Many of us experience periods of heightened stress and anxiety. They can be caused by work, relationships, global events, or sometimes you may not even realize what the trigger is. In any case, we can all probably agree that feeling tense and anxious can sometimes be difficult to manage. If you feel like it’s impacting your daily life, it may be time to implement some healthy habits to help reduce anxiety.
What causes anxiety?
At the moment it is not fully understood what exactly causes anxiety. However, there are certain factors that might contribute to or trigger anxiety, one of these being stress. This stress can be caused by work, financial problems, the death of a relative, or other stressful life situations. Common symptoms include feelings of dread, panic, or nervousness, persistent worry, trouble concentrating, and problems sleeping.
Although it is advisable to seek long-term solutions such as therapy or counseling, most people can benefit from making lifestyle changes to help manage their anxiety.
Read on for our suggestions for 8 healthy daily habits to help do just that!
Not only does doing regular exercise benefit our bodies, but it comes with a host of benefits for our mental health too. It can help to relieve stress, one of the factors that may contribute to anxiety. Sticking to a regular exercise routine can help to improve your mood in the long-term. Some studies suggest that those who lead more active lifestyles are less likely to experience symptoms of anxiety than people who don’t engage in any exercise at all.
The key is to find a physical activity that you genuinely enjoy. This can be anything from running to yoga, cardio kickboxing to Pilates. Even going on a hike once or twice a week can already have a positive impact. Plus, it comes with the added benefit of spending time outdoors!
Getting an insufficient amount of quality sleep can negatively impact our health in many ways. Because it is so important for both our physical and mental wellbeing, making sleep a priority is a key step in coping with feelings of stress. You can help improve your sleeping habits by:
- Heading to bed when you’re tired
- Limiting your screentime before bed
- Going to sleep around the same time each night
- Sleeping in a cool, dark room
- Reducing your caffeine intake (caffeine can also increase feelings of nervousness)
Caffeine may also cause some people to feel nervous or restless which can contribute to feelings of anxiety. If you’re someone who is particularly sensitive to caffeine, switching to green or herbal tea might help you feel calmer. Some people also find it helpful to try a natural supplement, for example, melatonin or CBD to help promote better sleep. Some people also take CBD to promote feelings of calm and relaxation which may help with stress management. Read more about how stress can impact your sleep here.
Maintain A Healthy Diet
Sticking to healthy eating habits can positively impact your general wellbeing, including your mood. A diet rich in whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and complex carbohydrates comes with many health benefits. Healthy eating habits can help to manage your stress, give your body more energy, and impact your sleep. It may also be a good idea to limit your intake of added sugars, processed foods, and alcohol.
Daily meditation can help some people with managing anxiety. Meditation may help us to be present in the moment which may be especially beneficial for those who worry frequently about the future. The best part? Five minutes a day is enough! Dedicating even five minutes to meditation on a daily basis may already make a big impact. The most basic technique is to focus on your breathing to calm the mind. If you’re a total newbie you can also find plenty of guided meditations and helpful tips online.
Keeping a journal can help provide an outlet for a chaotic mind. If you sometimes feel like your head is a jumble of racing thoughts and worries, journaling may be just the thing for you. It helps us keep track of our thoughts which can help shed light on anxiety triggers and stress factors present in our lives. It can also be a good opportunity to practice gratitude. Writing down what is good in your life is an active way of focusing on the positive, which can help to improve your mood.
Nowadays we’re so surrounded by technology that it can take a conscious effort to reduce our screentime. At times of increased anxiety, it might be helpful to limit the time you spend on your phone, tablet, or computer. Especially just before going to sleep. Taking a short break from social media can also be beneficial, as overusing it may trigger symptoms of anxiety in some people. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely cut yourself off from every social media outlet. Even setting a time limit on hours spent per day can help to make your social media habit a healthier one.
Although cleaning may sound like the last thing you want to do, having excess clutter in your homes might increase feelings of stress and anxiety. Rather than viewing the activity as yet another item on your to-do list, try to see it as something that you are doing for yourself. For some, it might even be meditative!
Feelings of anxiety can often come with negative thoughts, most of which we may target towards ourselves. Dedicating some space for “me” time is one way to practice self-care. Treat yourself by doing something that you enjoy. Cook food that you love to eat. Go for a walk while listening to your favorite podcast. Buy yourself flowers if it helps to perk up your mood. Even doing something small for yourself can be a step towards improving your emotional wellbeing.
Although for some, anxiety may never go away entirely, these are just some strategies that you can try to help ease its impact on your life. And you don't have to do them all at once, maybe just start with one or two and see how it goes. Pay attention to how they make you feel, it may take some time for them to seem effective. Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy to cope with stress or feelings of anxiety, the most important thing is to listen to what works best for you.
All the best,