Experiencing nervousness is a common part of life. While nervous feelings about an upcoming presentation or event are normal, it’s important to address these feelings when they become persistent and start to interfere with your daily routine. Persistent nervousness could become anxiety, which can cloud your judgment, influence your decisions, and hinder your overall well-being. By learning the tools to gain control over your anxiety, you can significantly improve your quality of life and confidence going into many everyday experiences.
This article is designed to provide you with practical and actionable steps to help manage anxiety. We will explore 10 proven strategies that encompass both physical and mental health aspects. These tips aim to empower you, equipping you with the tools you need to navigate through your anxiety.
Anxiety is a normal response to stress or danger, often referred to as the ‘fight or flight’ response. However, when these feelings are persistent or intense, they may signify an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, and more.
Anxiety disorders can stem from a combination of factors, including genetics, personality, life events, and brain chemistry. It’s important to remember that experiencing anxiety does not indicate weakness or a character flaw. It’s a real and often treatable condition. If you think you might have an anxiety disorder, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. They can provide a thorough evaluation and guide you toward appropriate treatment options.
10 Tips to Gain Control Over Anxiety
The tips in the following sections are not a replacement for professional treatment, but they can serve as helpful tools in your overall anxiety management strategy.
1. Practicing Mindfulness and Meditation
Mindfulness is a mental state where you focus your awareness on the present moment. By doing so, you can acknowledge and accept your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgment. Research shows that mindfulness can help reduce anxiety symptoms and improve emotional well-being.
Meditation is one way to practice mindfulness. Even a few minutes each day can make a difference. Begin by finding a quiet space, focusing on your breath, and gently bringing your mind back whenever it wanders.
2. Regular Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety. Exercise releases endorphins, the body’s natural mood boosters, and can also serve as a healthy distraction from worrying thoughts. Try to incorporate some form of physical activity into your daily routine, whether it’s a brisk walk, a yoga session, or a bike ride.
3. Healthy Eating Habits
What you eat can also impact your anxiety levels. Eating a balanced diet can stabilize your energy levels and mood throughout the day. Try to incorporate foods rich in magnesium (like leafy greens and legumes), zinc (such as oysters and cashews), and omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon and chia seeds), which have been linked to reduced anxiety.
4. Adequate Sleep
Sleep and anxiety have a bidirectional relationship. This means that poor sleep can increase anxiety levels, and high anxiety can make it hard to sleep. To improve your sleep hygiene, maintain a consistent sleep schedule, create a calming bedtime routine, and make your sleep environment comfortable and free of distractions.
5. Reducing Caffeine and Alcohol
Caffeine and alcohol can both exacerbate anxiety symptoms. Caffeine can interfere with sleep and increase feelings of jitteriness, while alcohol can affect the balance of chemicals in your brain and disrupt your sleep pattern. Try to limit your consumption of these substances or find healthier alternatives.
6. Deep Breathing and Relaxation Techniques
Deep breathing and relaxation techniques can activate your body’s natural relaxation response, leading to reduced tension and feelings of anxiety.
One simple method is box breathing: breathe in slowly for a count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 4, exhale slowly for a count of 4, and wait for a count of 4 before inhaling again. Repeat this pattern until you start feeling calmer.
7. Positive Affirmations and Self-Talk
The language we use with ourselves can significantly impact how we feel and respond to situations. Positive affirmations and self-talk can help shift your mindset, reducing anxiety and increasing feelings of self-worth. Practice repeating positive affirmations like, “I am capable,” “I can handle this,” or “I am stronger than my anxiety,” especially in moments of heightened stress.
8. Setting Realistic Goals and Priorities
Having a lot on your plate can provoke anxiety. It’s important to set realistic goals and prioritize tasks to avoid overwhelming yourself. Practice breaking down larger tasks into smaller, manageable parts and schedule your time accordingly. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they might seem.
9. Connecting with Others
Building strong social connections can be a powerful antidote to anxiety. Surround yourself with supportive and understanding people who can offer help when needed. Don’t hesitate to tell your feelings with trusted friends or family. Sometimes, just verbalizing what you’re going through can provide significant relief.
10. Professional Help
Despite your best efforts, if anxiety continues to interfere with your life, it’s important to seek professional help. Therapists and psychologists can offer strategies tailored specifically to your situation. If necessary, psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness, but a step towards reclaiming control over your life.
Benefits of Online Therapy in Managing Anxiety
Online therapy has emerged as a convenient, and highly effective means of managing anxiety. In the context of anxiety disorders, online therapy can provide several unique benefits. For one, online therapy sessions can be attended from the comfort of your own home or any location that suits you. This can be especially useful for individuals who may feel anxious about going to a therapist’s office or who live in remote areas with limited sources to mental health services.
Online platforms typically offer flexible scheduling options, making it easier to fit therapy into your busy schedule. Some platforms also offer text, email, or instant messaging therapy, which can be less intimidating and more comfortable for some people. For those who feel a stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment, online therapy can provide a level of unknown-ness that helps mitigate such concerns.
