HOW TO MANAGE ANXIETY - 7 TIPS
Today, it's common knowledge that we all experience stress. In fact, this is what makes us human. But stressors don't start in adulthood, so it's extremely important that we also include children in these discussions.
The statistics show that mental illness has never been so high. On average, 1 in 5 adults have mental health issues and the rate of depression and anxiety in youth is rising.
Here are 7 tips you can use to manage the inevitable ups and downs before they spiral out of control.
But first a quick 101 on anxiety...
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is simply the body's reaction to stressful, dangerous, or unfamiliar situations. It's the sense of uneasiness, distress, or dread you feel before a significant event.
So, how can we manage it?
1. Be Aware of Your thoughts
Try to observe your thoughts as an outsider. Be interested in and take note of what’s going on but without judging or attaching to them. Then just let them go.
They’ll come back again, don’t get me wrong – but continue to practice the same "thought watching" technique and they will slowly lessen. This is otherwise known as being “mindful”.
More information on being mindful can be found here.
2. Get out of your head
Sometimes it’s best not to even contend with the thoughts. Sometimes you just need a break.
Watch a movie, phone or catch up with a friend, or do something positive that you know takes your mind off things.
3. Make simple diet changes
Reducing your alcohol, caffeine and sugar consumption is a sure way to reduce anxiety peaks and the lulls that follow.
You’ve heard it before – but you are what you eat.
Be mindful of having a balanced and healthy diet.
4. Talk it out
Don’t block it all inside. Talk to someone close to you about your worries or the thing that make you feel uneasy. Sharing your worries is literally halving them.
And, most of our worries sound a lot less worrisome when we say them out loud.
If you don’t feel up to sharing with someone, write them down instead. Journalling is also a great way to release these concerns. Or you could engage an independent professional provider. There are plenty of services available, including free services (which you can quickly google to understand what's available in your local city).
5. Sweat it out
Exercising is a guaranteed way to reduce stress. It has also been found to be as effective as antidepressants in relieving mild depression.
Psychologist Stephen Ilardi explains, “Exercise changes the brain. It increases the activity level of important brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin….”
So get moving.
6. Reduce the noise
Switching off from technology and the constant stimuli thrown at us hourly, is an important way to slow down. It's sounds obvious, but how often do you do take time out?
Make time for some quietness each day and you'll notice how all those seemingly urgent things we feel we need to get done, become less important.
Plus, the to-do list will always be there. Recharging is the most effective way of tackling it. That, and ensuring your brain doesn't over fuse.
7. Use your senses
A great tool that you have on hand at all times, is the ability to tap into your senses.
This is an old meditative trick you can use, anywhere anytime. By tuning into your senses; sight, smell, touch, taste and sound, this will automatically slow down the brain.
Spend at least one minute on each.
What can you see? Look close and far, colours, shapes and lights.
What can you hear? Hear as many sounds as you can, and keep looking for new noises. Don’t focus on any one sound for too long.
What can you taste? This is less interesting when you’re not eating – but try to last the minute.
What can you smell? Focus on the smells around you – what are they and how many can you find?
What can you feel? Send your attention to the parts of your body that are in contact with the earth, a chair or a table perhaps. Feel your feet planted on the floor and experience the grounding effect that this has while holding you stable in the world.
Try them out and see what works best for you.