Twelve simple tips for taking action when anxiety strikes:
1. Avoid caffeine
Caffeine is well-known as an anxiety inducer. Always make a conscious decision to stop drinking caffeine or caffeinated soft drinks if you know you will be engaging in an anxiety producing situation.
2. Avoid alcohol
Feelings of anxiety can be so overwhelming that you might feel the urge to have alcohol to help you relax. Although this may work in the short term, alcohol actually changes the levels of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, making your symptoms worse. In fact, you may feel more anxious after the alcohol wears off.
3. Write it out
One of the worst aspects of anxiety is not knowing why you feel nervous in the first place. You could be lying on an idyllic beach with the ocean waves lapping in the distance and still feel worried for absolutely no reason. That’s when writing can help. It can be an effective way to explore how you feel, especially if talking out loud feels impossible.
Studies show that keeping a journal is actually a healthy way to deal with negative feelings and can help reduce stress. Another study found that anxious test participants who wrote a few notes before the test about how they were feeling and what they were thinking performed better than those who didn’t.
4. Use fragrance
Lavender is well known for its calming properties. Keep a small bottle of lavender oil on hand for the scent, for when you feel anxious thoughts brewing.
If you practice mindfulness or meditation, try smelling lavender during your practice. Over time, you’ll associate the feeling of relaxation with that scent, making it even more effective.
5. Talk to someone who gets it
If your feelings of anxiety are making it hard to function, you should speak to a health professional. But talking to friends can also help. They might have a new tack you can try, or they can point out something that might have acted as a trigger. But sometimes it’s just nice to vent to someone who knows how it feels to be in your shoes.
6. Find a mantra
Use positive affirmations every day to help manage your mood. Tell yourself, “This feeling is only temporary.” This may help you to feel calm, especially if on the verge of a panic attack. Also remind myself that you’ve survived panic attacks in the past and acknowledge that it’s all going to be okay as long as you are patient.
7. Walk it off
Sometimes, when you’re experiencing anxiety, it’s because of a build-up of adrenaline. Exercise — even if it’s just a walk — can help use up that extra adrenaline.
You often feel anxious when you haven’t moved around enough during the day, so walking is an excellent way to use up excess energy.
Walking outside in the fresh air can also improve your well-being. One study found that people who took a walking trip in a wooded area had lowered production of stress hormones than when they remained in the city.
8. Drink water
You may not realize it, but not drinking enough water can make your anxiety symptoms worse. Dehydration can actually cause heart palpitations. This can lead to feelings of panic, which may trigger an anxiety attack. Take a few moments to relax and drink a large glass of water and see if you feel any better.
9. Have some alone time
Having alone time is essential, and it can recharge your batteries and relax. If you’re feeling anxious, then find a reason to be alone. You could take a walk to the shop for some groceries, go to the gym or clean the bathroom. These are all clever little ways to find alone time without seeming rude.
10. Turn off your phone
Being constantly plugged in is a modern-day curse that we all need to learn to live with. Don’t be afraid to turn off your phone once in a while. Use it as a chance to practice mindfulness, go for a bath, or write down why you’re feeling anxious.
11. Have a bath
Do you find that your anxious thoughts are taking a toll on you both physically and mentally? This is common, and it can be a vicious cycle, making it hard to relax if your body is tense. A hot bath with Epsom salt is great for relaxing your muscles, which can also help relax your mind.
12. Eat something
You can get so wrapped up in my day at work that you forget to eat anything until two in the afternoon. It’s an easy mistake to make, and you often only remember to eat because I start to experience feelings of fear or worry.
Low blood sugar can make you feel nervous, irritable and anxious. Try eating something easy to digest like a banana. Then follow it up with a well-balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates and vegetables.
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