Anxiety isn’t easy to live with and at times can be quite unbearable, interfering in day to day life for many people. Most of us can feel anxious from time to time, but for some, anxiety can be ongoing without any particular motive or cause. This is where counselling can help and making some positive lifestyle changes. Anxiety needs to be addressed otherwise the repercussions can impact people’s ability to function normally and put mental and physical health at risk.
Below I have shared some positive strategies to assist those who live with ongoing anxiety. They may be helpful to incorporate into your routine to help you cope with those tough times.
- Keep life as simple as possible; be mindful of how much you take on at any given time and try to minimise stress, otherwise the impact could lead to serious physical and mental health issues, thus leading to burnout. I find that keeping a to-do-list or a journal is a great way to manage things that require attention on a daily or weekly basis. By writing things down, it becomes visual, giving a better understanding of what one can handle and a sense of satisfaction once it’s completed.
- Exercise is by far one of the best ways to burn off anxiety. Taking time out to exercise should be part of all of our daily or weekly routines. Most of us are time poor these days so it can be a challenge to fit exercise into our schedules. It doesn’t have to be much; walking is good and doesn’t have to be a chore. If you have a dog, there is your excuse, put on your runners and off you go, that’s what I do and my dog loves to go for a walk. Thirty minutes a few times a week will get you started and your dog will love you for it. If you are more adventurous, there are plenty of other forms of exercise you can do including bike riding, swimming, running, playing a sport, dancing, whatever you choose.
- Eat a balanced healthy diet with lots of protein, fruit and vegetables. Try to avoid skipping meals and keep healthy energy–boosting snacks on hand. Drink lots of water and limit alcohol, caffeine and sugar, as these are things that can exacerbate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Meditation has become a very popular remedy for slowing racing thoughts and calming the mind, making it easier to manage stress and anxiety. There are a wide range of meditation styles that are accessible, including meditation during yoga and mindfulness. These days we have access to many meditation and mindfulness apps, books, DVD’s and CD’s, as well as workshops and seminars. Mindfulness meditation can be as simple as downloading an app that can direct you through short mindfulness meditation at your pace in your own time. There are also more challenging apps that you can download if you are looking for something that takes longer. There are many apps available for mobile devices and some of these are free.
- Getting enough sleep each night can be a challenge when you are stressed or anxious. It is not uncommon for some people to experience disturbed sleep from time to time, but for others it may be more frequent, tossing and turning through the night and waking up exhausted. My tips are to try and keep the room dark and at a cool temperature and put on some relaxation music on a low volume, I find this helpful. Avoid phones, computers, I pads and watching television in the bedroom at least one hour before retiring for the night. It can also be helpful to avoid stimulants like alcohol and caffeine before bed. Try to average between six and eight hours of sleep each night so that you wake up refreshed and ready for a new day.
- Take time out to self-care and do things that you enjoy. This could include things like going to the beach, having a massage, learning relaxation techniques, reading a book or listening to music. Try out a new hobby, play with the dog or simply sit down and have a cup of tea. Do whatever works for you and remember to keep smiling, maintain a positive attitude, be mindful of negative thoughts and welcome humour into your day. Self-care reduces stress and anxiety and builds confidence and self-esteem.
- Connect with family and friends, we’re all human and need social connection, sharing our lives, thoughts and feelings with others should be a natural part of life. It is important and healthy to spend time with people we care about, whether it is over a meal or talking on the telephone. If this isn’t possible, try other ways of experiencing human interaction such as getting involved in your local community. This could be through volunteer work or attending local groups which creates a support network and gives you a distraction from everyday stress and anxiety.
- Take time to just breathe, inhale and exhale slowly and try to relax your muscles. Learn what triggers your anxiety and work toward reducing it. I often recommend journaling to my clients as it’s a great tool for self-reflection and self-awareness. Write down situations that cause you stress and anxiety and think about what your triggers are, look for patterns of behaviour, emotions and thoughts, break it down into small sections and look at how you can make improvements or positive change.
- Finally, talk to someone if you find things become too much to handle. Contact a friend or a family member that you can trust, we all need someone to talk to. If this isn’t helpful and you continue to experience severe anxiety despite applying some of the above measures, talk to someone who is impartial. Consider making an appointment to talk to a counsellor, who can assist you in bringing about positive change, alter unwanted behaviours, manage your anxiety and build self-confidence.
You can contact me here to make a booking if you would like some support in working through your anxiety.