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10 Things to Do If You’re Feeling Anxious
Have you ever felt anxious? If you’re a human, the chances are that the answer is yes. Even if you don’t suffer from a full-blown anxiety disorder, you may still experience the discomfort that comes with feeling anxious.
Mental health professionals should be the ones to treat anxiety disorders with therapy, medication, or a mix of both. However, if you find yourself feeling anxious from time to time, don’t let your first reaction be to pop a pill. Here are some simple, scientifically-proven, ways to calm yourself down:
1. Get moving
Exercise is one of the best ways to ease anxiety. Exercise acts as a natural mood booster because it increases your blood flow and therefore improves your brain’s stress response. Studies show that aerobic workouts like jogging, swimming, cycling, or dancing are best. So get your groove on and feel calmer!
2. Breathe deeply
You’ve probably heard this one before, but that’s because it’s true! Slow, deep, even breaths for 20-30 minutes increase the oxygen in your brain, and stimulates your nervous system – ironically making you less nervous!
3. Get warm
Feelings of warmth are comforting; this may explain why people flock to the beach or hot tubs to relax. The Journal of Psychopharmacology published a review that links warm sensations to the production of serotonin in our brains. Serotonin helps regulate your moods. So the next time you’re feeling anxious, try soaking your feet in a warm tub of water or visiting a sauna.
4. Visit Mother Nature
Surrounding yourself with nature can help reduce your anxiety. Standford University interviewed 60 people after walking for 50 minutes in an urban or rural area. The researchers found that the people who walked in rural areas reported feeling less anxious than those who walked in the city. There are related studies that show a link between time spent in green spaces and a decrease in mental illnesses.
5. Get zen
Meditation can mellow your mood. Concentrating on your breathing, bodily sensations, thoughts, and surroundings, without forming opinions about them can help you ignore negative emotions.
6. Drink tea
Most specifically, drink chamomile tea! Chamomile is recognizable for its sedative properties. It contains apigenin – which is also found in Xanax and Valium (2 anti-anxiety meds). While there is still some research to be done, there is some evidence to support that higher doses of chamomile over longer periods of time will reduce anxiety. If you’re not a fan of chamomile, green tea may have a similar calming effect.
7. Eat fish
Omega-3 fatty acids tote tons of amazing health benefits, but luckily for you, they can also help reduce anxiety. Just remember, omega-3 supplements often don’t usually bear all the health benefits they promise. If you really want omega-3’s to work for you, you should go straight to the source and enjoy some fatty fishes like Salmon, rainbow trout, and canned sardines.
8. Excite yourself
If you’re nervous about a job interview, or a public speech you have to make: GET EXCITED! Literally tell yourself “I’m excited!”. A study done by the American Psychological Association showed that people perform better if they get excited before an anxiety-inducing task rather than trying to stay calm. This might be because excitement moves your brain from negative space into a positive one.
9. Think about others
If you find yourself frequently being anxious, try volunteering. Choosing to be kind to other people helps avoid build up of negative feelings towards social interactions.
10. Talk about it
There is no shame in anxiety, so there is no reason you should hide it and suffer alone. If you find that you are struggling to manage your anxiety on your own, perhaps you should seek out professional help. A therapist can work with you to come up with a treatment plan specifically for you, or help you manage your symptoms by identifying your triggers.