What Helps Anxiety? Five Tips For Addressing Anxiety Symptoms
Most people experience feelings of anxiety at some point in their lives. Anxiety can involve worried thoughts, tense feelings, and even physical changes. It can often be uncomfortable to experience, but there are ways to cope with this feeling. Here, we’ll take a look at anxiety and anxiety disorders, and we’ll outline a few tips for how to decrease the symptoms associated with anxiety.
What Is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a common feeling characterized by worry or apprehension, and it often includes physical symptoms such as tense muscles, faster breathing, and a rapid heartbeat. If you have a big presentation or an important test, you may be anxious about how you will perform. When you don’t know how an event will turn out, you may feel stressed, worried, and anxious about it.
In many cases, a feeling of anxiety makes sense and may not be cause for larger concern. However, when you are anxious for a long period, or your anxiety is negatively affecting multiple aspects of your life, it could be an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders involve anxiety that persists for an extended period of time, and they can include panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and various phobias, for example. Anxiety can also coexist in the presence of other mental health conditions, including depression.
Here is a look at some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders:
Increased heart rate
Feelings of panic or intense fear
Having trouble breathing
Focusing only on your fear or worry
Avoidance of certain situations
Unable to sleep
Tips To Decrease Anxiety Symptoms
Experiencing anxiety can be uncomfortable and disruptive, but there are ways to address the symptoms and find some relief. Included below are a few tips to consider.
Get Adequate Sleep
Getting adequate, quality sleep at night is important for several reasons. Sleep gives your mind and body a chance to reset, which can help you feel more in control when you wake up. It can help stabilize your mood and allow you to be able to get through your daily tasks more smoothly. It may be helpful to try to go to sleep at the same time each night, even on the weekends. After doing this for a while, your body may start to get tired at the same time each day, which could mean you will have an easier time going to sleep each night.
Try Deep Breathing
Breathing deeply may help to relieve some of the anxiety you’re feeling. Anxiety often causes faster breathing or short breaths, so when you breathe deeply, you not only give your body a chance to steady your breathing again, but you also give yourself a moment to change what you are doing and shift your focus. Sometimes when you take yourself out of a stressful situation for a few minutes, you can gain a new perspective on what’s going on. Try to stop and take deep breaths whenever you start to feel anxious or stressed.
Eat Healthy Meals
Eating a healthy diet can be beneficial for more than just your physical health, it can also have mental health benefits as well. When we’re stressed and anxious, many of us reach for sugary foods, junk food, or other “comfort foods.” While this is understandable, it may not be the best idea. Instead, try to eat a balanced diet, and consider limiting caffeine, which may exacerbate anxiety. In addition, certain foods may also help ease anxiety. For instance, a randomized control trial in 2011 found that increasing omega-3 in the diet can lessen anxiety in some individuals.
Pay Attention To Stressors
It may also be helpful to try to identify what seems to prompt your feelings of anxiety. In some cases, these things may be obvious, but at other times, you may have trouble pinpointing them. One approach to consider is to keep track of your activities and emotions in a journal so that you can try to recognize certain patterns. Perhaps you notice that your anxiety spikes ahead of certain activities, or after certain habits or interactions. By identifying what may be prompting these feelings, you may be able to incorporate changes to either remove those stressors or prepare more effective ways to cope with them.
Challenge Anxious Thoughts
Challenging anxious thoughts may also be a useful approach for reducing anxiety. For example, if your brain tells you that you need to feel apprehensive about a situation, you may be able to recall a time when you did something similar, and it turned out well. This is a technique that may work best with the help of a professional counselor as well. A counselor can explain how this process works, provide further guidance, and may walk you through how to implement this in your life.
How Online Therapy Can Help
While the above tips may be helpful, sometimes, managing anxiety can be too difficult to handle on your own. For those who want additional support, seeking help through therapy is another option. Therapy may be able to help you to challenge anxious thoughts, manage your anxiety in healthy ways, and gain key tools to help you handle certain situations more effectively.
For individuals with anxiety, sometimes the prospect of finding a therapist, going to a new location, and navigating an unknown situation can feel very daunting. Online therapy, such as through BetterHelp, has the benefit of being able to happen wherever you have an internet connection. So, you can match with a therapist online and then have therapy sessions from wherever you feel most comfortable, including your own home.
Research has shown that online therapy can be an effective treatment option for a range of concerns, including anxiety. For example, a 2019 study published in JMIR Formative Research examined an internet-based cognitive therapy program for social anxiety disorder. The researchers found that the online treatment was effective for individuals with social anxiety disorder, and that “there was evidence to suggest that the patients’ clinical outcomes were sustained at 3-month follow-up.” Online therapy may be able to provide lasting results for those experiencing social anxiety.
Anxiety can feel uncomfortable and cause significant disruptions in your life, especially if you have an anxiety disorder. But, there are steps you can take and approaches you can try to manage your anxiety and find relief. If you are experiencing anxiety, you may consider trying out some of the tips detailed above, and for further support, an online therapist can help.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What foods worsen anxiety?
There may be several foods and drinks that can make you feel more anxious than usual, including alcohol, caffeine, and sugary foods. You may consider monitoring alcohol intake if you have anxiety, and if possible, it may be beneficial to switch to drinking coffee with no caffeine as well as caffeine-free sodas. Sugary snacks and drinks can also have a negative impact on your anxiety.
Can anxiety have physical symptoms?
Yes, anxiety disorders can cause individuals to experience physical symptoms. Some physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
Trembling or shaking
Heart palpitations, increased heart rate
Dizziness or lightheadedness
Muscle tension throughout the body
Chest pain and shortness of breath
While some individuals may experience many of these physical symptoms due to their anxiety, others may not. Physical symptoms of anxiety can also range in severity and frequency.
How can you reduce physical symptoms of anxiety?
If you are experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety, you might consider some of these approaches to try to reduce your symptoms:
Avoid anxiety triggers
Practice deep breathing
Get adequate sleep
Avoid eating certain foods or drinks, such as caffeine.