Living with anxiety can be incredibly difficult. It’s important that you don’t allow yourself to live with the symptoms forever. You need to make smart decisions and commit to long-term treatment. The following ten strategies can help you begin to lessen your anxiety today.
1. Control Your Breathing
Severe anxiety symptoms are often linked to poor breathing habits. Many people with anxiety have poor breathing habits that contribute to anxiety and many of the most upsetting symptoms.
Controlling your breathing is a solution – and it’s not what you think. Even if you feel you can’t take a deep breath, you actually need to slow down and reduce your breathing, not speed it up or try to take deeper breaths. Take more controlled, slower breaths, using the following technique:
- Breathe in slowly and gently through your nose for about 5 to 7 seconds.
- Hold for about three or four seconds.
- Breathe out slowly and gently through pursed lips like you’re whistling for about 7 to 9 seconds.
Repeat this exercise ten to twenty times. This method of breathing will ensure that you’re not hyperventilating (a common problem of those with anxiety) and will help to regain the Co2 balance in your body that creates many of the worst anxiety symptoms.
2. Talk to Someone Friendly
Another very effective technique is to talk to someone you like and trust, especially on the phone. Don’t be shy about your anxiety – tell them you feel anxious and explain what you’re feeling.
Talking to nice, empathetic people keeps your mind off of your symptoms, and the supportive nature of friends and family gives you an added boost of confidence. If you’re suffering from a panic attack, it also helps you feel more confident that if something were wrong, you’d have someone that can watch over you.
3. Try Some Aerobic Activity
During periods of anxiety, your body is filled with adrenaline. Putting that adrenaline toward aerobic activity can be a great way to improve your anxiety. Exercise has numerous advantages for controlling your anxiety symptoms:
- Exercise burns away stress hormones that create anxiety symptoms.
- Exercise tires your muscles, reducing excess energy and tension.
- Exercise releases endorphins in your brain which can improve overall mood.
- Exercise is linked to healthier breathing.
- Exercise is a healthy distraction.
Aerobic activity, like light jogging or even fast walking, can be extremely effective at reducing the severity of your anxiety symptoms, as well as the anxiety itself.
4. Find What Relaxes You
There are already things in your life that relax you. You may find it beneficial to make a list of things you enjoy and that help you to relax so you can reference it when symptoms of anxiety arise. When you notice your anxiety rising turn to those activities to help stop symptoms before they escalate.
For example, if you find that a warm bath is relaxing, don’t wait, draw a bath, maybe light some candles or add a few nice scents and get in. Whether it’s a bath, a shower, skipping stones at a park, getting a massage – if it works, do it right away, rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed by your anxiety.
5. Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
Essential oils, the extract from plants, have been used for thousands of years to treat a number of conditions, including anxiety. Essential oils activate certain areas of your brain and release feel-good chemicals such as serotonin. They have been found to ease symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression, improve mood, and improve sleep.
Recommended use includes diffusing, inhalation, or topical treatment which can aid with anxiety symptoms. When diffusing an essential oil or essential oil blend (a few oils mixed together) you will need an essential oil diffuser to fill your space with the desired scent. Inhalation is used by deeply smelling the essential oil straight from the bottle or by applying a drop or two of the oil on something such as a diffuser pad (often felt or leather) or lava bead that is connected to a bracelet, necklace, or even keychain. You can also place a drop or two of essential oil into your hands, rub them together, then cup your hands and take a few deep inhalations to get the desired effect.
You can also apply essential oils directly to the skin in areas such as the back of the neck, the wrists, over the heart, behind your ears, and on your carotid artery in your neck. Proper dilution, for a healthy adult, is typically 2% which means that you mix one teaspoon of a carrier oil (examples include olive oil, grapeseed oil, almond oil, jojoba oil, or avocado oil) with 2 drops of essential oil. It is recommended that all essential oils be diluted however many individuals make a personal choice as to whether or not they want to dilute and how much. Also, for young children, babies, elderly, and unhealthy individuals stronger dilution is strongly recommended.
You should be sure that the essential oils you use are pure oils and not mixed with chemicals. Some good brands to use include: Mountain Rose Herbs, Plant Therapy, Young Living, Doterra. You can do your own research to find a brand that will best work for you and your budget. Remember that a bottle of essential oil will last a long time since you typically use only a few drops at a time.
Essential oils that are great for treating anxiety include: