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Everyone can experience periods of anxiety, some can have further problems with anxiety that need help controlling. According to the World Health Organisation, 1 in 13 people globally suffer from anxiety.
Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. We can all feel anxious at times, but anxiety may be a mental health problem if your feelings are very strong or last a long time. If that is the case, you should speak to a healthcare professional.
The great news is that you can learn to manage your anxiety more effectively through counselling, CBT, medication or implementing coping strategies. Here are 7 daily habits that will help you manage your symptoms and calm that anxiety and help you to feel more in control of your life and your mental health.
Journaling is a powerful form of self-care and can be hugely beneficial to your mental health. Journaling is a great way to shift your perspective. You can write own all your anxieties, thoughts and feelings and clear your head. You can then come back to what you have written with fresh eyes. When you see them down on paper, they can seem less daunting or overwhelming. Using a journal is a great way to observe your thoughts and helps you to connect to your intuition every day.
If you are new to journaling, it can be a daunting task. You ca try small by just simply bullet pointing what your thoughts or worries are. If you are looking to delve a little deeper, the use of journaling prompts can be useful to prompts that can help you to work towards healing and help you to reflect. I have always kept a journal or a diary on and off since I was a young child. I find writing down my thoughts, feelings or even about my day incredibly cathartic. It can be helpful when you are feeling anxious because it focuses your mind on the words you are writing and how the pen feels in your hand and less on those anxious thoughts.
2. Practise Gratitude
Practising gratitude is an effective way to deal with your anxieties. When you regularly practise gratitude, you are allowed to focus on the good things and what positive things you have to work towards.
By choosing to practise gratitude when you are feeling anxious, allows you to shift your perspective. Instead of continuously thinking about your fears, you are thinking of everything that is going well for you at the time. A simple way to practise gratitude is to keep a journal. You can set up a gratitude journal and use it each morning, so that you can start your day on a positive note.
One of the hardest parts of dealing with anxiety is that your minds are constantly racing and you have thoughts rattling around in your head. Keeping a gratitude journal helps to combat anxiety because it allows you to learn about your thoughts process and gives you clarity when you have focused your thoughts elsewhere.
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3. Move More
Moving more doesn’t necessarily mean exercise. Moving in any capacity helps you to raise our heart rate and when you do endorphins are released into your body; it is known as the ‘feel good’ hormone.
Regularly moving every day can help alleviate feelings of anxiety. When you are moving or exercising, it decreases muscle tension which helps to lower your body’s contribution to anxiety. Scientific studies have provided some evidence that people who are more active actually have lower rates of anxiety. Sometimes, when you are experiencing anxiety, it’s because of a build-up of adrenaline. Moving – even if it is just a walk – can help use up the extra adrenaline.
When you are moving and exercise, it is diverting you from the very thing you are anxious about. Exercise activates frontal regions of the brain responsible for executive function, which helps control the amygdala, the reacting system to real or imagined threats to your survival.
If you are not used to moving much, start small and gradually build up your stamina. Endorphins will improve your overall well-being as much as calming anxiety.
4. Keep Your Caffeine Intake Low
Caffeine is a stimulant and that cannot be good for people who live with anxiety. Caffeine stimulates your ‘fight or flight’ response and research has shown that this can make anxiety worse and could even trigger an anxiety attack. If you have too much caffeine, it can leave you feeling nervous, moody and jittery which can keep you up all night which can have a knock on effect.
Making a conscious effort to reduce your caffeine intake and opt for decaf where possible will lessen your anxiety symptoms. When you have fewer symptoms, it enables you to combat your anxieties with strategies and daily habits.
I am a lover of fizzy drinks, so I have been working on trying to reduce the amount of caffeine I am drinking as well as avoiding caffeine after 6pm. I have noticed that I am sleeping much better since changing the times I have been having caffeine.
5. Get A Good Night’s Sleep
Sleep deprivation is detrimental to your mental and emotional health. Researchers have found that lack of sleep activates regions of the brain that is associated with extreme worrying and ‘fires up’ and emotional processing.
Lack of sleep can cause you to feel more anxious affecting your sleep schedule even more, leaving you locked in a cycle of sleep problems and anxiety. Practising good sleeping habits will help you to get the rest your body and mind needs to function the next day. Remember tips like:
- Set a sleep and wake time
- Avoid caffeine after 6pm
- Create a restful environment
- Reduce your blue light exposure in the evenings
- Reduce irregular or long-time naps
When you get deep sleep restores your brain’s prefrontal mechanism that regulates your emotions, reducing your emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety.
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6. Practise Self-Care
Setting aside time to practise self-care is important for your physical and mental health. Looking after yourself enables you to reduce stress and anxiety.
Studies show that people who engage in self-care report lower levels of anxiety and stress. Self-care doesn’t have to be elaborate or complicated; small gestures can tend to your wellbeing and your happiness. When you practise self-care tasks, you are focused on how you are feeling rather that why you are anxious. Self-care practical examples include:
- Taking a bath
- Read a good book
- Going for a walk outside
- Practise yoga
- Get a massage
Making time to engage in self-care is going to allow you that time every day to solely focus on yourself. It will stop you from obsessing over any anxious thoughts you may experience. When you have good strategies to reduce your stress you will find it easier to calm your anxiety.
7. Practise Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re feeling in the moment, without interpretation or any judgment.
Mindfulness can ease anxiety by helping you turn inward to become quiet and still and to focus attention on what is happening in the resent moment rather than our anxious thoughts or fears. It also helps you to learn to stay with difficult feelings without analysing, suppressing or encouraging them. When you are given the opportunity to feel and acknowledge your worries, fears or other difficult thoughts and emotions they will help them to dissipate.
Some examples of mindfulness exercises:
- Focus on your breathing
- Practise mindful meditation
- Slow down and pay attention to your surroundings
- Accept yourself
- Live intentionally and in the moment
Research has shown that mindfulness helps you to reduce anxiety. It teaches you how to respond to stress with awareness of what is happening in the present moment, rather than simply acting instinctively.
You can incorporate many habits into your daily life that you can start to do to reduce your symptoms and calm your anxiety.
There are plenty of good habits that you can practise to help with your anxiety besides help from medical professionals or to use medication. Although stress is an unavoidable part of life, it is important to learn strategies to help calm your feelings of anxiety.