This blog post was written by Pooja Shah, PsyD. [jamiesocial]
To begin to manage anxiety it is important to first take time to understand what anxiety is. Most forms of anxiety center around two major difficulties: constant worry and difficulty letting go of the need to control. It is beneficial to take time to understand why you struggle with worrying and what makes you feel as though you need to control your surroundings. There are several simple things we can do to help manage and reduce our levels of anxiety.
Here are 4 things you can do to start reducing difficulties around worry and control.
1. Sleep hygiene/reduce caffeine intake
Our bodies react to subtle changes. For example, if you normally sleep 7 hours and today you slept 6 or 9 hours your body will react to that change. To reduce and manage anxiety you want to get in the habit of sleeping at the same time and waking up at the same time everyday. This includes reducing caffeine. Caffeine naturally alerts the body, when already anxious the addition of caffeine can intensify the experience of anxiety.
2. Positive self affirmations
When we worry we tend to criticize and put ourselves down. This will lead to an increase in low self esteem and will increase the levels of stress or anxiety experienced. Begin the day with 2-3 positive affirmations. Place a reminder on your phone for every hour to remind yourself to re-read those affirmations. In doing this you will begin to reground yourself and take the much-needed break as well as change any negative thoughts/criticism you may have been doing.
3. Eat healthy/physical exercise
Like sleep, it is important we eat healthy and exercise regularly. Our bodies have natural chemicals that are impacted by what we eat and if we exercise. Eating unhealthy foods can often lead to depressive symptoms such as lethargy, sad mood, and decrease interest in activities. Healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, can increase your energy and even make you feel better physically. Exercise has the potential to jumpstart the body’s natural endorphins, which can then reduce the experience of anxiety.
4. Thought awareness
Although the anxiety feels physical, it is usually a manifestation of your thoughts and beliefs. Take time to identify these thoughts and beliefs. For example the thought may be “No one liked my project idea” within this thought there are two main elements, what is and what is not in your control. We often feel or think as though we do not have a say or control in the situation, when really the struggle is we do not know how to identify it. In the example, what is in your control is whether or not you liked your project or idea. What is not in your control is what others thought of it. Remember, other people are allowed their opinions and ideas, as are you. Accepting and believing in yourself will greatly help manage your anxiety.