1 in 5 people in the U.S. has anxiety.
Anxiety can range from slightly bothersome to absolutely debilitating, depending on the individual. No two cases of anxiety are exactly alike because our unique life experiences and genetic makeups all play a role in our mental health.
The good news is, there are some ways to cope with anxiety that are effective for almost all cases. If you or someone you love is struggling with anxiety, there is hope.
Keep reading for 5 essential tips for how to cope with anxiety.
Work it Out
Your mind and your body are closely intertwined.
Taking care of your physical health will also help with your mental health. Exercise is an essential part of physical and mental health.
Working out can alleviate anxiety in a couple of ways. First, exercising releases endorphins, which make you feel good. Second, working out makes you feel powerful and lets you get pent up tension and negative energy out.
If you exercise, you’ll feel more tired at night and have an easier time falling asleep. Regularly working out can boost your confidence and sense of well being.
You will feel healthier and look healthier. If you feel better about your body, you’ll feel better overall.
When it comes to choosing exercises, make sure to choose only exercises you enjoy doing. You want working out to be a fun experience that you look forward to rather than something you dread.
To make sure you are getting enough exercise, aim for 30 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 times a week.
Snooze it Off
Getting enough sleep, and good quality sleep at that is essential to coping with anxiety.
Anxiety can cause you to lose sleep and losing sleep can cause you to have anxiety. It’s a vicious cycle.
Getting good sleep is just as important as getting enough sleep. It’s recommended to get at least 8 hours of sleep each night, but some people might need more or less. You know your body best.
Not being able to sleep can cause physical symptoms as well as mental ones. Adjust your schedule to make sure you get enough sleep, even if that means going to bed early.
If you are having a hard time getting to sleep because of your anxiety, get into a routine by using these tips to help you wind down:
- Don’t bring any screens to bed
- Create a schedule and stick to it
- Make your bed comfy and a place you want to be
- Set the temperature in your room to slightly cool
Mind Your Diet
After all, you are what you eat.
What you put into your body is what you will get out of it. If you find yourself overeating during times of stress and anxiety, you are not alone.
But if you eat crappy foods, you are going to feel like crap. It can be difficult to break the cycle and start eating healthy, especially if your body is not used to healthy foods.
But the results are worth the transition. Eating to fuel your body will help you exercise more efficiently and sleep better as well.
Be mindful to avoid food and beverages that trigger anxiety. You should avoid alcohol and beverages containing caffeine.
Alcohol is a downer and can make anxiety worse. Caffeine is an upper but has the same effect on anxiety.
Here are some other common things to avoid because they contain caffeine:
- Some headache/migraine medications
- Diet Pills
Practice Deep Breathing
When you experience anxiety or a panic attack, you breathe irregularly.
This is both a cause and an effect of anxiety. When your breaths are too quick or too shallow, you are not getting enough oxygen.
Learning how to manually slow your breathing and return it to a normal pattern can help tremendously when you are experiencing anxiety. Doing this tells your brain that you are going to be okay.
If you can, lie down to get the most out of deep breathing. If not, that’s okay too.
Place one of your hands on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe in slowly and deeply enough to cause your stomach to rise.
Hold the breath for a moment and then slowly breathe out. Repeat.
Allow Yourself to Worry
The key to resolving anxiety from a specific source is being able to identify that source and reframe your thoughts.
This means that you shouldn’t bury your anxiety. Instead, although it seems a little weird, schedule a time each day to process your thoughts and worry constructively.
This worry session should last around 30 minutes and should take place at the same time each day. During this designated time, think about what is causing you anxiety.
Take this time to work through your thoughts and identify exactly what it is that is making you anxious. This is not a time to get caught up in “what ifs” though.
Use this time to learn more about how past emotions might be causing your anxiety.
How to Cope with Anxiety
These are some of our top tips for how to cope with anxiety, but the fact of the matter is that we are all different.
If anxiety is disrupting your life and you can’t seem to get a handle on it, we recommend talking to your doctor about your options. Medications and therapy can help you live your best life.
Check out our blog for more health advice.