6 ways to tackle anxiety
Many of us will experience anxiety at some point in our lives, whether it’s ahead of a high-stakes work meeting, or a drastic or unsettling life change.
Anxiety is usually your body’s natural response to stress. But, no matter the reason it’s occurring, feeling anxious isn’t particularly pleasant, especially when symptoms regularly come knocking on your door. According to the NHS, anxiety may present itself in a number of ways that include (but are not limited to):
- Feeling restless or worried
- Having difficulty concentrating
- Struggling to sleep
- Feeling dizzy
- Heart palpitations
So, what can you do when anxiety is having an affect on your daily life? Here, we share helpful and research-backed strategies to keep in your arsenal for whenever you’re feeling anxious.
The video below is kindly provided by Cool Relationships, an animation produced by Quint Boa, with words by James Earl.
Note: The following tips are not intended as replacements for mental health treatments or interventions, but may help to alleviate symptoms of anxiety affecting your day to day. You should always speak to a healthcare professional if you are concerned about your mental health.
6 simple ways to tackle anxiety
Exercise is one of the best ways to deal with feelings of anxiety.
You don’t need to sign up for an expensive, top-of-the-range gym membership either, as any kind of movement can help to combat feelings of stress or worry. Get outside for a brisk jog around your local park, turn on a free online YouTube yoga class or dust off your dumbbells for a quick strength training session.
Why? First of all, exercise can help to divert your attention away from what may be making you anxious. It can also help to relieve any physical symptoms, like muscle tension, and it also encourages your brain to release serotonin, which can lift your mood.
If you’re new to exercise, read our guide on getting started as a beginner here.
Most pet owners are already acutely aware of the joys their four-legged family members bring. But did you know that animals can also help with bouts of anxiety?
Research suggests that snuggling or petting our furry friends may help our mental health by reducing levels of anxiety and stress. And playing with our pets can also help to raise levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are hormones that calm and relax us.
Don’t worry if you don’t have the pleasure of owning a pet. One academic study by the University of Leeds found that even just watching videos of cute animals can even help to reduce feelings of stress by up to 50%.
Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
While a good cup of coffee or glass of wine is one of life’s pleasures, caffeine and alcohol can actually exacerbate symptoms of anxiety.
That’s because caffeine can disrupt your sleep and also makes your heart beat faster, which in turn often makes you more anxious than normal.
And, while an alcoholic tipple may initially make you feel calmer, you may start to feel even more anxious as the effects begin to wear off as your body processes the alcohol.
The takeaway? If you’re experiencing anxiety regularly, it’s worth cutting down on any cups of joe or boozy beverages that you consume often.
Breathe it out
Breathing exercises can be a great coping strategy to work through anything that is worrying you by helping you to feel more grounded and calm.
When we are stressed out, our breathing can often become shallow. But, by shifting our focus to breathing slower and more deeply, we can invite feelings of calm and relaxation back into our bodies as you are signalling to your nervous system to calm down.
One simple exercise to try is to have a longer exhale than your inhale. For example, inhale slowly for a count of three, and then exhale slowly for a count of four.
Follow our simple breathing exercises the next time you’re experiencing anxiety.
Shake it off
Some experts believe that shaking therapy can help to relieve feelings of stress in the body.
One type of shaking therapy, known as qigong shaking, is an ancient – and fun – method of relieving any stress.
The holistic therapy, which does what it says on the tin, can help to release any tension you may be feeling in your body as a result of anxiety, and also can be combined with deep breathing.
You can learn more about the practice here.
Put pen to paper
Many experts suggest journalling as a way to tackle anxiety. Putting pen to paper can help you to express what may be making you feel anxious that you may not otherwise be able to put into words.
Plus, looking back at what you scribbled down in your journal entries can also help you to identify triggers of your anxiety. It can also help you to rationalise your anxious thoughts.
Our favourite soothing products
In addition to the above strategies, we also keep the below products on hand to soothe any feelings of anxiety:
Many people love sleeping or relaxing with weighted blankets to help them feel grounded. They work by using ‘pressure therapy’, which can feel like you are being hugged or held. We love the Aeyla weighted blanket, for feelings of tranquility and calm. Use LIZLOVES to save 30% off your order.
Can’t stop worrying at night? Life Armour’s Drops of Slumber are a bedside table essential. They help to ease your mind for a restful night, leaving you feeling fresh the next morning. Use LIZLOVES for 15% off next time you shop.
Adding a few drops of essential oils to bath blends or diffusers around your home can help to promote feelings of calm. Choose ones with relaxing properties, such as lavender, rose and chamomile. We love Neal’s Yard for its quality essential oils – make sure to use LIZLOVES for 15% off when checking out.
If you are struggling with your mental health in any way, please speak to your GP or a healthcare professional, or visit Mind.