Strategies for managing anxiety

Anxiety is the most common mental health issue in Australia, with millions of us suffering from it.  This may not be due to our environment or circumstances; studies have shown that brain chemicals play a major role in how we deal with stressful or difficult situations, and how anxious we generally can be.

This doesn’t mean that we’re stuck feeling this way. There are many strategies for managing anxiety.  Have a look at this list and see which ones inspire you:

– Exercise.  This always seems to be on health-related lists, doesn’t it?  Well, there’s a reason it’s here: Physical activity essentially releases ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain.  Additionally, as you may have experienced, sometimes just focussing on your physical sensations can take your mind off anxious feelings or thoughts.  Exercise can be anything, from a walk with a friend, to a session or class at a gym.  If you like the idea in theory, but aren’t much for exercising, this list includes a number of fun ways to get motivated.

– Get enough sleep.  Most of us need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep a night. Sleep is crucial to improving your mindset and making you better able to deal with stressful or emotional situations.  There is a catch, though – in addition to our busy modern lifestyles often making it hard to get so much sleep, people who are anxious often have trouble sleeping, to begin with.  If that sounds like you, try some of the other techniques on this list to help reduce your anxiety level, and also consider doing a guided meditation to help you sleep.  You can find a good deal of different ones by searching online.

– Express yourself.  Sometimes it can help to talk about your anxiety – and things that might be causing it – with a trusted friend or loved one.  Or perhaps you find it comforting to ‘vent’ your feelings through writing, art, music, performance….  By facing our anxiety head-on and expressing it, we can get out some of that tension, and also perhaps even explore why it’s there in the first place.

– Find your anxiety triggers.  If you’re not sure what’s making you anxious, it could be helpful to do something like a journal, where, every time you feel anxious, you jot down the date, time, situation, and your surroundings and observations.  Over time, you may notice a pattern – or you could share your journal with a therapist who can help you discover it. Once you’ve found your triggers, you can decide to work through those issues and begin to make concrete changes, or simply change the role they play in your life.

– Change your diet and substance use.  Alcohol and some drugs (illegal and prescription – if the latter is an issue, talk to your doctor about alternatives) have been linked to anxiety issues. Caffeine can also be a trigger.  So try to replace that morning jolt of coffee with decaf, and avoid other foods and drinks with high levels of caffeine.  In general, try to eat healthy, balanced meals that ideally feature certain foods with anxiety-reducing properties.

– Aromatherapy.  Aromatherapy uses essential oils whose scents can have different effects.  Some, like lavender, are known for promoting a feeling of calm.  You can find aroma therapy products like oils, diffusers, and guidebooks, in many shops or online.  You can also look up aromatherapists or spas in your area.  If you’d like to learn more about aromatherapy, this article is good place to start.

– Breathing exercises. Whether you’re feeling anxious, having a panic attack, or want to maintain a calmer state in general, focussing on your breathing can help. There are a number of different types of breathing exercises, and different amounts of time they require, as well, so there is sure to be at least one out there that works for you.  This is an especially helpful list, and you can also do an online search for ‘breathing exercises for anxiety’ to find additional suggestions.

– Practice mindfulness.  Mindfulness, essentially the idea of living in the moment, is another excellent technique for managing anxiety or even panic attacks. There are many articles, books, websites, and other resources related to mindfulness. This webpage has a wonderful, brief explanation, and includes a variety of simple mindfulness exercises, as well.

– Therapy.  Sometimes your anxiety isn’t going to significantly diminish without professional help.  Fortunately, there are a number of different types of therapy that are known to help with anxiety, as well as conditions related to them, like panic disorder and social anxiety disorder.  As a hypnotherapist, I’ve seen clients come through our sessions very much improved. We’ve worked through issues that may have been causing or increasing their anxiety, and they leave our time together knowing that life will always have its challenges, but they are now able to face them.

This list is not exhaustive, so if you haven’t found anything that seems like it would work for you, keep looking!

Whatever method or methods you choose, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to suffer.  It may not happen overnight, but stick with one, or some, or even all of these techniques, and you’re likely to find yourself experiencing that persistent, stressful feeling a lot less.

If you’d like to work with me, you can book a session online right here. Id be really happy to be a part of your wellness journey.