In a fast-paced, high-pressure world, it’s a wonder we aren’t all constantly suffering from panic attacks and heart attacks. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems, and anxiety can contribute to depression, procrastination and even anger problems. Whether you struggle with the anxiety caused by daily inconveniences such as traffic or you’re facing major life stressors such as divorce, it is possible to learn to cope with anxiety.
Most of us have heard that deep breathing and mindful thinking can help to eliminate anxiety, but these strategies can also backfire. Anxiety tends to fester when anxiety sufferers fixate on it, and when traditional anxiety remedies don’t work immediately, this can actually make anxiety worse.
One of the simplest ways to temporarily alleviate anxiety is to find a distraction that prevents your mind from wandering. Walking your dog, playing a video game or reading a riveting book can all help eliminate anxiety. Moreover, recreational activities can help to alleviate anxiety on a long-term basis, so take time each day to do something fun that completely takes your mind off of stress.
Exercise is perhaps the single most effective strategy for fighting anxiety. Aerobic exercise releases endorphins that can help you feel happier and less stressed. Over time, exercise can also help your body produce lower quantities of stress hormones such as cortisol. Because exercise improves blood pressure and pulse, it also works to alleviate the physical symptoms of anxiety and helps your body avoid reacting to stress with panic.
Anxiety isn’t just all in your head. It also takes its toll on your body. If you’re not living a healthy lifestyle, it’s easier for your brain to default to an anxious setting, causing you to feel frightened and jittery even when you’re not facing external stressors.
Some foods are especially likely to increase anxiety. Caffeine and sugar have both been shown to worsen stress, particularly among people who consume large quantities of these foods.