We will at some point, all experience anxiety in one form or another. From feeling anxious, and/or being slightly irritable, cranky and taking it out on our poor unfortunate dearly beloved, or feeling nervous because of an interview or an exam, or an upcoming event and creating scenarios (mostly negative ones) in our heads about what may happen. More often than not, these negative scenarios have no basis of truth to them, but the fear monkey gets involved and before we know it, we have carnage happening in our noggin! If this is not managed, it could manifest itself into phobias, panic attacks, sleep problems and social anxiety, none of which we want, right? Anxiety is exhibited through physical and emotional responses to perceived dangers (not always real), and it’s these little perceptions that can, at times, send us over the edge, like an over full inbox, morning rush hour, being late for a meeting or losing our keys just before running out the door. However, the shining light of great news is here! With a few little tweaks to our daily lives, we can calm the monkeys, and reduce our anxiety levels so that we can live a happy anxious free life.
So, to help, we have detailed our top 6 best ‘tweaks’ to help minimise or remove anxiety from our lives…
A key factor to overcoming anything is getting enough sleep. We cannot stress enough how important sleep is to our overall health and well being. Having inconsistent sleep patterns can send our hormones and metabolism up the creek and can lead to serious consequences, so it’s important to get some quality pillow time (7-9 hours a night) and after a few days of sweet slumber, it is amazing just how much clearer of worries and anxiety our bodies will feel. Another good way to getting in the zz’s is to ‘cat nap’. Having a 30-40 min nap in the afternoon is a brilliant way to help improve our mood, alertness, performance and general well being. So grab a pillow and get snoozing!
What we eat really does make a huge difference to how our bodies work. More often than not, when we are ‘anxious’ our eating habits change. Whether that’s binge eating or a reduction in appetite, or we just crave the worst types of food. So it’s important we try to look after our body and ‘feed’ it well. The best way to do this is to go for foods high in Vitamin B: Poultry (chicken and turkey), eggs, vegetables, red meat as well as food rich in Omega 3 such as seafood, walnuts, flaxseed and hempseed as these are especially important for mental health and reducing anxiety. Add to that wholegrain carbohydrates, like oats, brown rice, quinoa, rye bread etc which activates our ‘Feel good’ neurotransmitter to keep calm by sending out serotonin, and you have a veritable feast of food that is helping us from the inside out.
There’s no denying the benefits of working up a sweat on our health, but more and more people are becoming aware of the immense mental benefits that exercise can provide too. If you are experiencing a bout of anxiety, it will honestly be the last thing you’re going to want to do. Curling up in a ball seems like a much better option. But if you can just force yourself to move in some way, it will really help. That doesn’t mean go for a long run or do an intense boxing class… just a simple walk or gentle yoga with some stretching will transform your mind. So next time you feel anxious, take a deep breath and move in whatever way you can. Play some music and just go with the flow… you will surprise yourself.
A messy place is a messy mind and can send us into chaos without even trying. So take 15 minutes or so to tidy up your living space, your desk area and then make a habit to keep on top of it. Whether that’s doing the dishes once they are used, or putting the washing away immediately rather than letting it sit there so as to not cause any undue anxiety. These are all sure-fire ways to help us think rationally, which leads very little space for anxiety to inhabit. Tidying is also a good distraction from overthinking, and the end result is an organised living space, which will undoubtedly make you feel really good!
Another reason to put on a comedy or have friends over for a giggle, or looking up funny you tube clips. Laughter is a great way to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Our bodies are amazing and it’s very hard to stay down when you are literally smiling your face off, so grin like a Cheshire cat and let your happiness rise to the surface for a bit and feel how your levels of anxiety start to fade away. If that wasn’t enough, smiling is contagious, ever noticed how when one person is truly smiling, you can’t help but smile with them? So gather your funniest friends and just take a moment to laugh!
Yes you read correctly, releasing the worry we have pent up inside us is a great way in helping us overcome our anxiety. Commit to worrying about it for 20 minutes, but no more. Wallowing is not going to help, but giving ourselves a designated time to think about all the possible outcomes of the scenario, working out some plan of actions or responses etc and then stopping after 20 mins is a great way to help alleviate the anxiety. If concern of knowing when to stop is there, ask a friend to call, this acts as a distraction and changes our focus; If that’s not possible, plan something to swap the thought process, going to the gym, cooking, reading a book or better yet sleep! All of those help act as a distraction from the worry and that worry becomes less important. Instead of suppressing our feelings which we usually do and do for longer than is healthy for us, start small, make little changes in your day to day life and your anxiety will start to reduce and we will be on the right path to help achieve a balanced and healthy wellbeing… who doesn’t want that?
Words by Carole Armitage: Personal Trainer, Wellness Consultant and Founder of Carole’s Kitchen