If you experience symptoms of anxiety and worry that you might have an anxiety disorder, do not hesitate to speak to your doctor or to a therapist. Treatment with therapy, medication, or a combination of both can greatly reduce or completely eliminate your anxiety symptoms and improve the quality of your life.
You can also make lifestyle changes and adopt healthy habits to help ease your anxiety symptoms:
Exercise. Add regular physical activity to your life - it's one of the best things you can do to reduce anxiety symptoms and to facilitate healing. Exercise boosts mood, improves sleep, reduces tension, and calms stress. It also provides a time of mindless distraction away from your worries and fears. And when you exercise regularly, you have more energy, and that energy can help in so many ways, including being able to focus on your treatment goals. Yoga in particular has been linked to a reduction in anxiety symptoms.
Eat - and drink - well. No one food or drink will make anxiety disappear. But your mood and energy will be best supported by a balanced diet, steady meal-and-snack times, and awareness of any food sensitivities. Stay properly hydrated, and minimize your intake of caffeine and alcohol, both of which can trigger anxiety-like sensations in the body. Click here to learn more about foods that can help to ease your anxiety symptoms.
Get ample sleep. When you are stressed and anxious, your body will naturally require more sleep and rest. But anxiety and sleep make unhappy bedfellows. On the one hand, anxiety can keep you up at night and steal precious hours of rest. And on the other hand, sleep deprivation can contribute to worsening the symptoms of anxiety. Those with chronic insomnia are at an even higher risk.
If you have trouble sleeping, do what you can to improve your sleep habits - sometimes called "sleep hygiene." Set up and stick to a relaxing bedtime routine, and make your bedroom as sleep-friendly as possible. Avoid anything too stimulating right before bed, like television, computers, caffeine, and nicotine.
Cultivate calm. Like the body, a mind overrun with anxiety needs extra rest. Beyond sleep, try active waking relaxation techniques, like meditation, yoga, and tai chi to help you focus on one task at a time and close out the distracting anxieties that usually crowd your thoughts. Other less-structured activities may also provide peace of mind, like sitting with your pet, reading a book, listening to music, or taking a leisurely stroll.
Regain your balance. Life with an anxiety disorder can easily become off-kilter, thrown askew by misplaced priorities, nagging fears, and too much time spent thinking about unconstructive worries. To get a little perspective and balance back into your life, take a day off if you can - or better yet, take a vacation or a sabbatical - and spend time counting your blessings and reconnecting to what really matters to you.
Let it out. Anxiety can become too much to bear, and bottling it up doesn't help. Talk to a friend who is a good, patient listener and vent your frustrations. Cry if you need to. Journalling or blogging about your anxieties may also help. Laughter has been known to ease tension, too. Try to find the humor in difficult situations and seek out the things that make you laugh, giggle, or at least crack an amused smile.