Anxiety: It may show up the night before a big presentation, when you’re stuck in rush hour, or before you board a long international flight. Experiencing feelings of occasional anxiety is a completely normal part of life. Everyone gets worried or obsesses over things outside of their control. When this happens, your heart rate may increase, you may have trouble sleeping, and you may have trouble concentrating.
The good news is you can beat occasional anxiety by altering your habits and adjusting the way you react when anxiety sets in. Use these tips to take control of your anxiety for good.
1. Recognize your triggers
Step back and take some time to evaluate what people, events, or situations ramp up your anxiety. Do you get anxious before public speaking or when you have to see certain people? Whatever it is that causes your anxiety is your trigger. A trigger can be either physical or emotional and must be faced in order to alleviate, or at least minimize its effect on you. Once you’re aware of your triggers, you can begin working to manage your emotional reaction to the situation by understanding where the anxiety is coming from and why you naturally want to react the way you do.
2. Get plenty of sleep
Getting adequate, regular sleep is vital in maintaining your physical and mental health. Inconsistent or poor sleep has some serious consequences including an increased risk of chronic disease. In addition, being sleep deprived can lead to higher levels of anxiety and can actually cause an anxiety disorder. Make a point to get seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep nightly and establish a regular, relaxing bedtime routine that prepares your mind and body for sleep.
3. Be aware of your breathing
When anxiety hits, your breathing will be quick and shallow as your “fight or flight” response kicks in. If you bring the awareness to your breath and consciously focus on taking slow, deep breaths, this signals to your body that everything is OK and you will naturally calm down. Taking control of your breath can train the body’s reaction to stressful situations and dampen the production of stress hormones.
4. Eat right
When you’re feeling anxious, your appetite may change and you may crave sugary, processed foods. To help manage and beat anxiety, you’ll need to feed your body whole foods that give it the nutrients it needs. Eat foods that contain higher levels of vitamin B and omega-3s. Vitamin B is linked to good mental health while omega-3s may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Whole-grain carbohydrates are another great option as they help regulate your serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that helps you remain calm.
5. Visualize your way to calm
When anxiety takes hold, you can manage it by using visualization to imagine yourself in a safe, peaceful environment that makes you happy and relaxed. Visualization can lower blood pressure and the level of stress hormones in the blood. You can also use this visualization technique to actually picture yourself taking control of the situation that is making you anxious in a calm manner.