Manage Anxiety with These
10 Helpful Tips

manage anxietyLearning to manage anxiety is increasingly important in these stressful and uncertain times.

Even in less trying circumstances, most have us have experienced incidents of fear and anxiety.

Indeed, these emotions are necessary for alerting us to the dangers and threats in our environment and they help keep us safe (fight-or-flight response, also know as hyper-arousal or the acute stress response.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is an emotion of uneasiness, inner turmoil, or impending dread of an anticipated event. It is often accompanied by the physical symptoms of heart palpitations, shortness of breath, nausea, and perspiration.

While anxiety is a normal human experience (healthy), it can also be pathological or maladaptive (unhealthy).

When healthy, anxiety alerts us to danger and threats as we experience feelings of apprehension, restlessness, and physical reactions such as a headache, sweating, heart palpitations and upset stomach. It is periodic and contingent upon certain events or situations.

Mal-adaptive or unhealthy anxiety, however, becomes a debilitating disorder requiring professional help and possibly medication. For this article, we will focus on normal anxiety.

10 Helpful Tips for Managing Anxiety

1. Practice deep breathing. One of the first things to do when you get anxious is breathe.

Here two techniques you can try:

  1. The 4-7-8 method: Breathe in for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Repeat for up to 4 times. If you do the cycle for longer you might get light-headed.
  2. Long exhale: Spend a bit longer exhaling than you do inhaling. Exhale fully, and then take a big, deep breath for four seconds. Then exhale for six seconds.

According to Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, deep diaphragmatic breathing is anxiety-reducing because it activates the body's relaxation response. It helps the body go from the fight-or-flight response of the sympathetic nervous system to the relaxed response of the parasympathetic nervous system.

2. Practice muscle relaxing techniques. You can reduce anxiety by relaxing your muscles. Here is a technique for doing so:

  1. Get comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breathing by breathing slowly into your nose and out of your mouth.
  2. Make a fist and squeeze tightly.
  3. Hold your fist for a few seconds while being aware of the tension you feel.
  4. Slowly open your fingers as your hand begins to feel more relaxed.
  5. Perform the same tensing and releasing with other muscle groups in your body, such as your shoulders, legs and feet.

3. Focus on the moment. Most feelings of stress and anxiety, occur when you dwell on the past or worry about the future. Focusing your mind on the present moment helps relax you.

Enjoy the article: The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

4. Write in your journal. Identifying your feelings and expressing them in your writing is very therapeutic and stress-relieving. Journaling provides clarity and an emotional release of negative thoughts and feelings. It also facilitates your problem-solving skills while broadening your perspective.

5. Eat well, exercise, and get proper sleep. When you are not well, sleep-deprived or not getting enough exercise, your body is unable to withstand stress and anxiety.

Exercise produces endorphins that counteract anxiety, even as getting proper nutrition has been shown to reduce anxiety. As an example, foods rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and B vitamins release neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine that help safely manage anxiety.

6. Understand that anxiety is a normal emotion. Don't let yourself become anxious about being anxious. Anxiety is a natural emotion that evolved in us to help anticipate and deal with danger and threats. While it may be an uncomfortable feeling it is meant to alert us.

7. Use aromatherapy. Aromatherapy, in the form of oil, incense, or a candle, as well as being very soothing, helps ease anxiety by activating certain receptors in your brain.

Many experts suggest that aromatherapy activates smell receptors in the nose, which send messages to your brain through your nervous system. Essential oils such as lemon, chamomile, lavender and bergamot are examples of a few that can be used.

8. Listen to music. Listening to music is wonderful for relieving anxiety and stress. Research has shown that music has a profound, positive effect on the body, mind and emotions. Music therapy is a growing healthcare field in which uses music for healing.

9. Practice Positive Thinking. Studies have shown that by thinking positive thoughts instead of negative ones you can increase the size of the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) which is involved in the cognitive processes of decision making. Professor Florin Dolcos, a lead researcher says:

"If you can train people's responses, the theory is that over longer periods, their ability to control their responses on a moment-by-moment basis will eventually be embedded in their brain structure."

Having more control over your cognitive processes reduces the predisposition for anxiety.

10. Laugh more. Laughter is the best medicine. Whereas anxiety damages the immune system, laughter releases dopamine and other feel-good chemicals in the brain. It also lessens the stress response by relaxing your muscles and boosting your overall mood.

Benefits of Managing Anxiety:

✔ Improves your overall health - you look and feel better
✔ Increases productivity - you become more focused and productive when not anxious
✔ Increases overall happiness - you enjoy life more, relationships are better, you are more engaged
✔ Increases motivation - you are more willing and able to accomplish your goals
✔ Better decision making - your cognitive functions operate better without anxiety

Unhealthy ways to deal with anxiety:manage anxiety

⮞ Alcohol
⮞ Drugs
⮞ Too much caffeine
⮞ Overusing medications
⮞ Wallowing in negativity
⮞ Denial or ignoring problems
⮞ Reckless behaviors such as resorting to gambling, shopping excessively, etc.

Negative effects of anxiety:

Short term:

⮚ Inability to concentrate
⮚ Irritability
⮚ Muscle Aches
⮚ Nausea
⮚ Shortness of breath
⮚ Trembling and Twitching
⮚ Dizziness
⮚ Fatigue
⮚ Headaches

Long term:

⮚Premature memory decline
⮚Increased risk of stroke
⮚Harm to the central nervous system
⮚Weakened immune system
⮚Can lead to depression

Taking time to learn how to manage anxiety is effort well spent because of the considerable physical, mental, and emotional health benefits it generates.

The Benefits of Regular Exercise
Live in The Moment
9 Optimal Ways to Boost Your Immune System

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