The world in 2020 is significant for anxiety sufferers for two main reasons. We have a much better understanding of anxiety, so we have many more ways to treat and manage anxiety. (Society is also a lot more sympathetic.) And yet, the peculiarities of uncertain times caused by the novel COVID-19 virus seem to induce and increase anxiety for many of us. It is very difficult to escape.
Anxiety is many things to different people. It is more than just worrying about a problem, although stressful events and news can certainly increase it. We all feel stressed out or anxious from time to time, but there are people in whose lives anxiety has become a constant guest. Alarm occurs in a healthy, normally functioning brain that works too hard to protect itself from fear. An anxious mind is susceptible to danger, and often it turns on the “panic” button just in case. It is beneficial when there is something to worry about, but if it happens too often, it becomes a problem.
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America determine anxiety as being characterised by ‘persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things.’ Worry is difficult to control, and sufferers experience more days where they can’t control anxiety than when they can. However, if you experience anxiety, there are loads of helpful ways to help you manage your day-to-day worry. Anxiety doesn’t have to stop you living your life. Read on to learn more about how you might be able to manage your anxiety on your own terms. They are listed in no particular order of importance.
Identify Your Triggers
Anxiety is a reaction to our body, which, unfortunately, we cannot control. At the same time, our anxieties are often set off by specific stressors. Before you can successfully manage your anxiety, you need to be able to understand what triggers are. Also, try to determine your first stress signals such as difficulty in concentrating, changes in appetite/sleep, headaches, stomach pains or a combination of symptoms. You can’t manage what you don’t monitor.
Stressors and triggers can be anything, from routine to incidental. For some people, it can be getting out of the house to go to an event where there will be lots of other people. For others, it may be dark days without any sunlight, or your family, work or school.
Workload, financial problems, or family relationships, whatever your triggers may be, know that they are valid. These things affect you, and that’s okay. Monitoring and accepting them is an important stage in managing your anxiety.
Consider Using CBD Oil
CBD, the cool name for Cannabidiol, is moving further into the mainstream as people understand better how CBD products can help with treating anxiety. CBD is a safe, non-addictive substance found in the cannabis plant, and it is the bit that doesn’t get you high (that’s THC compound). In contrast, CBD is not psychoactive, which makes its potential benefits so appealing as well as progress in treating anxiety and depression.
CBD interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid system, a system which is vital for regulating a series of physiological processes such as mood, energy levels, hunger, how we experience pain, stress and many more. To help treat anxiety, CBD acts on the brain’s receptors for serotonin, which regulate your mood, how you feel and your behaviour.
Benefits of CBD oil and its therapeutic properties are gaining increased recognition as a legitimate treatment for a range of ailments, including anxiety. There are plenty of ways to take it, including CBD oil, gummies, balms, creams and many more. However, be sure to do your own research to work out what is best for you and consider talking to a health professional beforehand.
In recent years, doctors and therapists have increasingly prescribed exercise to treat anxiety, in some cases referring people to personal trainers. Exercise suppresses the body’s stress hormones in the long run and produces endorphins, chemicals which positively affect your mood and work as natural painkillers.
Regular exercise also helps to improve your sleep — poor sleep can exacerbate anxiety, and vice versa — and gives you more confidence. As you exercise more and achieve more, you’ll feel great about the achievements you are making. As well as reducing the negative elements causing and exacerbating anxiety, exercise contributes positively to your physical and mental well being.
Don’t worry; you don’t have to hit the weights or get out for a run and pound the pavement every morning. If you are going to start exercising, choose something you enjoy doing — there’s little point doing something hard if you don’t want to do it. Find a buddy so you can motivate each other, and consider the type of exercise you want to do. Extroverts often lean towards group activities like dance classes, while introverts prefer solitary exercise like running. Walking at a good pace for 30 minutes, five days a week is enough to get your weekly dose of vital physical activity.
Try Out Massage Sessions
Very often necessary and useful things to do unpleasant, but this is not the case. Massage works, even if it seems at first glance, too easy way to recover. Studies have shown that five sessions of Swedish massage can significantly reduce anxiety symptoms and blood cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Swedish massage is a classic massage technique consisting of intensive kneading of muscle tissue. People suffering from permanent anxiety disorder received two 45-minute massage sessions per week for six weeks. Already in the fifth session, the symptoms of anxiety were significantly reduced. It was accompanied by a decrease in the symptoms of depression.
Another study showed that massage reduces cortisol levels by 31% on average, and also raises serotonin levels by 28% and dopamine by 31%. Anxiety and low serotonin and dopamine levels correlate with each other. The exact reasons for this are not clear, but the importance of touch in maintaining good physical and mental health has been proven. Frequent touching (of course, pleasant, not the kind that makes people want to run away) improves the immune system, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, strengthens the bonds between people and improves their well-being. But if massage is not your option, think about the next point.
Eat Well-Balanced Meals
Our moods might rise and fall with our energy levels. When we have eaten well, we feel good, but we can feel low when we haven’t. Our body will feel sluggish and lethargic, and a lack of food can stop us from thinking clearly. Aside from energy boost, intestinal health is essential for a psychological condition: the healthier the intestine, the more robust the psyche. We know that the gastrointestinal tract is home to trillions of germs. They send signals to the brain that can change our mood or behaviour.
Useful living intestinal bacteria are the stars in the world of mental health, which is why it is advantageous to eat food that contains probiotics. By changing the composition of the intestinal microflora towards more beneficial bacteria, probiotics reduce anxiety. They are found, for example, in yoghurt and kefir, sauerkraut and soybean products.
Additionally, try to maintain regular, healthy meals and cut out simple carbohydrates: they release their sugar quickly and don’t last for very long, causing your energies to spike quickly and then drop suddenly. Don’t skip meals, and keep healthy, energy-boosting snacks close by or take them with you when you head out. Also, try to unhook yourself from sugar — it can worsen feelings of anxiety. If you find yourself reaching for chocolate or soda, replace that habit with a banana or water. You don’t have to abstain from your urges, just replace them with healthier alternatives.
Talk To Someone
Whether you talk to a friend or a professional therapist, it is important to let your anxieties out. Saying them out loud can help you understand your worries for what they are. When you discuss emerging issues or challenging situations, social support from your family members, relatives, colleagues, friends, or even professionals might be helpful in finding solutions and getting through difficult times faster.
A therapist can help you process your anxiety better in the long term. Various therapies can help you alter your patterns of thinking and trauma responses. Exposure therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, for instance, both help you to change the patterns of thought that cause your anxiety.
Reconsider Your Caffeine & Alcohol Intake
Both of these drugs — that’s what they are, drugs — affect anxiety but in very different ways. Caffeine is known as a stimulant that can increase anxiety by increasing brain activity. Coffee and tea are healthy in moderation, but caffeine can cause people to be jittery and nervous. Consider cutting back if you notice this.
Alcohol, on the other hand, is a depressant, and it suppresses hormones that boost your mood. That’s why hangovers are miserable. There is no healthy amount of alcohol to drink, particularly if you are struggling with anxiety.
Write It Down, Keep A Journal
Journaling has taken off in recent years as a productivity tool and for its personal, therapeutic effects. It’s a simple habit that has many benefits for physical and emotional health and can be easily incorporated into your morning, working time, or evening schedule.
Writing out your anxieties can help you process and work through them, and make them seem more manageable. Before journaling, your concerns are an infinite jumble of thoughts that you can’t organise or hold on to. But when you write them down, they are reduced to words that you can write down. Another tactic that journalers find productive is writing down what you are grateful for. This helps you to reduce stress, appreciate and focus on the positives in your life.