Feeling overwhelmed and anxious isn’t an unnatural or “bad” emotion to have. However, failure to find useful coping mechanisms for those feelings can lead to a series of problems that may have far-reaching, and potentially dangerous effects, causing serious harm to one’s self, career, or relationships. Coping mechanisms are just tools- simple methods to manage your anxiety. Small changes can help you adapt in significant ways, and potentially have a huge positive effect on your quality of life.
For those who feel like it’s difficult to manage anxiety, or for those suffering from certain physical ailments such as chronic fatigue, muscle or chest pain, or an unexplained racing heart, they may be one of the 40 million people in the United States who struggle with some sort of anxiety disorder. Anxiety is the most common mental illness on earth, yet only a third of those struggling with it seek help.
Improving mental health requires a comprehensive approach to wellness. This can mean treatment involving therapy or medications, but for many, simple methods such as exercise, diet, mediation, and other healthy habits can have a significant impact as well. Below are five different methods anyone can use to try and manage their anxiety. If you or a loved one would like to know more about managing anxiety, read on!
Your diet’s role in managing anxiety is more important than you might realize. Leaning towards a steady dose of whole grains, fresh veggies, fruit, and organic meats is much healthier than going with processed foods that tend to be heavy on carbohydrates. Healthier foods will balance your blood sugar levels and are metabolized slower, which in turn help your body’s biometrics maintain a steady, even keel. You’ve probably noticed your heart rate quickening after chowing down a big burger and soft drink, and as you are already probably aware, high heart rate and shallow breathing can help induce anxiety.
Additionally, about 95% of your body’s serotonin receptors are in the lining of your gut and some research shows that they react much more strongly to digestion of healthier. Serotonin, sometimes referred to as “the happy chemical,” is a monoamine neurotransmitter that contributes greatly to your happiness and well-being. By taking simple steps to eat healthier foods throughout the day, you will directly increase your serotonin output and, as a result, reduce the amount of anxiety you may experience.
Obviously a bit of exercise is good for your body, but it is just as important for your mental health as well. Endorphins, which boost happiness and outlook, are released in far greater volume during physical activity, directly countering anxiety which might stem from thoughts of stress, burnout, and lethargy. By reducing anxiety through physical movement, your body will experience a full range of other benefits that go far beyond decreased anxiety. Brainpower, specifically, memory and learning functions, may improve. Exercise will help tire out the body naturally, making it easier to relax and fall asleep, giving your body a full recharge. Being well-rested will give you greater energy, improving your productivity and feelings of confidence and self-worth.
Taking steps to add some exercise to your daily or weekly routine isn’t hard. We aren’t suggesting you run out and join a kickboxing gym or sign up to run a marathon. Look up some yoga, Pilates, or tai chi videos on YouTube the next you have a free moment. Go dancing once or twice a week. Or enjoy a 20-minute bike ride around your neighborhood. If it’s cold where you live, a few cardio movements like jumping jacks, vertical jumps, butt kicks, and high kicks are all simple exercises you can do in your living room.
As humans connected to a natural world, we spend a lot of time disconnected from it. Busy traffic, glaring screens, and long periods of time indoors are just a few barriers that are layered between us and the deep bond we share with nature. Your brain (and your whole body in general) is yearning to escape from the pressures of constant phone notifications and a sedentary lifestyle. These unnatural effects can easily snowball into an unhealthy assortment of physical and mental ailments, oftentimes resulting in anxiety. For many, getting outside is the best way to reset and recharge.
Whether you’re up for a mountain hike or a stroll along the lake, treating your mind to some quiet time in the great outdoors might be just the thing you need to settle your thoughts and focus on what’s really important: your health. Numerous studies have shown that spending time in natural areas does much more than provide a temporary respite from the concrete jungles of steel many of us call home. And how can it not? Nothing beats the smell of a rainy forest, the sound of a rolling river, or a night out under the stars. And if getting out of town is simply not an option for you, consider a stroll through the park, or experiment with bit of gardening or landscaping around your yard. Your brain will thank you for spending any amount of time in a natural, green space of some sort, so do yourself a favor and get outside a bit this weekend.
As popularity of cannabis-related products continues to increase across the US, consumers are discovering the usefulness of cannabidiol (CBD) tinctures for managing their anxiety. The tincture itself is a concentrated extract harvested from cannabis flowers soaked in alcohol, and then mixed with a carrier oil such as coconut or hemp seed oil. The result is a natural product that can serve as a great method for managing anxiety, and the evidence for its effectiveness is on the rise.
By using CBD tinctures in small doses as recommended, many users of the product attest to its effectiveness. The product is natural, non-addictive, and will not make the users feel “high” as they would from smoking marijuana. One of the key factors in the differences between smoking marijuana and using CBD is that CBD tinctures lack tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the critical ingredient in marijuana that over stimulates the brain and causes a high. While support from the medical and scientific communities for CBD tinctures is still growing, many people today are enjoying the benefits of it. It is affordable, and is readily available online. Make sure to buy from a reputable seller with quality products, who provides third-party lab results to prove it. Consider talking with your healthcare provider or doctor if you are more curious about how CBD can specifically help you manage your anxiety.
- Breathe deep…
As discussed toward the top, the world can be a stressful, overwhelming place, and you’re not the only one who feels that way. Anxiety is easily triggered when people begin obsessing about all the little (or big) things that need to happen throughout the day or a given period of time. Your heart-rate quickens, breathing becomes shallow, and the mind tries to mentally tackle every problem simultaneously. Muscles tense, concentration shatters, and your overall mood can sink suddenly and inexplicably.
Instead of letting your brain drag you off into the uncertainties of the future, focus on the present and shutout the chatter by simply taking a deep breathe. A big inhale to fill the belly, a brief hold, and slow exhale is a popular technique for many that is said to slow the heart rate, relax muscles, and helps focus the mind on the present.
Practiced consistently and correctly, many medical professionals believe the benefits of correct breathing go beyond reducing anxiety, and can also improve energy, encourage relaxation, and prevent tissue infection. To put it simply, deep breathing exercises are a wonderful, simple tool at anyone’s immediate disposal for combatting anxiety.
Take some of these new habits for a test drive and see if you can feel the difference. Even starting with one at a time may give you a boost- a new healthy habit is an accomplishment that can often provide a lot of momentum! This year, commit to taking time to care for yourself, take pride in the process, and watch anxiety dissipate.