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12 Ways to Help Decrease Anxiety

by Bryce Thacker PMHNP, DNP

Anxiety is a normal reaction to stressful situations and can be helpful sometimes. It can alert us to danger and help us prepare and pay attention. Anxiety disorders are different from normal feelings of anxiousness or nervousness and often include excessive fear or anxiety.

It can affect people in many different ways. Many times people feel physical effects like a racing heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath, and tensing of muscles. Therapists and psychiatry providers often recommend different techniques that people can use to help decrease the physical effects. There are lots of options that you can try on your own. If these techniques aren’t helping and you’re ready to talk to a mental health provider, call our office or schedule an appointment online. When anxiety is affecting your day to day life and disrupting your ability to be yourself, please seek help.

Here are some ways that you can help lessen the effects of anxiety

  1. Learn more about your anxiety- such as triggers, coping skills, stressors etc. By understanding the cause, you may be able to handle the symptoms better or avoid triggers.
  2. Breathing exercises- It may sound basic, but this is a a quick way to tell your nervous system to reset. By drawing attention to your breathing, your mind refocuses and our heart rate slows- which causes a calm feeling. A popular technique is the 4-7-8 method.
  • Breathe in for 4 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds.
  • Exhale slowly for 8 seconds.
  • Repeat until you feel calmer.
  1. Exercise daily. Movement is a positive way to use the anxious energy for good.
  2. Take care of your physical health- it is important to ensure you’re getting enough sleep. When experiencing increased stress, our bodies need more sleep. Eating a well-balanced diet is also important to provide our mind and body with necessary nutrients.
  3. Limit Caffeine- Though we all love our iced coffee, energy drinks etc, excess caffeine can cause increased anxiety.
  4. Drink chamomile tea- This can be a healthy alternative to coffee. An added benefit is that some research suggests that chamomile may reduce anxiety symptoms.
  5. Distract yourself- while this is a temporary solution, it may be just enough to let the moment pass.
  6. Laugh- watch something funny online, turn on your favorite show or call a friend for a joke. When you laugh, your abdominal muscles contract and expand which reduces the physical effects and stress.
  7. Self-care – Consider doing an activity that you find relaxing such as taking a long bath, reading, painting, playing games.
  8. Socialize- Relationships are important for our mental health. Research shows that isolation can be detrimental for anxiety or depression.
  9. Get moving – when that anxious feeling hits you in the moment, try stretching or tensing your muscles and releasing them. The muscle activation helps to release the tension.
  10. Magnesium – make sure you’re getting enough magnesium in your diet. These important mineral is often deficient in many people. If you’re not eating enough greens, nuts, seeds, avocados, dark chocolate, bananas, non-fat yogurt, or other foods high in magnesium consider taking a supplement.

Next time you start to feel those telltale physical signs like a racing heart beat, muscle tension, shallow breathing, or racing thoughts, try these tips. If your symptoms are too strong to be managed with these tips, make an appointment with a mental health provider such as the team at Axis Integrated Mental Health and let us help you to start living a better life.

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