According to the NHS of UK “anxiety can be described as a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone has feelings of anxiety at some point in their life” and symptoms can differ from person to person.
The most common type of anxiety disorder is termed general anxiety disorder (GAD).
It “is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things. People with GAD may anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. Individuals with GAD find it difficult to control their worry. They may worry more than seems warranted about actual events or may expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern.”https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad
Symptoms of general anxiety are:
- increased heart rate
- rapid breathing
- trouble concentrating
- difficulty falling asleep
- gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- nervousness, irritability, or edginess
A number of environmental, psychological, genetic and social factors can impact the likelihood of you experiencing anxiety. These can include medical problems such as drug and substance abuse, chronic pain and thyroid problems, side effects of drugs and other underlying medical problems and risk factors such as trauma, personality type and other mental illnesses.
Anxiety is a prevalent issue these days especially in light of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Unfortunately, anxiety can lead to a host of other problems such as depression, insomnia and social isolation, among others. Therefore today I thought I would share 7 self-care practices that you can try to help you alleviate your anxiety.
Please note that these are simply suggestions and my recommendations and are no way medical advice.
Self-Care Tips for Anxiety
Seek professional help. Regardless of how severe your anxiety is seeking help from a professional can be very beneficial in understanding and treating your anxiety. They can offer a variety of tips and tricks tailored to your specific needs.
Avoid stimulants such as alcohol which has both stimulant and depressive attributes, caffeine and cigarettes. These substances increase brain activity which can lead to anxiety. They should be eliminated or greatly reduced in your life.
Try meditation or breathwork. The breath is a useful tool in helping you deal with your anxiety. Whatever emotion you are experiencing at any given moment, the breath changes with it. By bringing your awareness to your breath, you can use it to alleviate your distress.
Settle down in a comfortable position, either on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, seated crossed legged on the floor, laying flat on your back or standing with your feet planted on the floor. Make sure you are relaxed and that your back is straight but in a comfortable position.
Close your eyes or lower your gaze and stare at a point ahead of you. How does your body feel? Simply notice the sensations. Bring your attention to your breath. How does it feel? Notice without changing the rhythm then gently after the count of 3, inhale for the count of 4, hold for the count of 4, exhale for the count of 4, and hold for the count of 4. Do this a few times until you feel your body loosen and your anxiety abates. This is called box breathing and it can help you calm your nervous system.
Create a night time routine. Poor sleep quality can increase your anxiety levels. When you are tired you are more easily stressed and lack the mental capacity to handle daily life hassles. Additionally, insomnia can be a side effect of anxiety, therefore having a sleep system to help you unwind and prepare your mind to sleep can be beneficial. Aim for at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night. The intention of your night time routine is to help you relax enough that you feel less anxious to sleep.
Stay active and connected. Being anxious especially enduring panic attacks can make you fearful of going out, taking part in activities and spending time around people. However, isolating yourself can make you feel even more anxious because you worry that you are missing out or disappointing the people in your life. If possible try to engage in some activities that bring you joy and surround yourself with people that love you. Remember you are not alone and it is okay to reach out for help. The people who care about you will not mind.
Confront your thoughts. Sometimes releasing the thoughts whirling around inside our heads can help you see how irrational and unrealistic your worries are. Try writing out or speaking aloud the things that are worrying you. Ask yourself if they make sense or whether your fears are even as big has it seems. You may be surprised to see that it is not.
Nurture your body. Our mind and body are linked, so taking of our physical health can contribute to our mental health. Eat nourishing foods that you enjoy, warm yourself in the gentle rays of the morning sun, go out and breathe the fresh air, talk a short walk and observe the beauty of world, stretch, dance, run, swim or do yoga. Enjoy your body and wonder at the marvelous creation that it is.
Anxiety is a normal response but can become a debilitating experience. I hope these tips can help you in some way.
Thank you for reading.