Anxiety is one of the most common reasons individuals seek mental health support. It can have a significantly negative impact on one’s life, health, and relationships if left untreated. However, anxiety is also a treatable condition. If you haven’t yet, check out this earlier post about worry and anxiety.
This purpose of this post is to provide readers with some basic go-to strategies to decreasing anxiety. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not work for the next person, and what works for you one day may not work the next time. Be willing and open to trying new things, and listen to yourself, your thoughts, and your body. Only you truly know what you need and what will help you to feel better.
BREATHE. I cannot emphasize this enough. You must supply your brain and body with oxygen. When you breathe deeply, you also release tension in your body. Too much tension will only exacerbate your anxiety. When you breathe deeply, you are also able to release anything negative (emotions, thoughts, energy) that you may be hanging onto.
Take REALLY good care of your body. SLEEP is extremely critical to your emotional and mental health. Make sure you are getting the amount that your body needs (for some people, 5-6 hours is enough, while others may need 8-9 or even more). MOVE YOUR BODY - just do some sort of exercise (even if all you can manage at this point is a short walk around the block). Exercise can do so much to improve our psychological well-being. Not only will exercise give you a boost of feel-good endorphins, it can provide a sense of confidence and empowerment to face life’s challenges. There are many articles, blogs and books that provide the support for these statements, so hop on google if you want to read more! The final thing I’ll say about taking good care of your body in order to decrease anxiety is that you must give your body and brain the fuel it needs to function optimally. Again, there are many sources online and in print where you can read up on using nutritional support to combat anxiety. The main points are: give your body what it really needs to deal with stress and worry, and allow your body the chance to do what it is naturally designed to do: to balance out the chemicals and hormones in your brain leading to a more stable mood. Check out this book to get started: http://tinyurl.com/hak3g6l
Engage yourself in activities you enjoy. When you are really immersed in something fun and enjoyable, you probably aren’t as focused on your anxiety. This can either be at home by yourself, or out and about with a group of people. Do what makes you feel happy, at least once a day.
Mindfulness and Meditation: Get out of your head and into your body. There are endless resources out there on this topic, so I won’t spend much time on it. The idea is that anxiety is most often caused by unhelpful thoughts, the mind and body being disconnected, or the nervous system being dysregulated in some way. The more you can connect with your body, the more you can understand what’s happening and what you need.
Psychotherapy/Counseling: Sometimes anxiety gets to the point that we feel we cannot manage it on our own. Working with a therapist or counselor can be a beneficial way to explore the nature and cause(s) of the anxiety, as well as learn and practice new strategies to manage the anxiety within the context of a safe and neutral space.
Medication: for some, anxiety can be severe and difficult enough to manage that chemical intervention is necessary. There are varying opinions about using medication to manage mood states, so do your research, consult with your doctor, and seek second opinions if necessary.
Again, what works for one person may not work for the next person, and what works for you one day may not work the next time. Listen to yourself, your thoughts, and your body. Only you truly know what you need and what will help you to feel better.
**If after reading this you are in need of support or wanting to explore your anxiety further, please feel free to reach out via email for a referral, resource, or if you have any other need or question.