Anxiety can affect a person of any age group. For an adult, it could be his or her job. For a teen, it could be a love break up. For a child, it could be a test paper.
American Psychological Association (APA) defines anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes. The variation and symptoms of anxiety vary from one person to another. People suffering from anxiety usually suffer from symptoms such as a panic attack, shaking, dizzy spells, sweating or shortness of breath. They may also get recurring thoughts, worrying about something wrong or uncertain that is happening now or may happen in future.
In one of the most comprehensive studies on anxiety and depression conducted till date, it was revealed that globally, 1 in 13 people suffer from anxiety. As such, anxiety should not be a grave concern unless it starts hampering your personal and professional life. In extreme cases of anxiety disorders, a long term clinical treatment may be required. However, in most cases, you can find relief from anxiety by following these tips.
1. Take Deep Breaths
One of the easiest, quickest and most effective ways to deal with anxiety is to take deep breaths. This means you have to breathe a little deeper than your regular way of breathing. You can practice deep breathing technique through these steps:
- Inhale slowly to a count of 5 in such a way that you feel the breath in your belly and chest.
- Then, hold your breath to a count of 5.
- Exhale slowly to a count of 5.
- Repeat till you feel your body relaxing.
You can even sniff on pleasant fragrances such as fresh flowers or aromatic oils for mental clarity.
2. Do Meditation
As soon as you feel the bout of anxiety, find yourself a silent corner and start meditating. Even if you can’t find one, close your eyes and try to visualize that you are in a tranquil surrounding such as a hill, forest or a riverside. If you suffer from anxiety often, it is advisable to practice meditation for about 30 minutes daily. This will help you to focus on your thought process, shed anxiety provoking thoughts and experience positive emotions. Scientific studies show that meditation helps relieve our subjective levels of anxiety and depression, and improves attention, concentration, and overall psychological well-being.
3. Distract Yourself
Read a book, take a walk, watch a movie, listen to music, dance, go shopping, clean your home, play a sport, talk to someone or do anything meaningful to distract yourself from anxiety. You can even give yourself a pep talk explaining “This too shall pass”, Everything shall be fine”, “There’s nothing to worry about”, or “I can handle this” to soothe your anxious nerves. Such kind of distraction will shift your attention to something better and make you feel energized after a while.
4. Change Your Lifestyle
Beating anxiety also needs simple lifestyle changes such as eating healthy, exercising regularly and sleeping well.
- Reduce or even better, eliminate smoking, caffeine and alcohol from your diet.
- When feeling down, avoid go-to-comfort food such as burgers or French fries. Instead, munch on fruits, vegetable salad, sprouts or other healthy snacks.
- Include whole grain carbohydrates (oats, wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa) and foods rich in Omega 3 (salmon, walnuts, Chia seeds, tuna, flax seeds, egg yolk) and Vitamin B (dark green leafy vegetables, fortified whole grain cereals, almonds, pork, legumes), which are known to feed nutrition to mind.
- Eat at regular intervals, staying hungry for longer intervals could play tricks with your mind and body.
- Exercise for about 30-40 minutes at least 5 times a week. Scientific evidences statethat physically active people have lower rates of anxiety and depression than sedentary people. Exercise may improve mental health by helping the brain cope better with stress. In one study, researchers found that those who exercised regularly and vigorously were 25% less likely to develop depression or an anxiety disorder over the next five years.
- The anxiety-sleep pattern is a vicious circle. Lack of sleep may aggravate anxiety and in turn, anxiety may further cause insomnia. Sleep is body’s most natural anxiety coping mechanism. Hence, make sure you take adequate rest and get at least 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep daily.
5. Accept The Situation and Stay Positive
Life is a roller coaster ride, you can’t change many things about it. But, you can change the way you live and think. If you are faced with an adverse situation, accept it and try to find a solution to it rather than thinking why it happened or why it shouldn’t have happened. Be happy about what you have, stay positive and learn to live in the present.
The more you learn to acknowledge your anxiety and find ways to manage or cure it, the easier it will be for you to cope with it.