Do you find yourself wide awake at night, stressing about all the things you have to do tomorrow? And added to the list are all the tasks you didn’t get to that day, as well as everything that might go wrong?
If so, your anxiety might be in overdrive.
Some people have feelings of stress and worry before a big event or during a stressful time in their lives. That’s normal.
When your anxiety keeps you from living a regular life, though, there’s a problem.
What’s Anxiety, Anyway?
Everyone suffers from a level of anxiety at some point in their lives. Anxiety disorder, on the other hand, occurs when those worries don’t go away. Usually, they’ll progressively get worse unless (and until) you seek treatment.
This disorder is the most common mental health problem in the country. Over 40 million adults suffer from anxiety regularly. Although it’s “highly treatable,” most people don’t seek help.
Part of the reason for dealing with anxiety without outside assistance is that people still fear the stigma. But anxiety disorders are so commonplace in this post-pandemic society that they’ve become normal.
Dealing with intense worry and fear about the future isn’t fun for anyone. To help reduce the pressure of these feelings, there are a few things you can do on your own. These five tips will help you treat your anxiety naturally.
Talking is the most natural way to get our feelings out. There’s something about releasing our worries and fears that makes them seem more manageable.
If you have a trusted friend or advisor you can turn to; their ear might be all you need to work through a problem.
You can also check with your insurance or employer to see if they have mental health benefits. This type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) has helped people with anxiety disorders for decades.
CBT is a field of psychotherapy that teaches individuals how to think and react to things that produce anxiety. By using strategies to rule your mind, you can also control your behavior.
2. Move Your Body
When your mind is rushing through the million things you need to do, exercising is the last thing you want to deal with. This is particularly true if you’re not someone who typically enjoys working out.
But it’s also the best gift you can give yourself to get out of your anxious rut.
Exercising Your Cares Away
There are quite a few reasons why this works, both mental and physical. To begin with, when you’re exercising, you’re less likely to think about what was worrying you.
Physically, when you move your body, it releases the tension in your muscles, which contributes to your stress. From there, the chemicals in your body start changing.
Boosting your heart rate changes the chemistry of your brain and produces things like serotonin — the “feel-good” hormone.
The more consistently you exercise, the more you learn how to control your fight-or-flight brain responses. The higher the physical activity level, the less anxiety you’re likely to feel.
What Kind of Exercise You Should Do
Remember, exercise doesn’t have to look like a bodybuilding workout at the gym. Whatever you enjoy doing, from walking in nature to dancing in your living room, go ahead and get moving!
3. Break Bad Habits
Ironically, we tend to pick up bad habits as a way to relieve anxiety. While the instant high of them might calm you down temporarily, the long-term effects actually increase your stress.
Nicotine, for instance, gives your brain a quick hit that acts like dopamine. It also relieves the symptoms of withdrawal when you’re trying to quit smoking. But it can increase your heart rate, which triggers anxiety. And the stress of knowing you really shouldn’t be smoking (or using other nicotine products) is a constant worry.
Caffeine is another bad habit that increases anxiety symptoms. As with nicotine, it speeds up your heart rate. It also creates a pattern of a caffeine high, followed by a crash that makes it harder to deal with everyday stressors.
If you suffer from anxiety disorders, you should cut alcohol altogether. It’s classified as a depressant for a reason. At first, you might feel good when you’re drinking. But when it gets into your system, it brings you down.
It’s never easy to quit a habit, especially those that are as addicting as these three. If you’re serious about treating your anxiety, though, these three things have to go.
4. Rest Your Mind
Your brain and your heart are the two organs that work nonstop in your body. Give them both a rest by taking time in your day to sit quietly.
Restful slumber can help your brain regulate your emotions. When you’re not getting enough deep sleep, it’s harder to control how you respond to unexpected situations.
Calming Your Brain To Reduce Anxiety
Your prefrontal area is where the brain controls your emotions. If you want to manage that fight-or-flight freakout, you need to get some sleep.
Of course, if your mind is racing, it’s hard to fall asleep sometimes. Many people who have anxiety also have insomnia or other sleep disorders. Meditation offers a lot of similar benefits as sleep.
Give Meditation a Try
A few minutes of mindfulness in your day helps you focus your attention without distractions. This gives your mind the chance to make sense of all the thoughts spinning through it.
Besides mental clarity, there are lots of physical advantages to meditating, too. This article from the Mayo Clinic shows why you should add this practice to your day.
5. Change Your Diet
If you can’t seem to handle your stress no matter what you do, there could be a physical reason.
When your body isn’t getting the right fuel, each system in it begins to fall apart. This means that your brain is working harder to do the basics, like circulate blood everywhere.
It doesn’t have the energy to focus on your external stresses or how you should be handling them.
How To Fuel Your Body To Lower Anxiety
But this part is an easy fix.
A few tweaks to your diet like these gives your body the nutrition it needs to do the physical and mental jobs:
- Eat complex carbs instead of simple carbs. Swap out plain white bread for whole grains, eat oatmeal, and avoid sugary food.
- Eat a balanced and healthy breakfast to give you energy for the whole day. Include protein of some kind, such as an egg or meat.
- Drink lots of water to stay hydrated. When you’re dehydrated, everything in your body suffers, including your attitude.
- Take multivitamins or eat balanced meals.
Getting to know your moods after you eat can help, too. Some foods interact with our bodies and make us more irritable. If you have a food sensitivity, it could be causing extra anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal part of the range of human emotions. It shouldn’t be your default setting, though.
If you deal with anxiety on a regular basis, these five tips will help you reduce the symptoms naturally.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Copper Beech Harrisonburg to help them with their online marketing.