Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, and some others quite frequently. The secret to decreasing anxiety levels is to address problems at the onset and not allow situations to grow to the extent of becoming a chronic, ongoing occurrence. Best ways to reduce anxiety is to control stress from all angles and holistically: mentally, emotionally, physically, and physiologically.
Anxiety results when a person is not listened to, is not in control, and does not feel empowered. When something feels wrong, the body responds through fearfulness and anxiety; if this stressful state is not addressed or ignored, it can manifest into full-blown panic attacks. The body is responds with a “fight or flight” mode, where it reacts with pounding heartbeats, sweaty palms, throbbing in the head, feeling he/she is about to have a heart attack.
He/she perceives danger, but in reality the threat is an exaggerated perception, augmented by a person’s negative outlook or thoughts. Chronic stress can take its toll on both a person’s mental and physical health, so must be handled as quickly as possible.
Creating a Relaxing Environment
Relaxation techniques can be as simple as having a glass of wine before dinner; listening to soft music; taking a bath in the evening; having one’s spouse give a back rub, or cuddling a family pet. Other ways to decrease anxiety levels is through journal-writing or reading a book.
Drink a glass of warm milk before bed, as milk contains tryptophan that has a calming effect for sleeping. Getting a good night’s sleep also allows a person to better handle daily stresses and reduce anxiety. On the other hand, avoid stimulants such as coffee or other caffeinated drinks, as this can add to levels of anxiety. Lavender added to one’s bath water can also create a relaxing atmosphere.
Exercise is a constant when it comes to managing stress. It doesn’t matter what kind of exercise one engages, as long as one gets moving into any kind of physical activity, and there is plenty of fresh air. Deep breathing is a form of exercise which energizes both the brain and the heart. It is the easiest activity to engage in when one is feeling somewhat pressed and anxious. Deep breathing can help clear the mind of obsessive thoughts or fears.
It’s always good to talk, whether it is to oneself or someone else. Talking things out minimizes one’s negative responses. This strategy downplays the role given to the state of anxiety, thereby giving a person better control over his/her reactions. The goal is to focus less on fears, and give more attention to the positive aspects in life.
Talking to a close friend or family member provides a support system that can give an anxious person a better perspective. Sharing anxieties with others can lift a burden off one’s shoulders by decreasing anxiety.
One can create an anxiety thermometer, much like a biofeedback machine of the 70s. It is like keeping a diary or a food journal. Recording how one feels at certain times of the day, whether one is calm or anxious can give a great deal of insight on what triggers anxious feelings. By giving a number from 1-10, a person can categorize feelings of calmness with a 1, while moments of agitation can rank with 8 or 9.
The key is to recognize the triggers that send the anxiety meter sky-rocketing. By identifying these triggers, be they things, persons, places, or ideas can help a person deal better with his/her anxieties. Knowing these factors, one can prepare strategies to better handle the situation at hand. By talking through the condition, the problem is nipped before having a chance to get worse.
By looking at the bigger picture, a person can examine the worst-case scenario regarding an anxiety. What is the worst that can happen when facing one’s worst fears? Most of the time, people tend to overestimate the negativity of anxious thoughts. By being more realistic or optimistic about the situation, one feels he/she is on safer ground, and there is little cause for panic or anxiety.
Therefore, the next time one feels an anxious moment coming on; stop, take some deep breaths, count to ten, and start talking oneself out of an undesirable event. If one is sitting, get up and walk around. Chances are, if one is prepared to meet stressful situations head on, the more likelihood these anxieties will decrease within time.