Top tips to help manage anxiety
How many times have you heard the expression:
‘There is not enough time in the day’?
In recent years, it seems that time has sped up, with the help of smart phones and tablets; people are more on the go than they ever have been. We are living longer, working harder and retiring older – it is no wonder that anxiety is the most common form of mental distress in the UK today (Office of National Statistics 2000).
Managing anxiety is simply the act of preventing anxiety from overwhelming you. Below are some tips to help you manage your anxiety, you may find one is more effective for you than another – we are all different. I am confident you will find something that works for you:
1. Breathing Exercises
– There are a variety of different breathing exercises that can help calm you down. I have given an example of a deep breathing exercise:
The key to this is to breathe deeply from the abdomen. When you take deep breaths from the abdomen, rather than shallow breaths from your upper chest, you inhale more oxygen. The more oxygen, the less tense, short of breath, and anxious you feel.
To begin with it is easier to place one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach – this way you will be able to tell if you are breathing from the diaphragm rather than your chest.
- Take a deep breath in through your nose so that your stomach rises (you will be able to feel this with your hand) and count from 1 -5. Your hand on your chest should not move much.
- Breathe slowly out through your mouth counting from 1-5.
Do not worry if you cannot reach 5 at first, just count to where you feel comfortable.
Continue until you feel calm.
2. Increase exercise
– Regular exercise will help to reduce anxiety by providing an outlet to release stress that has built up in your body.
Swimming can be very beneficial as effectively you are incorporating breathing exercises as well. Alternatively you may prefer walking, fresh air is always useful to gain new perspectives or you may want more vigorous exercise such as classes, running, boxing etc. You will find something that works for you.
3. Limit alcohol and caffeine
– Caffeine is a stimulant and one of its side effects is to keep us alert and awake. It also produces the same physiological arousal response that is triggered when subjected to stress. Too much coffee will keep us tense, aroused and leave us more vulnerable to anxiety.
4. Relaxation Techniques
– Meditation helps promote deep relaxation. The more you practice, the easier it is. To get started, I would recommend an app called Headspace, which eases you in slowly and effectively.
– Visualisation – Think of a place that you feel is calming or a particular scene eg. Rainforest with a waterfall. Visualise this place/scene whenever you feel stressed or anxious. Your special place will become easier to visualize the more you practice –the more detail you put into the visualization the believable it will become.
5. Keeping a Journal
– Writing thoughts down in a journal may seem like something you only did as a child, but it’s actually a powerful coping tool. It benefits anxiety in two ways. First, it gives you an opportunity to simply express your thoughts. Secondly, it also puts your thoughts in a permanent place, and that tells your brain that it does not have to focus on remembering them as much as it did previously. This also may help you see if there is a pattern to your anxiety and helps to identify anxiety triggers.
6. Creating a worry period
– If your main distress is constant worrying and anxious thoughts, creating a worry period can be effective and enable you to make the most out of your days. Most of the time telling yourself to stop worrying does not work. Rather than trying to stop or get rid of an anxious thought, give yourself permission to have it, but put off thinking any more about it until later. Set a time and place everyday for your worry period. During this period you are allowed to worry about anything, however the rest of the day is worry-free – essentially you are postponing your worrying. Try to limit your worry period to 15 minutes or less a day.
– Postponing worrying is effective because it breaks the habit of dwelling on worries in the present moment. Yet there’s no struggle to suppress the thought or judge it. You simply save it for later.
– Yoga provides an opportunity to help you relax through teaching breathing techniques as well as getting used to a slower (without it being less challenging) pace.
8. Talk to someone
– Tell friends and family you are feeling overwhelmed, and let them know how they can help you. You can also talk to a coach, a therapist or invest in complementary therapies to help. Ultimately you need to find support that works for you.
Homeopathic remedies can be very useful in helping with the acute stages of anxiety such as panic attacks as well as working with long-term anxiety.
I would love to hear any tips that have been successful for you!
If you would like to explore further how I can help, please contact me.