Anxiety is a complex mental health illness that affects many of us during our lifetime; however some people live with severe anxiety for long periods of time.
Anxiety can affect you at any time, often when you least expect it. It’s a feeling of worry, unease, fear and often an erratic and negative thought process.
It’s natural to feel anxious in certain situations, such as a job interview, exam or going on a first date, however some of us find it extremely hard to control our feelings in normal everyday situations, such as leaving the house or answering the phone.
Despite the anxious thoughts you may feel will never end, it is possible to manage your anxiety and feel ‘you’ again.
Here are some ways for you to overcome and manage your anxiety…
Mindfulness is a practised technique, which is ‘being’ in the present moment. Being completely in the moment is often challenging when you have anxieties, however with practise and focus, this can help you feel calm and reduce the risk of having panic attacks.
We often don’t take in our surroundings, as our minds are so busy, for example; the colour of the leaves, the smell of the rain, or the people around us. Focus on what is there in front of you and avoid thinking dwelling on negative thoughts, such as what has just happened or what could potentially happen in the future.
Stay in the moment, focus on what is there in front of you, and how you feel at that very moment, letting your anxiety drift away.
Meditation is also used for relaxation, and as a part of training yourself to be mindful.
Why not try the 10 minute guided meditation?
Take a deep breath
The best thing to do when you are feeling anxious, or having a panic attack, is to breathe deeply. Breathing deeply and slowly is a proven anxiety reducing technique. This helps to start your body’s relaxation response.
How to deep breathe
Breathe in slowly and deeply from the belly to the chest, gently hold your breath, slowly count to four and gradually exhale.
Do this for several minutes until you feel yourself relax.
Speak positively to yourself
“I never thought of myself as a bully until I heard how I speak to myself”
Anxiety often causes us to speak negatively to ourselves, telling ourselves we “can’t do that” or that we are “stupid”. We need to stop being negative and start speaking positively to ourselves, telling ourselves “I can”.
Changing your thought process isn’t something that happens overnight. You need to consciously acknowledge how you speak to yourself, reminding yourself of something positive. This can take a while to become a natural thing; however it will make a positive difference to your outlook on life in the long run.
We have to remember anxiety is just a thought, and we can manage our thoughts and take control.
Maintaining a healthy diet
Many of us don’t consider that a variety of foods and drinks we eat have an effect on our mental health. Alcohol and caffeine are commonly associated with anxiety.
Alcohol is a depressant, causing negative thoughts and feelings. If you drink a high quantity of alcohol for a long period of time, this can eventually lead to depression and other health complications.
Caffeine, whether consumed in small or large amounts, is shown to cause anxiety, restlessness, irritability, nervousness and panic attacks. Caffeine is found in a number of foods and drinks including; tea, coffee, chocolate, and fizzy drinks. If you are a big tea, coffee or fizzy drink lover, there are decaffeinated options for you to have, so that you can continue to enjoy the drinks.
Exercise is a proven stress-reliever and also good for your physical health.
During exercise your body releases endorphins, which is the ‘happy’ hormone which helps to boost your mood and feel happier.
Exercise helps with a number of things including:
-Feeling less anxious and depressed
-Improving your mood
-Improving your sleep
-Provides you with more energy
See your GP
If you have tried a number of holistic methods to reduce your anxiety and you feel you need more support, see your GP. This isn’t something you should be ashamed of or upset by. Going to see your GP is a brave step to take, so see what they can do for you.
They may offer you medication, counselling or cognitive behavioural therapy to help you manage your anxiety.
Accept you have anxiety
Often, people do not realise they have anxiety, and sometimes just put it down to being a worrier or sometimes even paranoid. Anxiety is a very real thing and something not be ashamed of. As soon as you accept you have anxiety, you can learn to manage and control your anxiety and negative thoughts.
Try out different anxiety-reducing methods and see what works best for you.
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