Like many adults, I face bouts of anxiety from time to time. Anxiety is more common than most of us know as 18% of adults in the U.S. deal with anxiety disorders. In other words, if you deal with symptoms of anxiety, it is nothing to feel ashamed of – you’re far from alone.
I have my favorite ways to prevent anxiety, or deal with it in the best way possible when it hits me. Keep in mind, we’re all unique and will have different methods that best suit ourselves. Also, if you believe you are dealing with a type of anxiety that debilitates you from living a normal, healthy life, the best thing to do is seek professional help.
What helps me deal with anxiety?
Get Enough Sleep
We’re in an epidemic of sleep deprivation. Way too many adults do not get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep due to work and household responsibilities, or a simple lack of time management. When we forgo sleep, we become tired, cranky, and unable to perform at our best. Even worse, a lack of sleep puts us at risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
When I don’t get enough sleep, I’m in a bad mood and often on edge, thus resulting in an increase of anxious thoughts and feelings. So I make sure to almost always be in bed a full eight hours before I have to wake up. This means I often have to manage time and plan ahead more than I would otherwise, but it’s always worth it.
Speaking of time management, nothing gets me quite anxious like feeling like I can’t control my tasks and schedule. What helps more than anything is keeping notebooks and making lists.
Do I have a number of assignments due at work tomorrow? I write each one down. An endless amount of chores to get done before the holidays? Each one is typed out on my phone. You may be surprised to realize that your responsibilities are less anxiety-inducing when they are spelled out in front of your face.
Call a Friend
If I’m feeling the weight of a stressful day and worry that I may go into a dark mood, calling a friend or family member can quickly put me at ease. This can mean I call to vent or ask for guidance, or simply to catch up and have a nice chat.
A phone call is much more personal than texting, and hearing the voice of someone who loves you will almost always put you in a better mood and remind you of the joy in your life.
I know some might think: there’s nothing worse than those people who are always trying to convince you that going to the gym solves all problems! It’s true that a good gym session won’t solve all of your problems, but the health benefits of exercise are indisputable – and one of those benefits are improved mental health.
When I’m feeling anxious, the worst thing I can do for myself is to continue to stay still, consumed by my thoughts. I’ve learned to get myself out of a chair, and go for a run, lift weights, or even do a quick yoga session at home. The results are always good.
As someone who enjoys going out for drinks with friends, this is one step that I keep in mind often. I’ve found that if I’m ever in a tense or anxious mood, adding alcohol to the mix is almost always a guarantee way to make me feel worse. So while it may not hurt to relax with one beer after a bad day, avoiding alcohol consumption during tough times is really for the best.
Lots of people even choose to forgo caffeine for this reason, as well. Pay attention to how your body reacts to what you put in it.
My body has a tendency to tense up throughout the day. I’ll bring my shoulders to my ears, clench my jaw, and take quick, shallow breaths. This even happens when I don’t necessarily feel stressed at all! These habits will not only make a person feel worse, they’re just really bad for our bodies overtime.
I keep an hourly reminder to relax my body. This lets me think about where my shoulders are placed, if my jaw is relaxed, and if I’m allowing myself to take deep, soothing breaths. I’m hoping for these reminders to become simple habits overtime, leading to a calmer, happier life.