Everyone experiences stress at some point in their lives, but for some of us anxiety is a condition we have to face on a day-to-day basis. Anxiety disorder is a very real mental health condition which can affect people in many ways, but there are ways of dealing with it. Here are some methods I have found useful in managing chronic anxiety, and hopefully they will benefit you too.
Everyday Steps to Reduce Anxiety
Anxiety disorder is a very real mental health condition which can affect people in many ways, but there are ways of dealing with it. Here are some methods I have found useful:
So what is anxiety?
The anxiety disorders are a group of mental disturbances characterized by anxiety as a central or core symptom. There are many types of anxiety disorder, including panic disorder, OCD, posttraumatic stress disorder and generalised anxiety disorder. All of these cause symptoms such as sweating, worry, stress, racing heart and shortness of breath.
How to deal with anxiety
Here are some methods I have found useful in managing anxiety- they may not work for everyone but hopefully they could make a small difference to some people!
Often the last thing you feel like doing when you are anxious is exercise, but it really does make a difference. Exercise is actually recommended by the NHS as a treatment for mild depression and anxiety, because it releases ‘feel-good’ endorphins that are a natural mood booster. This doesn’t mean you suddenly have to go out for a 5 mile jog- the department of health recommends that people get a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day, and this can be as simple as a brisk walk at lunchtime or after work. As with anything the first step is always the hardest, but once you get started on an exercise regime you may find yourself addicted!
2) Avoid alcohol
Drinking alcohol can mask the short-term effects of anxiety, but it is actually a depressant that will bring your mood down even further. Whilst the odd glass of wine here and there is not going to do you any harm, drinking on a regular basis could be making your anxiety worse. Try cutting back on the alcohol you drink to within the recommended daily guidelines see if it has a positive effect on your symptoms. If you struggle to reduce your intake, have a chat with your GP to see if there is anything they can recommend.
3) Eat well
Cutting out junk food and reducing your intake of fruit and vegetables may sound obvious, but it really does make a difference. A recent study showed that eating 7 or more portions of fruit a day actually improves your mental as well as your physical health. Eating a diet high in fibre and packed full of vitamins will reduce your chances of developing a range of diseases, including many types of cancer. And by cutting back on saturated fat and processed junk, you will have more energy and feel much less lethargic. A healthy body means a healthy mind! Fruit and veg can be expensive, but there are plenty of recipes online that show you how to eat well on a budget.
4) Try cognitive therapy
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is recommended by the NHS as a treatment for depression and anxiety, because it helps change the negative thought patterns in your mind and break the cycle of anxiety. Cognitive therapy can teach you how to practise ‘mindfulness’, which is a useful technique for living in the moment and not thinking too far ahead. Personally, I have found cognitive therapy to be invaluable for treating my anxiety, because it addresses the root of the problem rather than papering over the symptoms. See if you can get CBT on your private medical insurance policy if you don’t want to wait on the NHS- it can be a long queue.
5) Keep socialising
One of the common ways of coping with anxiety is by retreating into yourself and avoiding contact with family and friends, but this is one of the worst things you can do! At times of difficulty you need your loved ones around you to keep your mind occupied and away from the negative thoughts, to prevent them from becoming overwhelming. Keep an active social life as much as you can and don’t give into it.
Finally, one of the most important things you can do, as with any mental health condition, is to speak with your GP to get some extra help. Good luck!