Managing anxiety is vital to preventing the development of physical and mental health problems. Exercise, nutrition, plenty of sleep, and reducing stress are all equally important for maintaining good health. Learning how to cope and manage anxiety will reduce feelings of stress, improve sleep, and improve your well-being.
The first step to managing anxiety is to identify what is triggering these feelings of worry and dread. Keeping a journal to jot down times you’re feeling anxious and what caused you to feel symptoms of anxiety is one way to learn what triggers your anxiety.
Some people have found it helpful to talk with a counselor or therapist to assist them in tracking down the source of their anxiety. It helps to have another person’s perspective on a situation since they can offer another point of view on things and assist in looking at the problem from a different angle.
Often times we become blind to our own situation because we’re so accustomed to it always being this way. Other times we are just too afraid to face reality and properly address the source of our anxieties. In either case, we have to be honest with ourselves about our situation.
We must face our past experiences and interpersonal relationships to address the source of our anxiety. This will open up the opportunity to repair your thinking and fight the maladaptive reactions to stress. Once you recognize where your anxiety comes from and how to handle situations appropriately, your future will be more enjoyable with fewer bouts of anxiety and worry,
Tactics for managing anxiety
Once you figure out what is causing the anxiety, it’s easier to find methods for managing it. The following is a list of ways to begin taking control of the anxiety and live a healthier, stress-reduced life:
❏ Regulate serotonin levels with the help of B6 and iron. Foods rich in B6 and iron are great for naturally boosting serotonin levels. Pork, poultry, fish, whole grains, and vegetables are great ways to increase your intake of B6. Iron rich foods like spinach, beans, tofu, and meat will aid your body in producing the happy hormone, serotonin.
❏ Diaphragmatic breathing is an effective method for coping with the symptoms of anxiety and stress. These long, deep breathing exercises utilize the diaphragm to inflate the abdomen in and out making use of the entire lung, resulting in healthier breathing.
❏ Progressive muscle relaxation is a technique used to help relax the entire body by focusing on one section at a time. The tensing and relaxing of each muscle group helps to release built up tension and relieve the body of aches and pains of stored stress.
❏ Exercise can reduce anxiety by releasing endorphins that trigger feelings of euphoria and reduce your perception of anxiety and pain. Increased body temperature from physical activity affects the neurotransmitters in the brain resulting in a boost in mood and relaxation.
❏ Calming activities can also be effective in managing anxiety levels by clearing your mind of the anxiety through focus on an enjoyable activity. Something as simple as coloring in a coloring book or practicing meditation can reduce levels of anxiety and keep your emotional health in check.
❏ Positive thinking plays an important role in controlling your anxiety. In the moment, you may feel like you’re having a heart attack and think you’re going to die. By reminding yourself that it is only a panic attack and it will pass, you can greatly reduce the level of anxiety you are experiencing. Keeping things in perspective will help you see that the current threat is survivable.
❏ A study at the University of Pennsylvania found that chamomile capsules reduced feelings of anxiety and may be beneficial to people with mild to moderate anxiety. Chamomile is a flower that can be consumed raw, like in a salad, brewed into a tea, or dried and used in cooking and baking. Egyptians and Romans used it in tea, salves, and to treat colds.
❏ Avoid alcohol due to its adverse effects on serotonin and other neurotransmitters. This disruption in communication increases the level of anxiety. Nicotine can increase anxiety, as can caffeine. Both are stimulants that trigger our fight or flight response.
Acknowledge the Anxiety
Apart from the multitude of techniques designed to manage your anxiety is a method that focuses directly on the anxiety and its source. Rather than distract yourself with activities or herbal remedies to relieve stress, this method is designed to give you insight and perhaps find a release from the anxiety.
Spend a few minutes indulging the worry. Write down what is causing your anxiety and the way it makes you feel. Think about it for a few minutes, the possibile outcomes or the reasons for this or that. Then let go of it for awhile and put it out of your mind until another day.
By recognizing the anxiety and how it makes you feel, you begin to regain control of the situation. Writing it down and taking time to ponder the hows and whys will give your mind a chance to find resolve and make piece with your anxiety.