When you suffer from anxiety, you feel as if you’re walking on eggshells each day. You feel anxious about everything, which makes you sad and depressed. Normal things that once brought you joy now frighten you, and you live life in a constant state of fear. While you should seek help for your anxiety, there are a few strategies you can employ to best handle anxious thoughts and tendencies in your everyday life. Here are some tips and tricks for handling your anxiety:
It’s been shown that caffeine and alcohol can actually aggravate your anxiety, so try avoiding them for a time. The caffeine from coffee, soda, pop and energy drinks can give you the jitters and make your thoughts race even faster, magnifying your feelings of anxiety. And the caffeine/sugar crash from these drinks can completely derail your day.
While alcohol may make you feel calmer and more in control, that temporary relief comes at a terrible price—your anxiety and nervousness will return with a vengeance, even worse than before. The quick anxiety fix from alcohol is never worth it.
Caffeine and alcohol can also trigger full-blown panic attacks, in addition to compounding feelings of depression. Switch to water instead to reduce your anxiety and benefit your body at the same time!
Well-balanced meals throughout the day keep your body nourished and give you the energy you need to make the most of your the day.
A high-fiber, high-protein diet that’s low in sugar is a great general rule to help you plan your meals. Try to steer clear of processed foods—packaged foods that are ready to eat right out of the box are full of added salt, sugar, preservatives and other hard-to-pronounce garbage that keep you from feeling your best.
Don’t forget the snacks! Going hours without eating can also fuel your anxiety. Keep a few energy-boosting snacks with you at all times. Stick with more natural foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts and cheeses to keep your mood and energy levels up. A proper diet puts helps put you in the best position to mitigate and control your anxiety.
As hard as it may be, try and maintain a positive attitude throughout the day. By doing so, you’ll be able to minimize negative thoughts that might trigger your anxiousness.
Try to view setbacks as opportunities and failures as learning experiences. Whenever you feel your mood start to sour, take a deep breath and remember that negative reactions don’t serve you—they only take away from you. They’re not worth the energy required to feel them. Remind yourself that the situation you’re in is going to work out fine no matter how you react to it—so you may as well react with a smile and move on with your day.
By looking at various parts of your day through a more positive lens, you’ll be surprised to find that your negative thoughts are quieter, less frequent and easier to dismiss. With some practice, your moods will gradually improve and your anxiety will have less of a hold over you.
You’re only human, and that means you can’t control everything in life. Accepting this fact will help your anxious tendencies. By letting go of your control, you’ll be able to better accept that life isn’t perfect and you shouldn’t have to be either.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is to simply let things go, which is no small feat for people with anxiety. But the freedom that results is incredible—it literally feels like you’ve taken a weight off your shoulders. Similar to negative reactions, remember that worry doesn’t serve you, and setting that worry aside isn’t a bad thing. You’ve heard the saying, “As long as I worry about it, it won’t happen.” While the sentiment is an accurate description of how anxious people feel, never forget that it’s an inherently unhealthyapproach to everyday life.
Start with the smallest things and work your way up over time. Let’s say you have to be somewhere at 5 p.m. and you can’t be late, so what do you do? You build your entire day around that worry, around that moment. Instead, let it go. Your life will be full of moments from now until 5 p.m. Be present for them. Enjoy them.
Your most important moment is thismoment. Always, this moment.
Everyone has different triggers when it comes to their anxiety, and knowing what yours are will help you avoid certain situations or experiences. Do you find crowds of people difficult? Board meetings and presentations? Traveling and unfamiliar surroundings? Some things can’t be avoided, be they for your job or some other obligation, but recognizing what your triggers are will help you practice and prepare for how to handle them.
Not sure what your triggers are? That’s okay. Have a journal handy throughout the day and write down when you’re feeling anxious and why. Be sure to add details as well, even if you think they’re unimportant. You can also employ an intensity meter to keep track of how bad your anxiety feels at the time. Use a simple 1-10 scale or a low/medium/high rating. Over time, you’ll be able to find patterns that will help you identify exactly what causes your anxiety. A proper trigger list with dates and times is also an invaluable tool for your doctor, helping them decide what medications and therapies may be best for you.
One of the most effective things you can do to best handle anxiety right now is to reach out for help.
Schedule an appointment with your doctor, search for local discussion groups in your area, or even just talk about it with a trusted friend or mentor. And remember, no matter who you are, there’s no shame in anxiety or any other mental health issue. The only shame is not seeking help for it, and seeking help is a sign of courage, not weakness. ANYONE who tells you otherwise is incorrect.
For more information on getting the help you need for anxiety and other mental health issues, check this wonderful NAMI.org list of resources.
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