If you struggle with anxiety, you know that familiar feeling when your heart suddenly starts to race, a sheen of sweat envelops you, and you feel like you just want to escape. But did you know there are ways to manage anxiety naturally?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, affecting roughly 40 million adults. And while anxiety can be debilitating, there are ways to manage anxiety naturally.
5 Ways to manage anxiety naturally
1. Long, Slow Exhalations
When we feel anxious, our breathing becomes quick and shallow. This type of breathing makes us feel even more anxious. It’s a vicious cycle.
When you feel the anxiety start to come on, start to focus on your breath and begin to slow it down. Breathe in slowly and deeply and then slowly empty your lungs. For some, it’s helpful to inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. The key is slow and steady. When you breathe this way you should be exhaling 2-3 times longer than the amount of time your are inhaling. For example, breathing in to a count of 4 and breathing out to a count of 8, 12 or even longer.
2. Caffeine and Anxiety go Hand-in-Hand
Drinking or eating anything with caffeine in it can exacerbate your anxiety. Studies have even shown that caffeine can trigger an anxiety attack, so try and avoid or significantly limit your consumption. It’s best to keep a close eye on how you feel before and after you consume caffeine to see what, if any, effects it has on your anxiety.
3. Get Your Heart Rate Going
Studies have shown that just 20 minutes of exercise can reduce symptoms of anxiety. Not only does exercising make you feel good about yourself, it actually floods your body with feel-good endorphins, which can totally turn your mood around. So get off your butt and get moving. Even better if you can do so outside with fresh air and sunshine – which also releases serotonin to help reduce anxiety.
4. Make a List
One of the worst parts of battling anxiety is feeling like you’re out of control. One simple exercise to take back control is to make a to-do list of small, easy-to-manage tasks. Crossing these tasks off your list will actually create a sense of empowerment which can help you feel in control again.
5. Ground Yourself To The Present Moment
If you get anxious when flying, you’re more than likely to really feel your anxiety when the plane hits some turbulence. So you must remind yourself that the plane is okay, and that turbulence is a normal part of flying. People who experience anxiety have to remind themselves that they’re okay when an anxiety attack comes on. Simply tell yourself that you are experiencing anxiety but that you are okay – you’re not going to die.
Life is short but dealing with anxiety on a regular basis can feel like an eternity. If you’re struggling to live life to the fullest because of your anxiety, find and awesome therapist you like and trust to help you not only find ways to manage anxiety naturally but also learn how to deal with the difficult thoughts and feelings that show up without having it derail your life!
James Killian, LPC is the Principal Therapist & Owner of Arcadian Counseling in Greater New Haven, CT where they specialize in helping over-thinkers, high achievers, and perfectionists reduce stress, increase fulfillment and enhance performance so they can move From Surviving To Thriving.