Feeling anxious or worried is something everyone experiences and feels. It is absolutely okay to feel anxious. Most of us feel symptoms of anxiety when we are about to take a test, interview for our dream job or if we have to perform in some way in front of others. Feeling anxiety is not always negative as everyone has an optimal level of anxiety, which is needed for the ideal learning environment. Anxiety symptoms become problematic when they are impacting our daily lives in a negative way. When we find ourselves using “What If” statements when thinking about a situation, when we have trouble sleeping at night because we cannot turn off our mind or when we feel keyed up or stressed out. During these times, we may need to utilize coping strategies to reduce these excessive anxious symptoms and feelings.
Here are 5 ways to reduce anxiety symptoms:
1. Journal: some people find it useful to write down their worries and concerns. You do not have to write in paragraph form or even sentences. You can simply write a list of your concerns/worries. It also helps to set aside some time to worry, think of it as a time out for worrying. The idea is, if you have a set time to worry, you can write down your concerns and worry about them at a scheduled time and not throughout the day and at night while trying to work and/or fall asleep.
2. Breathing: when some people feel anxiety, their heart rate increases and other people hold their breath. When you realize you are feeling anxiety/stress symptoms such as What If thinking, excessive worry or a change in your breathing, you can utilize deep relaxed diaphragm breathing, which can assist with putting your body into a more relaxed state. Sometimes doing deep breathing for a count of 30 can make a difference. Trying yoga and/or meditation can help with learning how to regulate your breathing and also assists in reducing anxiety and stress symptoms.
3. Exercise: not only is exercise good for your body, it is also great for your mind. Exercising such as running, swimming or yoga assists with reducing anxiety and stress. In addition, regular exercise increases mood, overall wellbeing and assists with sleep. If you are having trouble with beginning an exercise program, find something you love to do such as tennis, biking, whatever it is, find an exercise buddy and start. If you are having trouble finding time to exercise, schedule it. Start by walking once or twice per week, to get your body moving. Please speak with your physician before starting an exercise program.
4. Caffeine: decreasing your caffeine intake can help reduce anxiety. Caffeine can increase anxiety symptoms and feelings of stress. It can also interfere with your sleep. If you are consuming caffeine and find you are experiencing anxiety symptoms, notice the next time you have a caffeinated beverage if you feel calmer or more keyed up and stressed out. Try decreasing the amount of caffeine you consume. You can try decaffeinated products or having less caffeine. In addition, decreasing and/or eliminating caffeine from your diet will also assist with sleep issues such as feeling exhausted and alert at the same time as well as difficulty with falling asleep.
5. Self-care: increasing self-care, things that you do, just for you, will help reduce symptoms of anxiety. When we are anxious and stressed, the first thing we usually cut out are the things we do to feel grounded. We remove these from our routine due to lack of time, a sick loved one or a big meeting, etc. When these things are happening and our anxiety is increasing, this is when we need to do self-care and take care of ourselves the most. If you are not taking care of yourself, you will not be able to do the best job you can when you take of others. I am not saying this is an easy thing to do, but if you take care of yourself, you will have more to give to your family, friends and career.
Anxiety is something everyone feels, what is different is the level of anxiety which is individual to each of us as well as how we cope with these anxious feelings and symptoms. To find out more information regarding symptoms of anxiety, please see my blog on the signs and symptoms of anxiety at http://www.droshea.com/blog/top-5-signs-you-may-have-anxiety. In addition, there are some great apps that you can download for your phone or iPad to help with relaxation and breathing which can decrease the symptoms of anxiety and stress.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for diagnosis, treatment or therapy. Please consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program.
Dr. Deb is a successful Psychologist who practices in New York City. She is an Anxiety Specialist who works with adolescents and adults providing both individual and couples counseling.