Anxiety is a mental health concern that is on the rise in America. About 40 million adults in the U.S., ages 18 and older, are affected by an anxiety disorder. It is normal to feel apprehensive or slightly worried in some situations, but when these fears begin affecting or interfering with your daily functions, you may need to take steps to help you manage the situation. To help reduce some of your anxious feelings, consider these tips below.
1. Identify Your Stressors
The National Alliance on Mental Health identifies the common experience in anxiety disorders is persistent, excessive fear or worry perceived as a threat in situations that are not threatening. It is helpful to know what triggers your anxiety. Is it certain situations? Is it certain thoughts? Is it a specific event? Are you overloaded with work? Are you trying to juggle too many things? Take a moment and evaluate when you feel the most anxious. Everyone has different experiences and levels of anxious feelings.
2. Take a Moment
Mental health is important and taking control of your mind is key in helping to reduce anxious feelings. Pause for a moment. Start turning negative thoughts into positive ones. If you always think of the worst-case scenario, take time to imagine all the positive ways a situation could go. This is a mental training game and the more you do it, the easier it will become and the better you will get at opening your mind up to positive scenarios. Also, take time to focus on your breathing. There are several tricks you can do, but zoning in on each breath takes the focus off your buzzing brain and really forces you into the moment of the day. This can help reset your mind and put you on the right track to accomplish what you need to get done.
3. Walk Away From Arguments
We may not realize it, but sometimes the relationships we have with people can be the cause of our stress. If you find yourself fighting with a significant other, a good friend, or even a coworker, just walk away. Americans average about 19 arguments a month. That means about 11 days out of each month are free of feuds. Instead of falling into the trap of arguing, learn how to talk disagreements out and settle problems with a constructive discussion. When we fight, we often don’t take the time to listen to the feelings and perspectives of the other person involved. This can lead to volatile and frustrating feelings that trigger stress, and therefore anxious feelings. When in doubt, walk away, cool down, and come back later when you are open to having a talk.
4. Get up, Get Active
We’re always pushing kids to get away from the computer and off the couches to establish a healthy way of living. Make sure you are doing the same. On average, a person will sit on a couch for four hours a day. If you have an office job, this makes for quite a lot of sitting and probably time lost in your thoughts. Get up and get active! Exercise is important to your physical health as well as your mental health. Exercise releases endorphins which are the feel-good hormones that can boost your mood. Exercise also forces you to think about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it thus pulling you out of your head and into the moment. Much like taking a moment to focus on your breathing, exercise resets your thinking.
5. Do Something Fun
If exercise isn’t necessarily fun for you, find something that is! This could be a passion of yours, a simple pastime you find enjoyable, or even something completely new. Maybe you love riding horses or going for a hike. More than 87 million U.S. adults find recreational boating an enjoyable time with friends and family. Learn how to swing dance so you can socially dance wherever you go. The options are endless, but find something that piques your interest. It may be beneficial for it to be a social activity as well. Not only will you distract your mind with an activity, but you can talk things out with a close friend or go off on tangents that will prevent your anxious feelings from building.
6. Change Your Diet
Your diet can greatly affect your mood and energy levels. If you are not feeling good physically, this will take a toll on your mental health as well. Two things to avoid or at least back off of include anything with alcohol or caffeine in them. Caffeine is an upper which can exacerbate anxious feelings. Alcohol is a downer that can lead to depressive feelings that cause you to worry. Cutting back on sugary sodas, coffee, chocolate, and alcoholic beverages may be ideal until you understand what is causing your anxious thoughts.
7. Take a Vacation
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is taking a vacation and giving yourself time to relax. A change of scenery invites a distraction from stressors and also gives you a time to reflect on life. Expose yourself to new experiences. This will give you new perspectives and a chance to evaluate what might be causing your anxious feelings.
Take Control of Your Life
Don’t let anxiety control your life. Take the time to identify what it is that triggers the anxious feelings. Once you know those situations, you can take control of how you want to deal with them.
Take time to turn negative thoughts into positive ones. Retrain your brain and if need be, focus on your breathing to bring yourself into the present moment. Walk away from arguments until both of you are ready to discuss things quietly. Make sure to exercise or do something fun that will distract you from your thoughts. Change up your diet to eliminate excessive caffeine and alcohol intake. Lastly, find a place to vacation that will invite new experiences and time to reflect on life. Commit to some of these small steps and help yourself reduce anxious feelings.