Efficacy Of Online Therapy In Managing Anxiety
The effectiveness of online therapy in managing anxiety has been backed by numerous studies, finding online cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to be just as effective as face-to-face therapy for major psychiatric disorders, including anxiety. Other research has found that the effects of online therapy can be sustained in the long term.
Online therapy allows for the use of various therapeutic techniques, including CBT, mindfulness-based therapy, and other evidence-based approaches that have been proven effective for anxiety management. Online CBT, in particular, has been widely studied and consistently found to be effective. It involves teaching individuals to identify negative thought patterns and develop healthier, more positive ways of thinking.
In addition to this, the interactive nature of online therapy, including multimedia presentations, video sessions, and interactive assignments, can enhance understanding and engagement with therapeutic content.
In addition to healthy living and mindfulness techniques, working with a professional can be a key step in reducing anxiety in the long term. Online therapy provides many benefits including increased affordability, consistent scheduling during travel, and flexibility. To work with an online therapist, sign up with BetterHelp to be matched with a professional in as little as 48 hours.
Below are some commonly asked questions on this topic:
How can I fight my anxiety naturally?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, there are several techniques that you can use to help relieve anxiety. The first is deep breathing exercises. Taking a deep breath is a great way for reducing stress in general, and it’s a strategy that you can use for in-the-moment anxiety management, and even a panic attack management. Deep breaths can help manage anxiety symptoms, such as increased heart rate, quickened respiration, increased sweating, and anxious thoughts. Panic attacks and heart palpitations are also severe symptoms of anxiety. So, when you start feeling anxious, you can try deep breathing exercises to stop anxiety in its tracks.
Reducing stress in your life and leading a healthy lifestyle is another way to help ease anxiety and promote better mental health overall, according to research from Harvard Medical School. While you can’t just snap your fingers and make the anxiety go away, there are a few lifestyle changes that can help you stop feeling anxious and reduce the impact of generalized anxiety disorder and other mental health issues.
First of all, you need to get enough sleep. Research shows that adults need 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Getting a good night’s sleep can reduce the amount of stress hormones your body produces. Getting enough sleep can help you focus better, and it makes you better prepared to manage feelings of worry and reduce anxiety. You’ll also find that getting enough sleep can help you focus better and feel more energy throughout the day.
Next, you should get consistent exercise. Even just walking or strolling near your home or doing some stretching exercises or yoga at home is enough for calming the symptoms of anxiety disorders or a panic disorder. Intentional physical activity gives a stronger sense of control, which can reduce anxiety symptoms. Consistent exercise can reduce other anxiety symptoms such as muscle tension and promote muscle relaxation, too. When your body is relaxed, it’s easier to manage your anxiety and prevent panic attacks. So, exercise can ease stress and anxiety and also support better mental health overall.
Eating a healthy diet rich in macronutrients and complex carbohydrates is another medically reviewed way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety in your life. According to research done by Harvard Medical School, avoiding processed foods and simple sugars helped to ease both anxiety and depression symptoms over time. Plus, a balanced diet (including egg yolks) was shown to help relieve anxiety symptoms and reduce the overall likelihood of a panic attack. Of course, before you change your diet drastically, you should get medical advice from your doctor.
Additionally, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol can help reduce anxiety. Caffeine and alcohol impact both the body and the mind, and they can increase the effect of other symptoms of anxiety and depression. Even though you may drink these beverages to relax, consistent consumption can actually add to the stress in your life, not to mention increasing the risk of other health conditions. While completely giving up caffeine and alcohol might not work for you, try to drink less each day. In its place, have a cup of green tea or a glass of water to stay hydrated and promote your general mental health.
Meditation is another great way to address anxious thoughts. Meditation is the process of calming your mind and body so that you can rest and relax on a deeper level. It can help eradicate certain symptoms of anxiety, including racing thoughts and panic attacks. You can also incorporate essential oils you’re your meditation sessions to increase the anti anxiety effect. For extra support with meditation, you can get help from a professional, or even start out with videos and resources available for free online. Remember, meditation doesn’t have to be a scary or difficult thing: it’s just about getting into a restful headspace so that you can address any anxiety and depression from a place of non-judgement.
Finally, seeking support from a mental health professional (or a support group) is a proven and effective way to treat anxiety disorders. Most therapists will use a talk therapy approach to help you identify the triggers for your anxiety, and to really recognize what causes the anxiety disorder or panic disorder. For example, if you’re facing social anxiety, then the mental health professional can offer targeted therapy and medical advice for your specific triggers. Then, the therapy session will focus on different ways to cope with anxiety. They will help you establish and maintain the coping skills that you need for a life without anxiety and better mental health overall.
How can I instantly control anxiety?
