Anxiety affects millions of Americans, and everyone deals with it differently. The causes are so varied that it’s impossible for one coping method to work for everyone; luckily, there are several healthy ways to deal with the onset of anxiety and the side effects it brings along.
One of the most important things to remember is that you are not alone. Many people suffer with anxiety silently, while others need therapy or a support group in which they are free to talk about their feelings with others who understand.
Whatever your needs are, be sure to address them in a way that makes you the most comfortable. Talk to your doctor or therapist about the best methods for coping with your personal situation, and work out something that feels right for you alone. Here’s what worked for me.
Meditation / Yoga
Yoga is a wonderful exercise for anxiety because it provides a way to get the body moving, stimulate blood flow, and deepen your breathing. Plus, just like any form of exercise, it releases endorphins, one your body’s ‘feel good’ chemicals, boosting your mood and helping with, if not alleviating, depression and other mood disorders.
Meditation has proven helpful for many people suffering from anxiety, including those living with PTSD, because it allows them to focus on the present instead of worrying about the past and the future. Over time, just like your physical body grows more fit and limber from yoga, this stress-relieving ability to return to the present and watch your thoughts becomes like a healthy muscle — strong and easy to flex.
Getting adequate rest is imperative when dealing with anxiety. Lack of sleep can make an individual feel moody, restless, and impulsive, and it can also lead to issues at work or school when concentration lessens.
Make sure you’re getting an average of eight hours every night; if it’s difficult for you, try taking a hot bath or shower just before bed with lavender soap or Himalayan pink salt. Some who suffer with anxiety use wine or other substances to help them relax, but substance abuse is closely linked to anxiety and PTSD. It’s best to find a healthy way to cope first.
Watch Your Diet
Food and drink can have a big impact on how you feel, so make sure you limit caffeine and alcohol, as they can trigger anxiety attacks.
Eat well-balanced meals with few refined sugars and more whole wheat, and curb eating after eight p.m., as this can aggravate sleeplessness.
Make Good Decisions
Though this often isn’t spoken about much in the context of anxiety, making good decisions about who to spend time with and where to go when you’re outside your home will have a lasting impact on your anxiety levels.
For instance, if you have a friend who is reckless or impulsive and doesn’t make good decisions, it’s likely that spending time with that person will trigger a panic attack or anxiety. It’s okay to want to know exactly what the day holds for you if that makes you feel in control, so let your friends know what your needs are ahead of time. Or, if necessary, do some weeding.
Making good choices about the way you spend your time and taking care of yourself can go a long way toward helping you feel better each day. Remember that sometimes, simply talking to someone who understands can help immensely.