Anxiety affects millions of people, regardless of age. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reports that almost half of all Australians aged 16 to 85 will experience a mental disorder at some point in life, with anxiety being the most common. About one in seven individuals are struggling with this condition.
Mental tension, fatigue restlessness, and other anxiety symptoms can take a toll on your life. You may find yourself living in constant fear and feeling unable to do the things you enjoy.
Simple tasks, such as going grocery shopping or heading to work, can become a chore. You may feel like you’re having a heart attack before making a speech or leaving home and have a difficult time falling asleep. Nausea, dizziness, weakness, hyperventilation, and chest pain are all common signs of anxiety.
This mental condition affects both your brain and body. If left unaddressed, it may lead to cardiovascular problems, impaired immune function, and chronic pain.
Research also indicates a strong link between anxiety and inflammation. Individuals with anxiety disorders have higher levels of CRP, a pro-inflammatory marker. This association appears to be stronger in people who develop anxiety later in life.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps you can take to control anxiety and get your life back. The following tips can make it easier to manage your symptoms so that you can feel like yourself again.
Let’s dive in!
Keep Physically Active
Regular exercise does more than just keep you lean and trim. It’s also one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety.
Physical activity stimulates the release of dopamine, serotonin, and other “feel-good” hormones, leading to a better mood. At the same time, it lowers the stress hormone cortisol levels, which may further help alleviate anxiety symptoms.
Clinical evidence published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine notes that both aerobic and resistance training may reduce anxiety. Although it’s not as effective as antidepressants, it’s safer and better for your health.
Make a habit out of exercising for at least 30 minutes a day. Go out for a walk, practice yoga, lift weights, or sign up for dance classes. Any of these activities can help calm your mind and reduce negative thinking.
Practice Deep Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing, or deep breathing, triggers the relaxation response in your body and may help decrease anxiety. This practice also reduces mental tension and wards off stress. Plus, it’s easy to incorporate into your daily routine.
There is more than one way to practice deep breathing. Try this technique before progressing to more advanced breathing exercises:
- Sit or lie down in a quiet place.
- Put one hand on your chest and the other one on your belly.
- Take a normal breath followed by a deep breath.
- Inhale through your nose while letting your belly expand. Keep your chest still.
- Exhale through your mouth slowly as if you were whistling.
- Repeat up to 10 times.
Focus on the Present
One of the most effective strategies to calm down your mind is to practice mindfulness. Simply put, try to focus on the present moment.
Close your eyes and pay attention to your body. Focus on your breathing, as well as on what you can touch, hear, and smell. Just notice the things around you and let them be. If you’re at home or in a quiet place, combine this practice with meditation.
Try to incorporate mindfulness into your daily life. For example, you can write down the things you are grateful for while focusing on how they make you feel. Or you can focus on how your body moves and feels when you exercise.
If you’re making a cup of tea, take the time to notice its aroma, the sound of the boiling water, and the warmth of the cup in your hands.
Sleep deprivation fuels stress and anxiety. Think about how you feel the next day after watching TV until 1am. You have little or no energy and even the smallest things may seem overwhelming. This explains why people with chronic insomnia are more likely to develop anxiety disorders.
This relationship goes both ways — anxiety can lead to a bad night’s sleep, while sleep deprivation may worsen anxiety. That’s why it’s crucial to create a bedtime routine and get adequate rest. Aim for about eight hours of sleep per night and try to relax before going to bed.
Turn off the TV, mobile phone, and other electronic devices several hours before you go to bed. Take a warm bath or drink a cup of valerian tea to calm your mind and prepare your body for sleep. Another good choice is lavender tea, which has sedative and anxiolytic effects as well as lavender essential oil. Click here to find out how to order your essential oils.
Anxiety doesn’t go away overnight. The only way to manage it is to make lifestyle changes. From what you eat and how you sleep to your exercise habits, every detail matters. However, the above tips may help calm your mind and relieve tension. Try them today — the results will surprise you!
If you would like to book in to discuss many other ways to manage your anxiety (I’ve been there, I know what it is like), send me a message and let’s chat. You can find me here.