Anxiety is something almost everyone deals with, to varying degrees. For some people, it’s an annoyance that pops up when they’re overly busy or have to do something stress-inducing, like interview for a job. For the most severe sufferers, it can become a vicious cycle, as anxiety over the prospect of having a panic attack becomes the very thing that triggers the attack. If you struggle with anxiety, here are six things you can change about your daily habits to reduce its effects.
DO Sleep At Least Eight Hours A Night
A lack of sleep is a major contributor to anxiety, as your body interprets the lack of rest as an indicator that you’re in physical danger. Getting a solid eight hours of sleep, or more if you can manage, will greatly reduce the feeling of free-floating anxiety that sleep deprivation can exacerbate.
DON’T Isolate Yourself
When we’re struggling with feelings of nervousness, we usually avoid the company of others, withdrawing inward to try to deal with the issue ourselves. The problem with this ought to be apparent — you’re the one with the anxiety, so limiting your dialogue to your own anxiety-ridden thoughts is counterproductive. Instead of isolating yourself, reach out to the people who care about you and let them know what you’re going through. They can commiserate, provide advice, or at the very least remind you that you’renot alone.
DO Go Outside
As is the case with the previous tip, anxiety often compels us to avoid the outside world for fear of encountering more anxiety-inducing situations or stimuli. But studies have shown that staying cooped up indoors only makes the problem worse. Your lack of exposure to sunlight and fresh air won’t help your anxiety, and will probably make it worse.
DON’T Stare at Your Phone
Your phone can be a retreat from reality, a distraction from the bubbling font of panic at the forefront of our minds, but in the long term, it only makes anxiety worse. The phone can become a security blanket of sorts, and when we depend on the constant stimulation of Twitter or Facebook, we don’t develop healthy strategies for coping with stress.
DO Learn to Meditate
The ancient practice of meditation has its place in many cultures, who have recognized its potential for improving mental health and getting in touch with nature. Believe it or not, meditating can greatly reduce your anxiety. If you have racing thoughts, an app like Insight Timer or Headspace can provide guided meditation, with sounds and instructions to focus on. Many sufferers of anxiety report that a meditation session can head off a panic attack
DON’T Binge on Junk Food
Not only does “comfort eating” have bad effects on your weight and blood pressure, butit can also actually increase your anxiety! The gut-brain connection means that unhealthy foods can lead the body to produce more stress hormones and fewer hormones with the opposite effect. Instead, try incorporating more fermented foods, like kefir, into your diet, as these have been shown to fight anxiety.
Stress is a fact of life, but severe anxiety doesn’t have to be. Improve your life by taking putting these steps into place today.
Clinicians who provide Counseling for Anxiety:
Jeff Harris, lpcc, lcadc, CTC
270.926.6957 x 104
Jeff Harris is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, Licensed Clinical Alcohol & Drug Counselor, and Certified Temperament Counselor serving clients in our Owensboro office.