We are all human and inevitably worry, but what do we do when our worry grows into a feeling that could be damaging to our health and happiness?
Stop. Take a deep breath and exhale. Research shows there are simple anxiety-reducing habits that can improve emotional and physical wellbeing. You may be able to cure yourself, not with medication, but by practicing positive lifestyle changes.
By definition, anxiety is the feeling of uneasiness over an upcoming event. We sometimes try to anticipate the future with negative predictions that, in turn, make us feel powerless and helpless. In day-to-day life, anxiety’s physical manifestation and emotional cues can be seen in a racing heartbeat, trouble focusing on tasks at work or at home, problems sleeping, dizziness, nail biting, negative and obsessive thoughts, and a short emotional fuse.
Depression and anxiety among hispanics and latinos is not uncommon. In a 2014 study, researchers found that 27% of the Hispanic population suffer from symptoms of anxiety and depression, and only 5% of the study sample took low usage of antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications.
It is completely normal to experience ups and downs, but if you find yourself experiencing anxiety attacks frequently, being mindful of the 7 strategies below can help you to cope.
Seven lifestyle strategies to help manage symptoms of anxiety
- Accept that you cannot control everything- and laugh about it: First off, put your anxiety in perspective: is throwing a tantrum going to help magically charge your phone that you forgot to plug in the night before? Probably not. And is that really what’s bothering you? Probably not. And that’s okay. Instead of aiming for perfection, which isn’t possible, be proud of however close you get, and try to laugh off your freak-outs.
- Do something that keeps you in the moment, like exercising: Do you have an activity or something you like to do that keeps you in the moment? Going for a walk, practicing yoga, listening to music, playing a game of chess, doodling, going for a run, meditating, or getting a quick 10 minute back massage can go a long way. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America notes exercise is proven to be very effective at maintaining mental fitness and combating anxiety.
- What and when you eat is important: Skipping meals is way too common these days. Skipping meals causes a drop in the body’s blood sugar levels. If prolonged, this drop may lead to increased feelings of anxiety and irritability. It’s also important not eat junk that will put you right back into a funk. Eggs, berries, green tea and chamomile tea have been shown to curb anxiety.
- Limit alcohol and caffeine consumption. You may often use alcohol or caffeine to reduce anxiety because it seemingly dulls anxious feelings, but in reality it makes anxiety worse because it replaces your mind’s ability to cope with stress. Both of these substances amplify anxious feelings you may be experiencing, further aggravating your anxiety and possibly triggering a panic attack.
- Get enough rest. When stressed, your body needs additional sleep and rest. If you are an adult, aim for 7.5- 9 hours a night. Don’t have time for 9 hours a night? 20 minute power naps can be great. Meditation can also be restorative. Most adults have had some trouble sleeping because they feel worried or nervous, but some do experience insomnia due to poor lifestyle habits.
- Talk to someone…or something! Instead of throwing something over the remote being lost in the couch, let friends and family know you’re feeling overwhelmed. Live alone? Just processing out loud can help put a problem in perspective. Pets also make great listeners too- and for the most part- they never voice judgement!
- There is no ‘perfect’ time to beat anxiety, just now: It’s important to acknowledge your anxiety won’t go away if you are waiting for the ‘perfect’ time to overcome it. You do not need to feel especially attractive, healthy, positive, energetic, or confident in any other way to begin. You can’t simply wait for something or someone else to make things better. Beating anxiety comes through building a positive routine and letting go of old destructive habits. The time is now!
If you try these tips, but still feel like you are unable to avoid destructive habits, please seek out a medical professional to talk to and discuss possible plans of action.