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Published on January 19, 2017

12 Ways to Curb Anxiety

AnxietyAnxiety is normal human sensation. It is what helped our ancestors survive the pitfalls of the wilderness. 

Anxiety is defined as experiencing worry or nervousness about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome. It is a feeling experienced by most people at some point in their lives. Anxiety can be triggered by a very personal issue, such as the illness of a loved one or an event of global proportions, such as a refugee crisis.

Some of the symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Feeling restless
  • Having a feeling of impending danger
  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Weakness or feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating on anything except the current worry
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach or bowel problems

What can we do about anxiety we may be feeling? There are many techniques to help manage stress and relax. Here are 12 ways you can reduce your anxiety almost immediately:

  1. Turn off the constant feed of information. Take a social media sabbatical. Studies have shown that social media directly contributes to social anxiety.
  2. Monitor your television viewing habits. Are you watching shows that are also contributing to your anxiety such as 24-hour news stations? Try watching something else, or better yet, nothing at all. Instead, listen to music, read an inspirational book or practice a hobby.
  3. Eat nutritious meals. Also, don’t skip meals and keep healthful snacks on hand. Hunger and poor diet contributes to feeling anxious.
  4. Sleep. Sleeping on a regular schedule for at least seven to eight hours a night will do wonders for your outlook when you are awake.
  5. Regular exercise will help rid your body of that anxious energy and help you get more restful sleep.
  6. Try deep (diaphragmatic) breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose for five seconds and exhale through your mouth.
  7. Practice acceptance and gratitude. When anxiety hits, accept that there are things out of your control that shouldn’t be of immediate concern.
  8. Seek out humor. When anxiety strikes, watch a funny video, read jokes or call a friend who makes you laugh. Laughter is healing for our bodies and releases endorphins that are calming.
  9. Stay positive. Take the effort to replace negative thoughts with positive ones. Try to see a stressful situation in a positive light. Try to come up with solutions rather than dwelling on the problem.
  10. What triggers your anxiety? Keep a journal and make note of anxious moments and the events surrounding them. This will help you identify triggers you can avoid or even eliminate.
  11. Talk to someone. Let a trusted friend, family member or even trained professional know that you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Verbalize what you are feeling and why.
  12. Volunteer. If your anxiety is triggered by a crisis on a large scale, become an advocate and work to resolve the problem that is causing you unease.

    Anxiety is often unwelcome and can become overwhelming. If not kept in check, it can become a disorder that could require medical treatment. However, if you take the time to care for yourself and avoid the triggers that make you anxious, you will be able to find moments of relaxation and clarity that make your life much more enjoyable.

    About the Author

    Kitty Stafford, RN, BSN, MHA, BC is nursing director for adult services for Cone Health Behavioral Health Services