Ten Ways to Reduce Anxiety
We live in a society that’s always on the go, and this constant activity can often lead to stress and anxiety. When anxiety creeps up, we may feel overwhelmed, stuck, or out of control. We may get distracted, hyperfocus or avoid responsibilities. While severe anxiety should be addressed with a therapist or doctor, there are some lifestyle changes you can make to alleviate symptoms.
1. Make lists
Chances are if you are suffering from anxiety, your mind is full of tasks you need to remember or want to accomplish. A simple way to combat these racing thoughts is to write them down. If you want to be strategic, consider breaking up the thoughts into columns: tasks to accomplish this week, reminders, and miscellaneous thoughts or worries. While this allows you to schedule and prioritize appropriately, it can also prevent the anxiety that comes with avoiding certain tasks. By organizing your upcoming tasks on paper, you free up space in your mind while assuaging the worry that you will forget something.
2. Create a routine
One of the main symptoms of anxiety is the feeling of chaos and a loss of control. One way to combat this is to create a daily routine. Jodi Lobozzo Aman, a clinical psychologist, explains that having a routine helps steady the mind and allows individuals to feel in control. We suggest starting simple! Try setting a morning schedule that consists of calming activities such as drinking tea, reciting a mantra, or journaling. We suggest you choose activities that promote a sense of peace and well-being.
3. Prioritize sleep
Sleep debt, or the accumulation of not getting enough sleep, is a major contributor to stress and anxiety. Sleep allows your body to repair, refuel, and relax, so without a healthy amount, tension and stress start to build up. To encourage getting a healthy amount of sleep, doctors recommend going to bed and waking up around the same time every day. If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, try a relaxing activity one hour prior to bed, such as journaling or reading (no phones or screens!). You could also try natural remedies to promote sleep, such as practicing aromatherapy with lavender oil or using a white noise machine.
By now, you’ve probably seen hundreds of articles about the benefits of meditation and may even roll your eyes at them, but the results could drastically alter how calm you stay throughout the day. We know keeping a consistent meditation practice isn’t easy (cue the itchy leg or the pinging phone or the loud neighbors), but the benefits are worth the time it takes to get into the habit.
Studies have shown that meditation can decrease anxiety, improve sleep, facilitate peace and happiness, and improve the immune system. For beginners, it’s recommended to meditate at the same time every day and to keep your practice to 5-10 minute sessions. Set an intention for what you want to get out of your daily meditation, get into a comfortable position, and focus on your breath. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your inhales and exhales. Meditation is hard, so don’t be frustrated or discouraged if you can’t focus or sit still. Be gentle with yourself and stick with it! With practice, meditation becomes natural and habitual, allowing the calming effects to sink into your daily life. Check out our Loving Kindness Meditation to start your meditation journey.
5. Do yoga
As an organization that offers yoga as part of eating disorder treatment, we’re no stranger to the benefits of the practice. From reducing insomnia to improving energy and strength, yoga can help calm anxiety and promote mindfulness. Due to a recent boom in the practice, yogis can now choose between various formats of yoga to engage in. There is vinyasa yoga (focused on breath/body movement), yin yoga (focused on gentle stretching), and sound baths (where participants lay in savasana as singing bowls are played). If you need a more accessible yoga option, try practicing at home. All you need is a comfortable space to breathe, move, and stretch. If you aren’t sure what postures to do, check out our yoga videos on our YouTube channel.
6. Start a gratitude journal
Starting a gratitude journal is a simple way to experience stress relief and practice mindfulness. While your gratitude journal can take any form you please, many people prefer to reflect daily before going to bed. This journal is about celebrating the little things, so write down what you were grateful for during the day or what made you happy. Some examples are a cuddle with your pet, a beautiful sight, or a friendly conversation.
7. Try acupressure rings
Acupressure rings are another way to alleviate anxiety. By exerting pressure on specific points of the body, acupressure rings can relieve tension and promote relaxation. If you find yourself experiencing mental distraction or fatigue in your fingers, try rolling one of these rings up and down your fingers. Benefits include boosting your energy, enhancing your concentration, and improving your overall well-being.
8. Reduce your caffeine intake
Caffeine can be a major contributor to anxiety, as it increases stress hormones and your heart rate, making it harder to sleep later in the day. It can also cause restlessness, agitation, dizziness, nausea, and other gastrointestinal problems, all symptoms experienced during times of severe anxiety or panic. If you suffer from anxiety, doctors typically recommend reducing caffeine intake. Try swapping your morning coffee for green tea or start drinking decaf.
9. Reach out to friends
Studies have shown that having a solid support system may increase quality of life and reduce anxiety. When you are choosing a support system to aid in your eating disorder recovery, make sure those friends understand and support your recovery. By having a group to lean on in times of anxiety, individuals can reduce stress and feelings of isolation. While having a strong network is great, we also know that creating it can be challenging. If you aren’t sure where to start, consider a virtual support group.
10. Seek professional help
If anxiety, depression, eating disorder symptoms, or other mental health concerns are not improving with home remedies or get worse with time, reach out to a professional. Anxiety and eating disorders are severe clinical diagnoses that can be remedied with the proper professional treatment. Early intervention for eating disorders and anxiety is crucial in making recovery faster and more manageable.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder, reach out to the specialists at The Emily Program at 888-364-5977 to get started on a treatment plan today.