Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. It can be caused by many different things, including stress, genetics, and chemical imbalances in the brain. Anxiety can lead to a number of physical and emotional symptoms, including chest pain, rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, and nausea. Everyone worries about things now and again, but to suffer from anxiety means that worrying has a debilitating impact on your daily life. If you are struggling with anxiety, there are many things that you can do to reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life. In this blog post, we will discuss five ways to handle anxiety and reduce stress.
Practice Breathing and Mindfulness Techniques
Improper breathing can upset the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange, which can contribute to both anxiety and panic attacks. The next time you begin to feel anxious, there are a variety of breathing techniques to help calm you down. A few of these techniques are:
Alternate Nostril Breathing
This type of breathing exercise requires you to close your eyes or soften your gaze and then start to inhale and exhale. Close off your right nostril with your thumb, breathe in, close your left nostril, and then exhale. It is best to repeat this practice for ten full breaths before releasing your nostrils and breathing regularly.
This breathing practice has been shown to reduce stress when practiced for twenty minutes daily. Belly breathing requires you to place one hand on your chest, and the other on your stomach. Then breathe in slowly through your nose to feel your stomach expand, and exhale through your mouth. Your chest should stay still the entire time.
Box breathing is simple and only requires you to breathe in for four seconds, hold the air in your lungs for four seconds, exhale slowly for four seconds, and then wait to inhale again for another four seconds. This type of breathing can calm you down and return your breathing to a normal pace.
Exercise More Frequently
Working out may feel like the last thing you want to do when struggling with your mental health, but exercise will release endorphins and reduce stress, anxiety, and tension. The word “exercise” may have you thinking about weight rooms or running on a treadmill, but physical activity can be a variety of ways that get your body moving. Some of these activities could be yoga, gardening, participating in sports, washing your car, or even a walk around the block.
Moving your body for 30 minutes 3-5 days a week can greatly reduce your anxiety and depression levels. However, moving for 10-15 minutes a day can also improve your mental wellness and help you start to feel better.
Eat Healthy, More Balanced Meals
The food we eat has a significant impact on our daily lives. Food fuels our bodies and our minds, and foods rich in certain nutrients can improve the way our mind functions. For example, foods rich in magnesium tend to help lower stress levels. These foods include leafy greens (such as spinach and Swiss chard), nuts, seeds, wholegrains, and legumes. Foods rich in zinc have also been tied to lower anxiety levels. These foods include oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks. Eating a balanced diet can help improve mental health and increase energy levels.
Write in a Diary
Journaling is a great way to release the built-up pressure from your day. Writing can help you discuss worries and fears, as well as check whether those fears are rational or not. When left unchecked, anxiety can cause overthinking and rumination. Sometimes getting thoughts down on paper just makes everything seem less overwhelming. You can get the most out of your journaling experience by writing exactly how you feel and what you are worried about, and then rereading what you have written. For each concern you have, try to write two ways to think about the situation differently. You can also experiment with freewriting, which means writing for a set period of time without filtering your thoughts or stopping.
Lean on Your Support System
Sometimes we just need to be around the people who love and support us. Having a support system can have a positive effect on your overall health. A support system can include family, friends, teachers, faith leaders, neighbors, peers, or therapists and counselors. Having a few people you trust and can turn to can help you manage everyday challenges, make difficult decisions, or even help center you during a crisis situation.
Anxiety can feel like a very debilitating condition, but there are many things that you can do to reduce your stress levels and improve your quality of life. When lifestyle changes do not help, then there is no shame in seeking treatment for mental health problems; in fact, it shows that you are strong enough to admit that you need help. You are not alone in this fight; millions of people struggle with anxiety on a daily basis. With the right tools and support, you can overcome your anxiety and regain control of your life.