Anxiety disorders can affect your job, relationships, and quality of life. And the statistics are staggering: Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in this country alone.
Luckily, as horrible as anxiety disorders are, there are plenty of things you can do to curb your anxious feelings and thoughts.
What exactly is an anxiety disorder?
By definition, an anxiety disorder is a common mental illness defined by feelings of uneasiness, worry, and fear. Some anxious feelings are a normal part of life, especially if you’re going through a stressful period. But if you’re noticing a frequency of symptoms or it’s impacting your daily life, you may need to see a doctor for a diagnosis.
All anxiety is not created equal
Anxiety is a complicated issue. There are short-term and long-term anxiety disorders that range from only affecting one situation (like a fear of heights) to plain old every day panic disorders.
Common short-term anxiety disorders include:
- Acute stress disorder
- Adjustment disorder with anxious features
- Substance-induced anxiety disorder
Common long-term anxiety disorders include (among others):
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
All of these disorders have a range of symptoms but still share one common thread: The anxiety itself. Read on for helpful tools that can help you curb your anxious feelings and potential panic attacks.
1. Stay active
If it seems like exercise is the cure for everything, that’s because it works wonders for your well-being. But certain exercises have been known to help keep anxiety and depression at bay, especially cardiovascular activity like running, or better yet, hiking outdoors.
2. Have some tea
If you enjoy chamomile or green tea, increase your daily dosage and stop anxiety before it starts. Some compounds in chamomile bind to the brain receptors the same way Valium would. And the L-theanine in green tea helps curb your rising heart rate and blood pressure, helping you stay calm.
3. Keep lavender around
Lavender simply smells soothing, and the science behind it may back that up. The aroma of lavender is often called an “emotional anti-inflammatory,” and in a German study, a specially formulated lavender pill helped reduce anxiety symptoms in people with generalized anxiety disorder as effectively as Ativan.
4. Take a probiotic daily
The more we learn about our gut bacteria, the more we’re discovering how much it affects all areas of our health. And according to recent research, taking the probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum can help reduce your anxiety. Taking a probiotic is beneficial for a number of reasons, so it couldn’t hurt to try.
5. Get in your daily ‘om’
Meditation is one of the best things anyone with an anxiety disorder can do. In fact, the latest research shows that meditation works as well as commonly prescribed anti-anxiety medications. Anxiety changes the structure of your brain, and regular meditation has been shown to help reverse those changes.