8 ways to ease anxiety
Everyone feels anxious now and then. These worried feelings are usually a normal reaction to stress in our everyday lives. But just because anxiety is normal doesn't mean you shouldn't address it.
Here are some simple strategies you can use to diffuse anxiety in the moment.
1. Step away from what's worrying you.
Take a few minutes to step back from the problem and clear your mind. You might listen to music, watch a funny video or just sit quietly. Spending time in nature also has a calming effect.
2. Take a pass on caffeine and alcohol.
Caffeine may worsen feelings of anxiety. And rather than solving problems, alcohol can affect your health and make your worries worse. Instead, choose a balanced diet with plenty of water, which can improve your energy and focus.
3. Sleep on it.
Getting a good night's rest can improve your mental health, and it helps you think clearly. But you can't get the rest you need to handle anxieties if your worries keep you up at night. Try your best to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Turn down the lights and switch off devices before bedtime.
4. Practice mindful relaxation.
This can be as simple as counting to 10 slowly. You can also try this breathing exercise. Find a room where you can quiet your mind. Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take several deep breaths. Focus on the feeling of your breath slowly moving in and out of your lungs.
5. Get moving when your mind is racing.
A quick walk around the block may help get your mind off your worries. In the long run, getting regular exercise—at least 2.5 hours of moderate activity per week—has many health benefits, including helping you sleep better at night.
6. Talk to a friend or loved one.
Sometimes it helps to talk about what's on your mind, even if your listeners don't have the answers. Having a good social support system may also make you more resilient to stress.
7. Keep an anxiety journal.
It's not always possible or healthy to avoid anxious situations. But identifying your anxiety triggers may help you manage them effectively. Use a journal to keep track of when you feel anxious, along with details about what you're doing at those times.
8. Reframe negative thoughts.
Your thoughts influence your emotions. So, next time you find yourself dwelling on a negative thought, take a moment and try to redirect your mind.
Other ways to manage your thoughts include setting realistic expectations and trying to accept things that are beyond your control.
Remember, there are no perfect people, and you're awesome for doing your best!
Should you be screened for an anxiety disorder?
Is anxiety more than an occasional issue for you? Find out if you might benefit from a screening.
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- American Psychiatric Association. “11 healthy ways to handle life’s stressors.” https://www.apa.org/topics/stress/tips.
- American Psychological Association. “How to help children and teens manage their stress.” https://www.apa.org/topics/children/stress.
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America. “Tips and Strategies to Manage Anxiety and Stress.” https://adaa.org/tips.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Coping with Stress.” https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/about/copingwith-stresstips.html.
- National Alliance on Mental Illness. “Managing Stress.” https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Individuals-with-Mental-Illness/Taking-Care-of-Your-Body/Managing-Stress.
- National Institute of Mental Health. “Caring for Your Mental Health.” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/caring-for-your-mental-health.
- National Institute of Mental Health. “I’m So Stressed Out! Fact Sheet.” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/so-stressed-out-fact-sheet.