7 ways to banish anxiety today
Are you back at work this January with an ever-mounting workload and a heavy feeling of dread hanging over you? Hey, you're not alone. But there's a difference between everyday stress that's manageable and uncontrollable anxiety, although the two can be linked. Anxiety is defined as 'apprehension over an upcoming event.' We spend too much time worrying about the future, and about things that may never happen, when in actual fact events usually go far more smoothly than we had anticipated.
Anxiety can leave you feeling exhausted and unable to sleep or concentrate - it can also impact your work and personal life. It's our body's response to perceived danger - you're probably not actually in any danger, so it can be the tiniest of things that often push you into an anxious state, such as losing your keys, your laptop breaking or even spilling coffee on your work shirt. The good news is that it's easy to make some changes to your day to reduce mild anxiety. If your symptoms are more serious, we recommend making an appointment to see your GP. These 7 tips will help you to banish anxiety and leave you feeling calmer.
#1. Get a good night's sleep
Lack of sleep can leave you feeling worn out, but it can also increase feelings of stress and anxiety. It's a bit of a never-ending circle - lack of sleep can fuel anxiety, whilst feeling anxious can make it harder to sleep. If you've had a particularly stressful day at work, or are battling anxious thoughts, try to go to bed earlier than usual, maybe with a good book. A few nights of undisturbed sleep should help to reduce feelings of anxiety and can help your body to cope with everyday stress.
#2. Get some playtime
Ok, so it might be a while since you got a break for playtime - even if you do get a 15 minute coffee break mid-morning - but you can schedule your own playtime and get in touch with your inner child, whilst leaving stress on the backburner. Pets and children have an ability to forget about stress and just have fun, so why not babysit for an afternoon, take your dog for a walk or spend some time playing with your cat to enjoy a stress-free break. Children and animals are great examples of how to let go of anxiety and just enjoy life.
#3. Get some peace and quiet
If you live in a busy city, you're probably constantly surrounded by noise, and too much noise can make us feel more stressed (1). They say 'silence is golden' for a reason, and it really is - we need it to survive! Make time for peace and quiet in your day - even if it is just for five or ten minutes. Switch off your computer and TV, put your phone on silent and just enjoy it. Try meditating or breathing exercises, if you like.
#4. Get ahead with planning
Planning ahead and being more organised is a technique often favoured by control freaks, but it can really help to quieten anxious thoughts and worries. Prepare things for the next day, such as packing your gym bag, looking out your running shoes, leaving clothes out or making a packed lunch the night before, and make a to-do list so you know exactly what you need to do, and when. This helps to increase productivity and can prevent anxious feelings before they surface to ruin your mood.
#5. Try a relaxing scent
Calming scents have a great ability to not only reduce stress and anxiety but also to brighten your mood. Essential oils such as chamomile and basil are proven to relieve tension (2) and can also help to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety. Essential oils can be used in an oil burner, or a few drops can be diluted in your bath or with a carrier oil and massaged onto your wrists and temples. You'll find that these two essential oils also help boost mental clarity.
If you're feeling down about work, your social life or the breakup of a relationship, it's easy to let your sad feelings overwhelm you, which isn't good news for your emotional or physical health. It's important to take time out to smile and laugh - laughter can help you to feel less anxious and depressed. Try some funny animal videos on YouTube or clips of your favourite stand-up comedian for an instant mood boost.
#7. Eat a well-balanced diet
Anxiety can leave you craving certain foods or it can reduce or increase your appetite, so it's essential to support your body with the right foods to prevent and reduce anxiety. Eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh produce can help, but ensure you include plenty of foods rich in omega-3, such as oily fish, and vitamin B. Researchers have linked vitamin B to improved mental health (3). Eating whole-grain carbs can also help to regulate the brain's levels of serotonin, which helps us to feel calm and happy. Avoid processed or sugary foods; although you may be craving them, they could actually make you feel more anxious.
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