Tips for Coping with Anxiety
It seems as though everyone is under stress these days. From heavy workloads to family issues, no one is exempt from the claws of anxiety.
by Erika Jeffrey / 2021-07-26
Trying to tame your anxiety feels like a lost cause if you feel like you're drowning in it. First off, it’s important to know that you are not alone in this struggle. Every person you encounter is dealing with their own battles. Here are three important lessons to pull you up when anxiety weighs you down.
Please note: If your anxiety significantly interferes with your daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder. Talk with your doctor about your options or to discuss a possible treatment plan.
1. Focus on the NOW
The main root of anxiety lies in focusing too much attention on the future. Oftentimes, we find ourselves ruminating on what’s to come, burning precious energy worrying about something that hasn’t even happened yet.
It all boils down to awareness. Square one of overcoming stress is to realize your thoughts are just that: thoughts. Your thoughts do not control you - in fact, you can control them. This line of logic is thoroughly examined in Calm the F*ck Down, a book by Sarah Knight. It offers practical ways to tackle overwhelming situations. It’s worth a look if you struggle with getting stuck in those dreadful worry loops.
This is why meditating is so powerful. Try and devote a mere 5 minutes a day to sitting without distraction. Focus on your breathing, and notice the thoughts drift by.
The practice builds neuroplasticity in your brain. It rewires your brain to notice thoughts instead of letting them control you. This improves your mental capacity for handling stressful situations.
Next time you experience a stressful trigger, pause for a moment. Try to take a deep breath before reacting to your thoughts. Re-focus your attention on the NOW. The present moment.
Easier said than done, but not impossible! Here’s a quick, mental trick to try out next time your mind is racing a million miles a minute:
The 3-3-3 rule
Look around you and name 3 things you see. Curtain. Window. Chair.
Then, listen. Name 3 things you hear. AC. Fan. Computer.
Finally, body-check. Move 3 parts of your body. It can be a finger, blinking your eyes, tugging on your ear, rotating your ankles - you get the picture.
This mental hack has the power to snap you back into the now. It helps you connect with what is going on around you at this very moment.
Mindfulness is a crucial piece of the anxiety-free puzzle. To take a deep dive into the power that it has to offer, Henna Inam’s Mindfulness Practices course will set you on the right path. Sometimes, a little extra guidance is all you need to get a handle on life’s challenges.
2. Take care of your body
Getting enough sleep and having a well-balanced diet is vital to keeping stress at bay.
- Dream big
We all know how impatient we can be with ourselves and others when we don’t get enough sleep. If you don’t get enough sleep, irritability rears its ugly head. We perceive small issues as worse than they are, which starts a stress chain reaction.
Shoot for 7-8 hours a night so you can wake up feeling refreshed in the morning. Turn off electronics an hour before bed, keep the room cool, and make sure it’s as dark as possible. Sweet dreams!
- Fuel your body properly
We’ve all heard the saying, “you are what you eat.” It’s not too far-fetched.
The more water and clean food you consume, the healthier your immunity and overall health will be. You’ll have more energy to do the things you like, more energy to hang out with your friends, family, or pets, and a better appreciation for life in general.
Conversely, the more sodas (sugar) and processed foods you load up with, the more health issues you’ll inevitably face. This results in more stress.
Poor eating habits often lead to a vicious cycle that’s hard to break. Once you get a handle of it, however, you’ll reap the benefits of a less stressful life. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in moderation from time to time - you can still enjoy comfort foods while fuelling your body with better choices. When your body is running on a balanced diet, your sleep will improve, and your anxiety levels will drop.
3. Self-care for the win
If you ever experience a particularly bad day or suffer from a panic attack, take a moment to breathe. A few deep breaths can do wonders to calm the mind and bring your body back to a calm state.
The simple act of breathing reduces stress and floods your body with oxygen. While you’re at it, drink plenty of water to help your body run at its optimal capacity.
Once you’ve taken care of those basic bodily needs, treat yo’ self! Self-care is all the rage lately, and for good reason. Reward yourself with some self-care to melt the stress away.
- Take a bath
If your stress levels are manifesting themselves in physical symptoms - common ones to look out for include a headache or migraine, an increased heart rate, or difficulty getting a good night's sleep - try running yourself a nice, hot bath in the evening to soothe your soul. Spice it up with Epsom salt, candles, and soft music.
- Skip the caffeine
If you’re feeling anxious, caffeine is the last thing you need. This doesn’t mean ditching your daily cups of coffee altogether, but simply being more conscious in your consumption of it. Instead of pouring your third cup, why not switch to a herbal tea, or having a decaf?
- Get a massage
Contact can be a major relief from chronic pain or anxiety. Get those knots out and relax.
- Exercise and meditate
Feeling great? Meditate! Feeling down? Move around! It’s important to workout your mind and body to feel your best.
- Watch a funny movie
One of the best cures to anxiety is laughing. Put on your favorite flick and find comfort in the familiar, or set some time aside to fall down a comedy hole of videos.
- Cook a tasty meal
Cooking is an incredibly therapeutic activity. It can also fuel your body with nutrients and love. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out our cooking hacks on Uptime.
- Meet with friends
Sometimes we need human connection to pull us out of funks. Seek friends that inspire you and lift you up. A quick bite or walk in the park can lift your spirits and squash anxiety.