8 ways to help reduce anxiety

It’s completely normal to feel a little worried or anxious now and again. We’re here to help, so try these tips the next time those feelings strike…

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Feeling anxious is a part of life, and it’s completely normal. After all, we are sometimes faced with scary situations and difficult times. The symptoms of anxiety are both physical (a faster heartbeat or loss of appetite, for example) and mental (feeling tearful or unable to relax) and can lead to difficulties in other areas of your life.

However, if you’re able to recognise anxiety when it strikes, and learn to deal with the symptoms you experience, it can make it much easier to deal with. However, if you’re experiencing anxiety to the point where it’s taking over your life, or stopping you from living it, then speak to your GP for more advice.

1. Talk it out

A problem shared is a problem halved, so the saying goes. And there’s definitely some truth in it because talking about your worries can certainly help to ease them. It could be that discussing them lets you arrive at a solution or realisation to help you deal with them, but even if it doesn’t just the act of feeling understood can help.

If you don’t have a friend or family member you can call, you can phone the Samaritans on 116 123, or email them on jo@samaritans.org.

2. Try breathing exercises

One of the easiest ways to help reduce anxiety is by taking deep breaths, because it activates the body’s relaxation response. In addition, by taking time out to stop and focus on your breath, you’re distracting your mind from whatever is making you feel anxious.

Try the NHS breathing exercise for stress or use an app like Headspace or Calm.

3. Move your body

Exercise does the double whammy – not only does it help lower the body’s stress hormones, it also releases the feelgood hormones. Taking regular exercise will keep your mind in good shape, as well as your body, which will make it easier to handle stressful situations.

Find something you like doing, and try to do it regularly. There are tons of exercise classes to try online, from aerobics to Zumba, so you can pick and choose before you commit to something.

4. Sort your sleep

Being short on sleep can make everything harder, and you’re much less likely to feel anxious if you’re well rested and ready for the day. However, it can be a vicious cycle – sleep deprivation heightens your anxiety, yet you find it hard to sleep because your worries are keeping you up at night.

Check out our 8 tips to help you have an amazing sleep.

5. Eat regular meals

When you’re hungry or dehydrated, you’re more likely to feel anxious in response to a situation which wouldn’t bother you so much when you’re properly fed and watered. It’s also important that you consume the right foods and drinks.

Aim to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day, and avoid caffeine and alcohol as any impact they might have in terms of relieving anxiety is likely to be short-lived, and they can leave you feeling more anxious in the long run. Check out the NHS advice on eating a balanced diet.

6. Consider peer support

There are different types of support groups, but essentially peer support is when people use their own experiences to help each other. Some people prefer this to talking to friends or family, because relationships don’t get in the way. The mental health charity mind can help you find online support.

7. Use your senses

Certain scents can have a calming impact on the body, so lighting a scented candle or burning some essential oils can both be good ways to reduce anxiety. Lavender is ideal, or you could also try rose, bergamot or vetiver.

8. Declutter your space

A clearer home can help give you a clearer mind too, as a messy space can rack up your stress levels. In fact, the very act of tidying up and clearing away clutter can be therapeutic, as it gives you something to distract your mind from the anxiety you’re feeling.

What are your top tips for easing anxiety?
Let us know in the comments below!