollars.
Here are a few tips on what you can do to manage anxiety
Anxiety is a real problem for many people, and it can be crippling. It can make you feel like your life is constantly on the verge of disaster, like you’re helpless to do anything about it, and it can rule your life.
Recognize that It’s your body’s natural response to a threat
The very first step is to realize what your body’s natural response is when it’s in danger. When you are feeling anxious, the first thing to do is accept whatever is going on in your body as that is what’s going on at the moment and know that it could easily change, and have hope that it can change for the better.
Suppose you don’t accept what you’re experiencing and believe it could easily change. In that case, it will be harder for you to move forward because you will be fighting against the natural response by trying to control your breathing or stop yourself from sweating, etc. Instead of trying to control your thoughts or feelings or suppress or avoid them, accept whatever you are experiencing and know that it could easily change.
Accept It as what Is happening In the moment
Accepting anxiety when it comes is not easy. However, every time you experience an anxiety attack, you can choose to fight it and make it worse or accept it for what it is — a physical sensation. Accepting the physical sensations of anxiety takes the fear out of the situation and allows you to be in the moment with your feelings so that they can go away sooner than later.
The best way to accept the feelings of anxiety is to let them be there. For example, if you feel like crying, then cry — let yourself do that. If you feel like running and screaming, then do that. If crying and screaming are not an option at that moment, then practice deep breathing to bring yourself back into a state of calmness and acceptance of what is happening on the inside. As a result, your body will calm down faster because you are not fighting against it.
Recognize the symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety is the body’s reaction to stress. When a person experiences anxiety, their heart rate increases, and they may begin to sweat. Sometimes, a person’s breathing gets shallow and tense. The symptoms of anxiety vary from person to person, but you likely feel like your body is in overdrive when you have anxiety.
When you experience some of these symptoms, take note. Recognize that your body is reacting to stress and take deep breaths to calm down.
Control your breathing
A simple way to reduce anxiety symptoms is by controlling your breathing. You can do this by following the 4-7-8 breathing technique developed by Dr. Andrew Weil:
- Let out all of your breath via your mouth for four seconds.
- Inhale via your nose instead of your mouth for seven seconds.
- Inhale and exhale thoroughly for eight seconds.
- Repeat the movements three more times for a total of four breaths.
By focusing on your breathing and slowing it down, you can reduce the feeling of anxiety and bring yourself back to a calm state. It will also help lower your heart rate and give you more control over your thoughts.
Next time you feel anxious, try taking slow deep breaths while counting to ten in your head. You should notice that you will start to feel more relaxed after a few minutes.
Identify and eradicate stressors
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your schedule or responsibilities, you need to take some time to identify the specific things that are causing you stress.
Once you know what’s stressing you out, it’s time to take steps to eliminate those stressors from your life completely or reduce them significantly. Start by eliminating unnecessary commitments from your schedule to have more time for self-care and relaxation activities.
If certain people in your life cause you stress and make you feel anxious, limit the amount of time you spend with them or stop seeing them altogether. All relationships require some effort, but if someone makes you feel stressed out instead of happy and relaxed, it’s not worth it.
Exercise is a powerful tool for managing anxiety. When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, improving your mood and acting as a stress reliever. It also enhances mood-boosting neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine, which helps relieve feelings of depression.
Studies show that exercise is one of the most effective ways to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that three months of aerobic exercise can be as effective as medication for treating major depression or generalized anxiety disorder.
The key is to find an activity you enjoy and do it regularly — ideally, every day or nearly every day. Even if you only have time for 10 minutes at a time, that’s fine. A consistent routine is more important than your workouts’ duration or intensity level.
Get plenty of sleep
While you might think that your mind is the cause of your anxiety, there’s a good chance that your body is actually to blame. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can mess with your head. You may think you’re getting enough sleep, but many people don’t realize how much sleep they need to function properly.
If you find yourself tired or exhausted during the day, then it’s likely that you didn’t get enough sleep. Try going to bed earlier and see if that helps. Getting more rest will help keep your anxiety levels down.
Practice Yoga/Meditation/Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR)
When you feel anxious, try practicing these techniques to help calm your body—yoga and meditation help by teaching you how to breathe and relax. When you feel anxious, you often start breathing rapidly and shallowly, making an anxiety attack worse. By learning how to control your breathing and take deep breaths, you’ll be able to relax when you feel anxious.
PMR works in much the same way as yoga and meditation, except it also involves tightening certain muscles in your body and then relaxing them. This helps distract your mind from worrying about something that may not even happen or is beyond control and gives your muscles some exercise.
rREST sessions are a great way to fast track your growth towards full emotional control.
Practice positive thinking
Anxiety can be a powerful force, but a positive attitude can overcome it.
We all have doubts and fears, but we don’t have to let them take over our lives. As long as our fears don’t become so debilitating that we can’t live our lives, we need to keep going. Getting out of bed every day is a triumph against anxiety itself.
It’s important to remind yourself that everything is going to be fine. The most effective way to do this is by practicing positive thinking. Every time you start thinking negatively, try to turn it around and think positively instead.
This will make a huge difference in how you feel and how you approach the world. The more positive thoughts you have, the less anxious you will feel.
Limit alcohol and caffeine
Many people use caffeine to get themselves going in the morning, but did you realize that caffeine can worsen your anxiety? Experts point out that caffeine over-stimulates the nervous system, leading to higher levels of anxiety.
Everyone is different when it comes to what makes us feel good or bad. Having a glass of wine or a beer can help some people relax, while others may find that they are more anxious the next day after drinking. If you tend to become more anxious after consuming alcohol, limit how much or even stop drinking altogether. The same goes for caffeine. Some people have a cup of coffee and go about their day with no issues, while others have one cup and immediately struggle with increased anxiety.
You may not be able to stop drinking alcohol or consuming caffeine entirely, but limiting your intake of these substances can help you manage your anxiety. Focus on what is best for you and your anxiety levels, and make sure you get a good night’s rest.
There’s nothing wrong with taking a step back if you know that you need to. It’s okay to ask for help, and it’s certainly okay to accept help if offered. Like many mental illnesses, anxiety disorder is something that you should never stigmatize. Keep your head up, stay true to yourself, and do what you have to keep yourself healthy, emotionally and physically.