Senses heightened, everything is amplified, the world feels too fast and too loud. The feeling that something is wrong or that something bad is about to happen. This is anxiety. If you experience it you will want to find ways to reduce anxiety.
According to the findings of a major University of Cambridge report published in 2016 more than eight million people in the UK suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder.
So anxiety is a common part of modern life, and the symptoms can be disruptive and massively affect quality of life. Symptoms of anxiety include feeling tense or on edge, a sense of dread, dwelling on negative experiences, sleep disruption, restlessness, inability to concentrate and feeling numb.
I have battled anxiety my entire life. This means I’ve learned many strategies and techniques to cope with and reduce my anxiety. I’m going to share my ten most helpful strategies for reducing anxiety.
Ten ways to reduce anxiety;
Visit your GP. If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, and find that anxiety is disrupting your daily life my first recommendation is to seek professional help. Your GP can help you to find appropriate medication or refer you to therapy to help with your anxiety.
Practise mindfullness. I’ve found mindfulness a massively helpful tool in learning to manage my anxiety. I used Headspace daily for around four months, and found it enormously helpful in reducing my anxiety levels. It teaches the ability to step away from the worries and anxiety of day to day life and to choose to focus on positivity and clarity instead.
I don’t practise regularly now due to my busy schedule but feel I still reap the benefits as I’m able to incorporate the techniques I learned into my daily life.
Practise yoga. I practise yoga five mornings a week. I incorporate the techniques I learned from mindfulness and enjoy a holistic practise where I’m physically and mentally engaged. This feels beneficial for my physical and mental health.
I’ve experimented with various ways of practising. If you’ve never tried yoga before I’d recommend finding a class where you can get guidance from a teacher. I currently practise at home using the Down Dog app, which generates a new practise, based on a set of options, every day.
Healthy eating. I believe our diet has an impact on both physical and mental health. Focus on a healthy balanced diet where you eat lots of healthy, natural foods and avoid processed food and too much sugar and caffeine. This will impact on your blood sugar levels and overall health which will help you to feel calmer and more in control.
Sleep. Not getting enough sleep will make you feel rubbish. It’s simple. Aim for at least seven hours a night and try to stick to a routine of when you go to bed and when you wake.
Find a good level of rest and activity for your situation. Being too busy makes you feel stressed and anxious, conversely too much free time can allow too much time for worrying. A balance of rest and activity will leave you feeling satisfied and in control. What that looks like will depend on your situation.
I need a lot of rest because of my autism and CFS, so I have a schedule which allows for that but enough to do that I still feel connected and productive. Look at your needs and work out what balance is best for you.
Routine. Without my routine my anxiety increases. I think everybody benefits from a day to day routine. Considering the level of rest and activity discussed above I recommend starting a daily routine, with similar meal times and activity times. You will feel in control of your life, and know what you are doing, which will reduce anxiety.
Nature. I live in a city and sometimes city life can be hectic and noisy, which increases my anxiety. Finding time to go for a walk, or sit, somewhere in nature can be really helpful. There’s something about stepping away from the chaos of the city that makes me feel really at peace with myself. So I’d really recommend making time for this as part of your routine.
Pets. I have a cat and the companionship and comfort I get from her is really helpful for my mental health. Stroking her is calming and time with her is good for me. If pet ownership isn’t possible there are websites where you can organise to ‘borrow a dog’ or you can visit a cat cafe. Or just find a friend with a pet and ask if you can spend time with them.
Hobbies. My hobbies are reading, baking, Lego, and gaming (board and video). When I’m immersed in these activities my mind is calm, I am focussed and can forget about my worries. I recommend picking three or four activities you enjoy and choosing time to immerse yourself in them without distraction.
I have written these posts which could also be helpful in learning to manage anxiety;