In today's fast-paced world with global turmoil being fed to us on a 24-hour basis through cable TV, children to raise, work-- and a thousand other forms of stress—anxiety is a pervasive problem in America.
Although most people don’t develop a full-blown anxiety disorder, lesser forms of stress and anxiety can and do affect your concentration at work, your ability to handle small and large frustrations, as well as disrupt your sleep patterns. All this can take a toll on the mind and body.
Below are ten tips to prevent anxiety and deal with it when it occurs:
- Recognize it. The first step in dealing with any problem is realizing there is one. Once you become aware of anxiety, you can do something about it.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine. These can aggravate anxiety and trigger panic attacks.
- Get enough sleep. Deep sleep allows your body to produce serotonin, a “feel good” chemical that keeps you more balanced.
- Get regular exercise. Getting exercise not only improves your sleep but is a great outlet for stress and anxiety.
- Take deep breaths. Simply inhaling deeply for a count of 5, holding the breath for a count of 7 and then exhaling for a count of 8 is a great way to relax your body. Doing this for 4 cycles can put you in a more relaxed state in less than 2 minutes.
- Eat regular, well-balanced meals. Your body works better in all ways with a balanced diet on a regular schedule. It’s also key in keeping anxiety at bay.
- Take a time-out. When you feel anxiety coming on, stop whatever you’re doing. Start relaxation by closing your eyes for a few minutes and doing any form of short meditation is a great way to interrupt the pattern of anxiety.
- Think funny. Humor is a great way of diffusing anxiety. Simply watching a clip of a favorite stand-up comedian on your phone, or watching a funny movie can do wonders.
- Do service. Getting your mind off your own problems— or whatever is causing your anxiety— by helping someone else, is a great way to get back in balance and feel good.
- Accept that you can’t control everything. Putting things in perspective and realizing that you have little control over people and many situations— aside from your own reaction— can be very comforting when you feel anxious or overwhelmed.
Aside from full-blown anxiety disorders which can have a medical basis and may require medication and therapy, much anxiety is cause by our perception of events. If you’ll notice, four of the above-mentioned tips have to do with how we think. Changing your thinking can have a huge effect on how you deal with anxiety or if anxiety will even be a problem for you. Although “thinking positive” seems like an outdated trite statement, it’s actually still a good tool for keeping anxiety at bay and can contribute a general feeling of well-being.