Anxiety is essentially a survival mechanism that alerts us to danger. The feelings of anxiety are common and it is important to note that individuals respond to anxiety differently.
Read on for some simple tips that you can incorporate into your routine.
Addressing Anxiety: How Bad Is it?
Feeling a little anxious from time to time is normal, even healthy. But when these feelings become overwhelming or chronic, professional help and/or medication are important tools to manage anxiety. If you believe your anxiety is disrupting your life, see a healthcare professional for a formal diagnosis.
Anxiety can be complicated to manage, and it can be severe.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) classifies anxiety into three broad categories:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Panic Disorder
- Phobia-related disorders
Check out the NIH website for more detailed information about anxiety disorders.
New brain research provides important and hopeful insights to help manage anxiety.
There are a variety of methods to manage anxiety, and everyone’s health plan can be individualized. But there are general principles that are helpful in managing anxiety and utilizing these tools has been helpful in studies.
An Easy Tip to Help You Manage Anxiety
Imagine two athletes, an amateur athlete versus a professional one. They’re both just about to start a race, and they are generally both at the same level of health.
Let’s imagine asking them how they feel.
- Pro athlete: I feel great, I feel pumped! If I win, great, but if not, I’ll still have fun and learn how to improve.
- Amateur athlete: I feel stressed out. I’m so nervous that I will lose.
Do you see how the two athletes interpret the same situation?
In the case of these athletes, the feelings of nervousness are just their bodies preparing them to take on a higher-stress situation, which is a good thing!
When people can look at their anxiety and interpret it as excitement or getting “pumped,” they perform better and get more energy from their bodies.
In this way, our perception can impact our performance.
So next time you feel anxious or nervous, stop and check-in with yourself — is your anxiety a bad thing, or is this just your body/brain preparing itself to perform?
Try taking that nervous energy and accomplish one task and then take a break. Where we run into trouble is we often try to tackle two or three tasks all at once with no breaks.
Watch my video for a review of a quick tip to manage anxiety.
Other Ways to Cope with Anxiety
To manage anxiety successfully, diet and exercise are also critical factors.
Here are some actionable tips to experiment with if you experience mild to moderate anxiety.
Deliberately Schedule Relaxation Breaks
Time-outs are necessary—scheduling time for activities that lower stress can be great for all health aspects.
- Scheduling some “me time” to focus on a hobby you enjoy.
- Taking a weekly yoga class with a friend
- Take a power nap
Any time you feel anxious, take a few minutes to steady yourself and take some deep breaths. Simply slowing down and being mindful about your breath can help you send calming signals to the brain.
Consider the Brain-Gut Connection
More and more research is coming out about the connection between brain health and gut health. Diet has a significant effect on our day-to-day moods and long-term mental health.
Foods that are good for your brain and your gut include:
- Foods with omega-3 fatty acids
- High-fiber foods
- Foods containing probiotics and prebiotics
Getting enough shuteye is important, but it’s the quality of sleep that counts too.
Try this 5-minute morning ritual to help you fine-tune your sleep/wake cycle.
We all know that exercise can help almost every aspect of our physical health, but exercise is critical for mental health as well.
You don’t have to become a “gym rat” to enjoy the benefits — if you are sedentary, you should take it slow. A 20-minute walk every day is a great place to start and offers some excellent health benefits.
A great goal is at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity activity per week.
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Trying to manage anxiety is challenging, and if you are struggling, it is important to receive support. With lifestyle changes, stress reduction, and in some cases, medication, improvements can be made…
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