Have you experienced anxiety before an important life event, worried about a work deadline, or nervous about an important exam? Fear, stress, and anxiety are normal feelings and experiences that are a part of life. While everyone most likely may experience some sort of anxiety in the course of their life, it can differ in what causes a person to feel anxious.
When anxiety begins to interfere with every day life and when worries, fears, and intrusive thoughts that are extreme, unrealistic, or exaggerated and interfere with normal life and functioning could constitute an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is more common than you think, but not always diagnosed. Over 40 million American adults are afflicted by anxiety disorders and only 1/3 of that population receives treatment. (1) If you feel like anxiety is interfering with every day life, it is recommended to talk to a physician or therapist for professional help.
If you are experiencing feelings of anxiety like nervousness, restlessness, rapid heart rate, difficulty focusing, or insomnia try these 8 healthy ways to cope with anxiety.
Take a time-out
Step back from the problem that is causing the anxiety and clear your head. Listen to music, meditate, listen to a podcast, or take a few deep breaths. This can help logically assess the situation instead reacting on impulse.
Caffeine is a stimulant that may cause jittery effects that stimulates your “fight or flight” response and may trigger anxiety. The fight or flight response, also known as the acute stress response refers to a physiological reaction that occurs in the presence of something that is terrifying, either mentally or physically. The response is triggered by the release of hormones that prepare your body to either stay and deal with a threat or run away to safety.
Get enough sleep
When stressed, your body needs the proper amount of rest. When sleep deprived, it increases the chances of “anticipatory anxiety”. According to the Journal of Neuroscience, loss of sleep fires up your amygdala and insular context, the regions of your brain responsible for emotional processing as well as your fight or flight response. (2)
Learn what triggers your anxiety
See if you are able to identify what triggers your anxiety by keeping a journal whenever you are feeling stressed or anxious. You might be able to pinpoint a pattern and figure out ways to ease that anxiety in the future.
Maintain a positive attitude
Make an effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Robyn Nohling, FNP, RD, MSN notes to take a step back and give your brain space to decide if a thought is true or not. Remember, not everything you, see, or watch is true. Learn more how to reframe unhealthy thoughts into healthy wise thoughts.
Eating a well-balanced nourishing diet may help minimize triggers of anxiety. Certain foods do have a connection with that can help reduce anxiety. When our bodies are well nourished it can perform at it’s best.
Find forms of exercise that are fun and enjoyable for you. Go for a walk, take an exercise class, or try a new activity. Exercise and other physical activities produce endorphins, which can help improve the ability to sleep, improves mood, and in turn can help reduce stress.
Talk to someone
Tell friends and family you are feeling overwhelmed and let them know how they can help you. It is beneficial to receive professional help from a physician or therapist, as they are trained to help, but also acts as an outside third party who can help. You don’t have to try and conquer anxiety alone.
As a reminder, anxiety affects everyone differently as well as how they cope with anxiety. Try a few of these strategies and see what works best for you.
What is your healthy way to cope with anxiety? Share in the comments below.
Did you enjoy this post? Stay in the know with more nutrition tips, and exclusive promo offers — join our newsletter.
Tanja Jovanovic Ph.D. ConsultingEditor – Ph.D. Abigail PowersLott – Ph.D. VasilikiMichopoulos – Ph.D. JenniferStevens – Ph.D. Sanne vanRooij – Ph.D. SierraCarter – Ph.D. Jessica MaplesKeller – Ph.D. YvonneOgbonmwan – Ph.D. AnaïsStenson
- Shota Kodani, Shingo Soya, Takeshi Sakurai. Excitation of GABAergic neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis triggers immediate transition from non-rapid eye movement sleep to wakefulness in mice. The Journal of Neuroscience, 2017; 0245-17 DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0245-17.2017