Methods for dealing with anxiety
If you are dealing with anxiety remember that you are not the only one, there are 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK alone. There are millions of people like you who struggle with daily tasks that may seem simple to others. People who may be afraid to even leave the house because the constant anxiety they feel renders them fearful of the outside world. But, this is no way to live in an age where we now understand how anxiety works and how to help deal with it!
There are many scientifically proven ways to help you to deal with your anxiety and panic attacks. Such as a balanced lifestyle, counselling and even specific foods that can help to boost your mood. There are also tips based on your personal anxiety triggers and therapy that can make dealing with anxiety much easier.
As an experienced counsellor specialising in anxiety, I know following these top tips can help to kickstart a process that will help you to be less anxious and more yourself again.
Eating A Balanced Diet
Believe it or not, diet can be very important when trying to control your mood and anxiety. By choosing a healthy diet, you can help manage your anxiety levels. Changing what you eat might seem hard at first, but little swaps can make a huge difference. Try and choose complex carbs, such as brown rice and sweet potatoes, that can boost the chemical serotonin that calms the brain. Breakfast is an important meal for boosting your energy and keeping your glucose levels steady. Try and pick high protein foods such as eggs and oats. This means your mood is more likely to stay high, decreasing the chances of panic attacks and anxiety. Staying hydrated is also a key way to decrease mood changes and manage anxiety. Hydration makes you feel more awake and therefore more prepared for the day.
On days where you are feeling particularly anxious, eating food with Omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and whitefish can help decrease your nerves. Also, Magnesium can help manage your mood which can be found in dark chocolate and spinach. You should try to avoid fattening foods, refined sugars, and fried foods as they can boost anxiety symptoms. Eating habits don’t cause anxiety but they can make it worse. Therefore, by changing your diet you can prevent and limit symptoms, making dealing with anxiety easier.
Limiting Alcohol and Caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine can play a role in your anxiety levels. So, by decreasing your intake you can lower your chances of panic attacks. Both alcohol and caffeine can affect your sleep, making you feel more irritable and edgy. Alcohol is actually a depressant, and if you drink too regularly, you can permanently increase your anxiety and even bring on other mental health issues.
Drinking coffee, especially in the evenings, can keep you up late at night. This can increase your anxiety levels as you need a good night’s sleep to improve your mood. By avoiding coffee, or switching to a decaf version if you can’t give it up fully, you can really make an impact. You will see a change in your anxiety control and an improved night sleep.
Getting Enough Sleep
When suffering from anxiety getting a good night’s sleep can be extremely difficult. Your adrenaline levels are consistently higher than ‘normal’, which can keep you tossing and turning throughout the night. Your mind is basically going through the ‘fight or flight’ response all the time. So how could you possibly sleep during this? Your body can’t relax because it thinks it might need to flee quickly at any moment. On average an adult needs between 7 and 9 hours sleep to function at their best. So how are people suffering from anxiety meant to achieve this?
There are many little things that can help you drift off to sleep. Reading a light, non-mentally taxing book can tire your eyes and help you fall asleep quicker. It also helps keep your mind busy and stimulated so you don’t drift off into anxious thoughts. I also recommend trying to relax your body before bed by having a hot bath, drinking herbal tea, or having some nice smelling candles – but be sure to blow them out before you fall asleep! Also, avoid exercising or eating in the hours leading up to bed to increase your chances of having a restful night.
Exercising is a great way to clear your mind and reduce your anxiety. It works by releasing endorphins, also known as the happy hormones. This gives your mind and mental state an immediate boost after the workout. It can also improve your mood for the rest of the day. Exercise relieves stress and tension whilst also boosting your energy levels – helping you to find the strength to tackle tasks that you may be finding hard to do. It is a natural and effective defense against the anxiety that can help you to get moving and avoid anxiety-ridden thoughts.
The concentration and effort most workouts need can prevent you from dwelling on negative thoughts and gives you more clarity. Try to notice the movement of your feet on the treadmill or the rhythm of your breathing as you lift weights. By focusing on your body you allow both your physical strength to improve as well as your mental health. You can also set yourself fitness goals and targets that can keep you focused on something other than your anxiety.
Avoiding Anxiety Producing Stimuli
Although this tip seems obvious, it is very important if you want to successfully deal with your anxiety. Controlling your surroundings and situations as much as you can, can help prevent the symptoms of anxiety. If you feel the onset of a panic attack when in big crowds, dark alleyways or meeting new people, try to avoid these situations. Take the bus rather than the train to work, or drive yourself, or go with a colleague to avoid the busy rush hour bustle alone. Avoid walking at night or at least not alone, and take the long way home if it means you are on quieter streets with lights. Also, try and find out in advance about any new people you will be meeting in the future – ask friends or family for more information so they don’t seem like a stranger.
Tips like this can make dealing with anxiety easier, and often speaking to a therapist can help you to come up with more solutions. When you become more confident you can gradually open yourself up to the experiences that upset you. Once you better understand the cause of your anxiety then you can enter into controlled environments where you can overcome the feelings. Keep in mind that you need to be prepared, supported and in the right mindset before trying this as if you aren’t ready it could make you worse.
Meeting With a Therapist
If your anxiety is dramatically affecting your life or you have been struggling for a long time, often seeing a therapist is best. By talking to an expert who has helped people just like you, you can find the reasons behind why your anxiety started and work together to overcome them. Therapists never judge and they are there to listen and give advice. But most importantly they keep everything you say in confidence. Often people are afraid to share their anxiety issues as they are worried that they would look silly. But with a therapist, you are speaking to someone who genuinely understands the issues you face and can support your recovery.
Deciding to go to a therapist can be hard as you are openly admitting that you suffer from anxiety to someone that you don’t know. Previously, you may have tried to deny this or even hide it from the people you love. But therapists work with you to help you overcome your fear of facing your anxiety and finding the triggers that cause your panic attacks and other symptoms. By working together you can overcome the worst parts of your anxiety, find the cause and manage or reduce your anxiety for the long-term.
If you think that you would benefit from speaking with a therapist about your anxiety then contact me today for more information. I specialise in people-centred therapy and am based near Warrington. My office is easily accessible from Chester, Altrincham, Knutsford, Northwich, and Tarporley.