There are several strategies for lowering anxiety quickly and almost instantly. One way to relieve anxiety disorders fast is deep breathing. Deep and intentional breathing as soon as you start feeling anxious can help calm anxiety quickly. This is because it suppresses many the physical symptoms of anxiety. In turn, once your body is relaxed, your brain starts to ease up on the excessive worry, as well.
When you start to feel anxious, take a deep breath through your nose. Make sure that you’re breathing all the way down towards your stomach. Then, hold your full breath for several seconds. Finally, breathe out slowly through your mouth. As you exhale, imagine that you are pushing out all the tension in your body; exhale whatever is making you feel anxious. Before you inhale again, wait with your lungs empty for a few seconds. Then, repeat the exercise until your breathing is steady, your heart rate is down to normal, and you feel control over your body, mind, and anxiety.
Getting some exercise is another great way to get rid of anxious thoughts quickly. When you feel that worry rising up inside of you, take a few minutes to walk around and move your body. The main goal is to get your body moving! You can walk around the neighborhood, do some stretching at home, or if you’re feeling up for it, hit the gym with some friends. Intentional physical activity is a great way to regain some control of your thoughts and actions, and it allows you to take your mind away from your worry for a while. Plus, consistent exercises is great for both your long term mental health and physical well-being.
Once your body and mind are a bit calmer, you can start to express how and why you felt such excessive worry. You can write your feelings and what triggers your panic disorder; this will give some perspective on patterns in your anxiety and triggers over time. This information can help you better cope with anxiety disorders, and this can lead to an overall reduction in anxiety and anxious reactions to triggers.
For more strategies for coping with anxiety disorders, or for medical advice diagnosis or treatment of existing anxiety disorders, you should talk to a mental health professional. Mental health professionals are specially licensed to give medical advice diagnosis, and other treatments, so it’s necessary to talk to a doctor or other professional before undergoing treatment for anxiety disorders.
What are 5 ways to control anxiety?
- Deep Breathing: Taking a deep breath is a great way to work against anxiety disorders. Deep breathing brings nearly instant stress relief, since it can help relieve anxiety symptoms by bringing down your heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Deep breathing also alleviates muscle tension. By easing these physical symptoms of stress and anxiety, deep breathing sends messages to your mind to relax. It can also relieve stress by giving you a moment to reflect before you react.
- Healthy Diet: Getting the right vitamins and macronutrients is a key to living a life without chronic stress. It is one of the more effective methods for managing both the physical symptoms and mental implications of stress and anxiety. Managing stress in your body is easier when you stick to healthy diet. Plus, foods that are high in fat and sugar can cause extra strain on your body and mind, which could add to the existing effects of anxiety.
- Getting Enough Sleep: Sleep is a crucial ingredient for a healthy sympathetic nervous system. This is the system of nerves that sends messages from your brain to your whole body. When you have better control over these messages – that is, when the nervous system is sending clear messages – you can better assess and manage stress and anxiety. You can improve sleep schedule by cutting back on coffee, energy drinks, and alcohol. Plus, you can try making a schedule to help standardize your sleeping schedule.
- Doing Plenty of Exercise: Exercise is a great way to reduce the symptoms of anxiety in both the short term and the long term. In the moment, physical activity feels good and helps with managing stress. It can help you feel in control of your body and mind, which is a great form of stress management. Regular exercise is a healthy way to ward off anxiety and reduce stress. It can also help improve your overall mental health over time.
- Strong Social Connections: Turning to others in your personal life for help and social support is one of the healthy ways for reducing stress and anxiety. In many situations, it helps to have a trusted friend or family member nearby to talk through all of the things that cause you stress and anxiety. Just talking through the stressors and triggers can be a healthy way to reduce stress and put those stressors into perspective.
What triggers anxiety?
Some of the most common triggers of anxiety and feelings of anxiety include:
- Changes at work, such as a new job or loss of a job
- Lack of friends or support during a specific season in life
- Changes in friends, such as changing schools or moving to a new place
- Abuse (verbal, sexual, physical, and/or emotional)
- Substance abuse (excessive intake of drugs and/or alcohol)
- Relationship problems (with friends, a family member, and/or a romantic partner)
- Emotional shock, often following traumatic events in life
- Pregnancy, giving birth, and/or transition into parenthood
- Death or loss of a family member / loved one
- Other underlying mental health conditions, such as depression
Of course, this list isn’t exhaustive, and it doesn’t account for the buildup of prolonged stress over time. In fact, according to many personal stories and researched medical advice, people who experience prolonged stress are at a much higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder or experiencing anxiety symptoms. They may also suffer from physical symptoms of stress, such as trouble falling asleep and/or staying asleep, stomach problems, trouble concentrating, and headaches.
Why I am anxious for no reason?
Most people don’t experience anxiety for no reason at all. Instead, if you feel anxious for what seems like no reason at all, there might actually be something under the surface that is causing the anxiety. For example, prolonged stress is a very common cause of anxiety. This means that even if you’re just going normally about life, the stress of it can build up and lead to anxiety that seems to appear or come out from “nothing.”
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