For many people, anxiety is a part of daily life. We may have anxiety over work, school, relationships, money or a variety of other concerns.
In many cases, anxiety remains at manageable levels and doesn’t interfere with basic everyday tasks. In other cases, though, anxiety can become so overwhelming that it affects sleep, eating habits and concentration. It can lead to headaches, upset stomach and, in some people, panic attacks.
If you’re someone who experiences this sort of anxiety, know that you have options. There are a number of strategies you can try to help contain and cope with anxiety.
Diet and Substance Intake
- Balanced meals: Eat meals that are nutritionally balanced. Don’t skip meals, and try to keep healthy, energy-boosting snacks on hand.
- Alcohol and caffeine: Alcohol and caffeine can both aggravate anxiety or trigger panic attacks. If you struggle with anxiety, try drinking more water or other non-caffeinated alternatives.
Getting exercise daily will help you feel good and maintain basic health. A few general exercise tips to help you see the largest benefits include:
- Set goals: Set and aim for daily, consistent goals. It’s much better to get a moderate workout every day than to just do one or two heavy days of exercise per week. Scientific data suggests frequency is the most important factor here.
- Make exercising fun: Look for types of exercise that are enjoyable for you. Extroverts often prefer classes or group activities, while introverts may prefer individual activities.
- Find entertainment while exercising: Music, podcasts, audiobooks or other forms of entertainment help people enjoy working out more.
- Get an exercise buddy: It can be easier for many people to stick with exercise programs if they have someone else to stay committed to.
- Be patient: It’s going to take some time to get into your exercise program, especially if you haven’t done much physical activity recently. Give yourself at least four to eight weeks to feel fully coordinated and in shape.
- Get enough exercise: The “5×30” rule is good for most people—take part in some aerobic activity three to five times a week, for 30 minutes at a time.
Attitude and Approach
- Sleep: Your body needs additional sleep if stress and anxiety are large factors. Try to get eight hours of sleep per night.
- Maintain a positive attitude: It’s not always easy to keep a positive attitude, but try to do your best and be comfortable with it—perfection isn’t always possible. Try to replace negative thoughts with positive ones whenever possible, and focus on what you can control.
- Avoid triggers: Do specific events or people trigger your anxiety? Learn how to identify these triggers and any patterns you can change or avoid. Journaling helps some people lay out these patterns.
- Give back: Volunteering or finding a way to give back to the community will make you feel good, help you create a support network and take you away from daily stress.
- Talk to someone: Maybe it’s friends or family, or maybe it’s a physician or a therapist—talking to people about your feelings can be very beneficial for some.
- Try breathing exercises: Many people tend to hold their breath when they get anxious. Try to breathe through the diaphragm in these cases, and practice breathing exercises during times of minimal stress so you’re ready later.
- Practice meditation and other techniques: Yoga, meditation, massage or even a simple “count to 10” process can help many people relax.
- Don’t add stress: Try not to compound one stressor by adding another.
Medications will not cure anxiety, but they can help control it. A few medications include:
- Benzodiazepines (either alone or in coordination with antidepressants)
- Beta-blockers (can prevent physical symptoms that come with certain anxiety disorders, especially social phobia)
If you’re struggling with anxiety, speak to your doctor about possible options for coping with and controlling your specific symptoms.
Revere Health Orem Family Medicine is devoted to comprehensive healthcare for patients of all ages. Our commitment is to provide thorough and timely health care for the entire family throughout all stages of life. We revere our patients’ health above all else and work together to help them live better.
“Tips to Manage Anxiety and Stress.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. https://www.adaa.org/tips-manage-anxiety-and-stress
“Coping With Anxiety.” WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/features/coping-with-anxiety#1